Month: June 2016


OMG! OMG! OMG! The meeting with HR to kick off my workplace transition plan went better than anything I could’ve possibly imagined.

Short version:

  • They see it as an occasion for celebration.
  • They want me to be in charge of the process.
  • If anyone has a problem with it, they’ll tell that person that there’s plenty of jobs elsewhere, and either they get onboard or get out.

Trying my best not to cry at my desk.

Still trying to process the meeting — although I’ll definitely cop to being in a pink glow.

Our VP of HR, was blunt about the company’s support, i.e. anyone who has a problem with it will be told they can take a job somewhere else.

Apparently it’s already come up and been dealt with a lesser extent. There were bathroom complaints about trans people in two of our manufacturing plants. They were seasonal temps, so it wasn’t transition-in-place situation. But HR made it very clear that trans people were free to use the bathroom that they felt was appropriate for them, and after that there was no static. Steve also had seen the all-gender “half man/half woman” sign somewhere, and liked it, so he had them install them on all the single-stall bathrooms.

Tomorrow he’s is going to talk to Legal to see if my time off can be covered by the American Family Leave act — meaning it would be “protected” leave. Sounds like more of a “I want this to happen, give me a legal opinion that lets me do it” situation, since he’d mentioned the company has been very generous about defining “family” for the AMLA. essentially if you say someone is family they’ll honor that, regardless of whether it’s a legal or blood relative.

This is where diversity matters. Our VP of HR is a femmy gay man (kind of like Mr. Rodgers with a fabulous sense of style), and I’m sure that’s the reason we’ve got a permissive policy.

Likewise…. I’d given Steve a draft of the sample announcement letter (in case they’d wanted me to do an email). I’d based it on a several examples, all of which have a bit about how my doctors had diagnosed me with gender dysphoria, and that I’d made the decision to live full-time after working with a therapist.

Which I really hated to include. Originally, I’d just said I’d been living as a woman outside of work and had decided it was time to live full time as a woman.

I also had another passage saying that I understand some people might not understand and that was their right, but I expected to be treated with respect.

He red-penned both passages, and said it sounded like I was apologizing for something, when it should be something that should celebrated. Out and proud.

So I’ll make it a few tweaks to give it a more unambiguously “I’m so happy to sure this news with you” tone, and HR handle the “you will respect her authoritah, I mean, gender.”

As far as private disclosures to the chain of command, interestingly, he strongly recommended disclosing first to our chief product officer, rather than my immediate managers. CPO has also been with the company 10 years and was my original manager, before he got promoted several times. So it sounds like it’ll stroke his ego, to let him know that while I’ll talk to my immediate manager shortly, I wanted to tell him first since we’ve known each other a really long time.

So when I set up the meeting with him, I’ll probably say something like I wanted to talk with him privately about an upcoming personal transition — which I’m sure he’ll interpret that means I’m planning to give notice.

In the meantime, by chance, HR was actually already in the process of updating the employee handbook. Steve said he will make sure gender and identity and expression are added to the anti-discrimination and he’ll also be putting together workplace transition guidelines based on the various examples I gave — and he wants me to review it and offer suggestions before it’s finalized.

However, the guidelines don’t need to be completed for me to move forward. He said that if I wanted to transition tomorrow, he’d make it happen, and he truly meant it. (In fact his biggest question was why I wanted to wait until the end of the year— although he got it when I mentioned one of the reasons is that I wanted to be sure I finished with electrolysis, since I need to grow my beard during the week for treatment.) He said he appreciated the advanced notice, but even though we’ve gotten much larger over the years, we’re still a Silicon Valley company and it we need to move fast, we can and will.

He wants me to set the pace as far as time, and how I want to handle the public announcements. Interestingly, he compared it to coming out as LGB — talk to the relevant people, but there wasn’t a need to do a major company-wide announcement, word would spread organically.

Which I think is fine. Admittedly, there’s a possibility of losing control of the narrative, but it does fit well with the “hey this is really cool, but not really a big deal” approach. Kind of akin to someone disclosing that they’re getting married, or that they’re pregnant and planning to take maternity leave. Given that he’s clear that he’ll bring the hammer down if problems do arise, I’m less concerned about the grapevine.

Anyway, I’m just incredibly thankful things are going so smoothly. I’m both so privileged and so lucky in that regard.

Thank You All

Thank you everyone, I’m so touched by your support.

People often ask whether I’m excited. Excited, terrified, something like that…. Mostly it’s been exhausting.

A friend of mine said that transitioning was like simultaneously planning her wedding and planning for the arrival of her first-born child —and running a marathon everyday to boot. She was only half-joking.

So having you all help celebrate a major milestone with me means a lot.

If you know any other trans folks who are transitioning, let them know you’ve got their back. It’s inherently a bit of lonely road, one spends a fair amount of time locked up with your thoughts and feelings.

If you know any other trans folks who are post-transition, let them know you’ve got their back. They’ve made it through the fire, but they often face a whole new set of challenges.

If you know any other trans folks who aren’t transitioning, let them know you’ve got their back. In some ways they have the most difficult path. I should know. For a number of years, I lived the middle path. Not because I was repressed, but because at that time I was truly and bi-gendered. And being bi-gendered or gender queer, or even an plain ol’ crossdresser is fucking hard. Maybe it’s a kiddie-coaster in terms of ups and downs compared to what transitioners go through, but there’s a big difference: at some point I get to get off the road. They don’t. It’s a ride they’ll be riding the rest of their lives.

If you know any partners of trans people — regardless of whether the trans person is transitioning, or post-transition or non-transitioning — let them know you’ve got their back. Of all the people, they’re the ones who are the most overlooked, the least respected and the least supported.

In the Wake of the Pulse Massacre

Dear cis/straight people who’ve remained silent,

Among those few who’ve spoken up, I’ve often heard that they felt like they didn’t know what to say, I get that. When someone’s parent, someone’s child, someone’s sibling or even their dog dies, we often don’t know what to say.

That’s why there’s ritual phrases: “My condolences.” “I’m sorry for your loss.” “I’m there for you.” Phrases that we say without thinking, without hesitation in the aftermath of other losses.

Imagine someone murders your parent, or your child, or your sibling, or even your dog. And no one says anything. Imagine the place you go to feel safe being violated. And no one says anything. Imagine knowing that it’s all too possible that someone you love, or you yourself, might well be murdered, in your refuge of safety. And no one says anything.

Yeah, it’s like that. And the silence has been deafening.

I get it, everyone processes tragedy in their own way. Some folks try to distract themselves, some folks withdraw. I get that you might need to get off Facebook for a bit.

I get that you might not have the energy to reach out individually to the LGBT people you know — I know I haven’t. I get that offering your condolences to an LGBT person might trigger emotions you rather not deal with right now — I know it has for me.

But honestly, how hard is it to take a moment to offer your condolences. Even getting on Facebook for a minute and making a quick post that you don’t what what else to say, but that you share our grief, that you’re with us.

Because a lot of us need to hear this right now. To know that someone else shares our pain. To know that we’ve not been abandoned. To know that we’re not alone.

P.S. I’m sure some of you are pissed off and defensive after reading this. If you are, ask yourself why are you so upset about being asked to do for us, what you routinely do for others. Just think about that.