Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Transgender Girl Comes Out at Work


This weekend, I was running errands in a kind of androgynous mode. No wig, light makeup, girls's jeans, girls' hoodie, girls' jacket. Not quite presenting totally dressed up female, but definitely not male either. Walking down the street in my Brooklyn neighborhood I thought to myself "I guess I'm full time now." It wasn't some grand big thing, me coming out full time. It just sort happened. Well, more like it evolved over time. If you had asked me ten years ago what I thought my coming out full time would involve I would have imagined grand ceremonies, burning boy clothes, a giant party, who knows what. Instead, in the end, it just sort of happened. Another mundane thing on a mundane day.

Yesterday, was Monday, November 21st, 2016. It was a huge, amazing day for me and in the end it felt mundane too. Yesterday was my first day working at my job as a woman.

Settle in. This is gonna be a long one...

My regular readers will know that I came out to HR recently, and started working with management, HR and Legal on how I would come out. There were meetings. There were plans. There were documents to review. There were panic attacks. In the end, I decided on November 21st as my first girl day, partly because it was, at the time, pretty far away, and also because it was the week of Thanksgiving. That meant that if it all went horribly, I would at least only have a three day week to worry about. In the end, it was determined that they'd send out a memo organization-wide, and then conduct some other training for key staff in the coming months. Since the memo was going out on a Wednesday, I took that day, plus the following Thursday and Friday off. Honestly, I just didn't want to be there when the memo went out. I could imagine it showing up in inboxes and suddenly every head turning to stare at me.

Plus hey, five day weekend. It was a busy weekend. I went and saw Letters to Cleo play live. It was amazing show and they've been one of my favorite bands for practically two decades and I'd never seen them play. Good times.

How shining is Veda? Veda is very shining. 
I went and got a my hair styled, got a new manicure, hung out with friends, went to a co-workers' birthday shindig so she could meet girl-me ahead of time, and spent a bunch of time nervous, anxious and gripped with fear because on Monday I was going to put on a skirt and a wig, do my makeup and then walk into my office and expect people to take me seriously. There was dread and there were nightmares. There were doubts, fear, anxiety. It had gripped me for months, inspiring worry about getting fired, ruining my career, or ruining my life. I worried that I wasn't even transgender, that this wasn't something I could do. It all led up to Monday morning.

Monday morning. I'd set the alarm early, for 6:45am and promptly hit snooze a couple times. Yes, my first decision of the day was to continue in an unconscious state.

Eventually I did get up out of bed. I put on my clothes; a professional looking skirt with black tights and ankle boots, a nice red top and cardigan. I did my makeup in the same kind of basic, light makeup look that I've been practicing and I opened up a brand new shiny wig, fresh from the package.

And of course, this happens...


And then the temperature drops to freezing. You know, it was 70F like four days ago. What the hell, universe. Give a trans girl a chance! So, I bundled up and headed out the door.

Honestly, there wasn't much nervousness as I headed to the subway. I resisted the urge to snap selfies along the way. A part of me felt the day, a day this momentous, needed some serious documentation. But then also, stopping to snap selfies would do nothing but draw attention to me. Plus the light probably wasn't even good. Certainly none of the other commuters were stopping to take souvenir photos of their slog into work. So, my morning would go unrecorded.

After a half hour I got to my building and wouldn't you know it, my card didn't work. I worked this hard to come out as me and now I can't even get in the building. What if they fired me over the weekend and that's why my card doesn't work? Actually it was my old boy card. So I had to go up to security and yes, my first activity of my first girl work day, was showing someone my boy ID. Lovely. Well, security gave me a temporary pass and said my new card was waiting for me upstairs. 

Up the elevator I went and into my office. Really, there was no nervousness. It had all gone. Maybe my brain figured it had worried enough, the Rubicon had been crossed, and it was too late to worry. So I was kinda blank, just whatever, as I walked in. Same as I always walk in.

First I got a gigantic, surprised smile from the receptionist. "Hi, Faith!" she greeted me excitedly as though she had been waiting forever to see me. I smiled back, did my best girliest "hi" back and headed over to my desk. Generally, I'm one of the first people in the office, so it's not uncommon for me to come in and find a ghost town. So, there was a ghost town. It was empty. That was nice. And there were flowers waiting for me at my desk. That was nice too.

