Probably the hardest thing that any transgender does is come out publicly. It hangs over our heads like a guillotine poised to strike. Most of us spend years, some forever, actively preventing anyone from knowing our feelings.
But once you make the decision to live your life on the outside like it feels on the inside, you know that it has to be done.
Several of my friends are on similar journeys to mine and I spoke a recently with one about her experience coming out at work.
She works for a large company so her first step was the Human Resources department. They consulted with the corporate office and got onboard. Her direct supervisor was supportive as were many of her colleagues. This did not stop some from complaining, resulting in her having to use a single stall bathroom, …in another building. Human Resources intervened at the prodding of her lawyer and she can use the bathroom in her building again.
Another friend still works in boy mode, in spite of a pair of very nice implants. She tells me she wears a big shirt, a big jacket and puts her hair in a ponytail down her shirt. Her reason is that it’s too much money to risk a bad reaction. Eventually she will apply to another company as female, thus avoiding the issue altogether.
I am in the unusual position of being self employed as a consultant. This means there is no single HR to go to, no one place to make an announcement. I work for several companies, some government entities and many individuals. So I have multiple targets. Add to that an active political life and you end up with quite a complex problem.
I’m taking it slowly, always a sound tactic. Starting with my individual clients, I am testing the waters. So far so good, the reactions have all been very positive, and I am encouraged. I have also informed my direct supervisor at one of my bigger clients. She was great, again very enthusiastic , even suggesting that I give a TED Talk on the subject. This clients HR is in my near future.
Will my luck hold? Can I really just stop being Jeff and go to work everywhere Jess? Only time will tell.