Flowers! The first time I've ever gotten surprise desk flowers!
Well, sat down at my computer. I'd been out for five days and had plenty of voicemails and emails to catch up on. Only I couldn't log in. My password didn't work. Maybe I was fired after all. Maybe they were "you're fired" roses. Apparently not, because then the head of HR came over and said she had paperwork for me to fill out. If there's one thing I've learned about gender transition is that there is paperwork involved. HR said they wanted me to feel welcome and I resisted making any snarky comments about building IDs or passwords. She said my coming out email went well and that everyone was super supportive.


As people came in I got a lot of big smiles, a few hugs, many, many compliments on how great I looked. There were a few people who came by my desk specifically to meet the transgirl or to officially welcome me, but everyone was really nice and friendly and cool about things. Everyone called me my new name and gendered me 100% correctly. A few people even pre-preemptively apologized in case they messed up accidentally.


It didn't take very long at all for people to shift from "you look fantastic" to "where's the TPS reports?" So that was good. I did what I always did and sat down and started working. Actually I got a lot of work done. My partner says having a task helps relieve anxiety. You know, you're brain is so occupied with work that it doesn't have time to worry about things.



There was however one thing I did out of nervousness. I limited my liquid intake. That way the bathroom wouldn't be an issue. Well, that sort of worked until about 11am and then I had to go. Now the problem was that I didn't have a code for bathroom access. So, I had to walk into HR and ask them. Having the code for the ladies room given to me definitely made me feel better. You know, it was like I actually belonged there. I even ran into coworkers at the sink and they were super nice and friendly. Plus, I must admit that I do much prefer the privacy of the stalls in the womens' room. So much more user friendly than the gross mens' room. 


Then around 3pm or 4pm in the afternoon, I kind of had a feeling come over me. It was a feeling of like "this has gone great. Today has been fantastic." What I think I loved about it was that it felt so utterly ordinary and mundane. Like it was just another day at the office and the only thing different was that I was a girl now. And even me being a girl seemed sort of like a non-issue. It was a non-event. The whole day felt like a non-event. That made me super happy. It was another ordinary day in the office, only I was rocking a skirt! I sort of couldn't even believe I'd ever worried. 


And of course I worry about things and will keep worrying. People's attitudes can change, their opinion of me can change, who knows what the future holds. But for now, it feels nice to be at work and be me. I feel good about this.

In fact, I felt so good that around 4:30pm or 5pm I stopped for a few minutes, found an empty office, and snapped a bunch of selfies (you can see them throughout this post). Not for more than two or three minutes. But enough to show that I was here, enough to document this experience. It's real. It happened. I did it. I overcame my fears.



And then I showed up today and did it all over again.

17 comments:

  1. I know I commented already, but once isn't enough: I'm glad everything is working so awesomely! And I hope you have a good thanksgiving lined up too!

    Also: your Letters to Cleo reference made me recall the show Parks and Rec a bit :) thanks for that, haha

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  2. Good for you Faith! Just keep on going now. :)

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  3. Faith -

    Good for you!!!! I'm very happy that all things went well, and you had a smooth professional transition.

    Marian

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  4. A lot of people in this world are really very nice,supportive, and accepting even if they don't fully understand. Lovely news.
    Geraldine

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  5. Woo Hooo! You've done it! Could not be happier for you. Some milestones we go by quickly, and some we crawl past. Either way, it means were moving -- and there's no doubt you're moving in the right direction. I've read of many coming outs that did not meet expectations. Trust that yours did. It sounds like the perfect match of enlightened employer and wonderful co-workers. Flowers, even. That's a huge sign of good will, and more importantly, of WELCOME.

    You're the best. please please keep us posted and share your ongoing transition.

    Best regards, and another WOO HOO!
    Rhonda

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  6. I am so so happy for you.

    By the way, you look awesome in you selfies.

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  7. Congratulations, Faith! Wow! I am so happy for you that I am tearing up!

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  8. Thank you, everyone, for your kind thoughts!

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  9. Congratulations on your big day.

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  10. Congratulations Faith. So glad to hear everything went smooth for you. Your a good person and that will follow you. Great selfies too. You look beautiful.

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    1. A good person? Can I get that in writing for an upcoming court appearance? :)

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  11. CONGRATULATIONS Girl , Now get those reports filed lol

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  12. Congratulations Faith. I am so happy to hear that everything went so well for you. You are truly an inspiration! :)

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  13. I am so happy that you had the support of co-staffs. I think you will flourish well and live your dreams.

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  14. That sounds like the very best sort of non-event going. It is amassing to think that this will soon be an ordinary day, your new normal.

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  15. I have never heard of anyone doing what you did and having a co-worker come up privately and say "I wish I had the guts to do what you did!" I mean there HAS to be other t-folk there. Why are we so isolated?

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