Month: August 2016

Out (Sort Of) at Work

Big news, I came out to both my immediate manager) and the who’s the other departmental manager, as well as their boss (and the chief product officer).

Did it again via email, which for me seems to be a way that works well — I feel like it gives time for people to digest, without feeling like I’m putting them on the spot. (Plus with the chief product officer it’s extremely difficult to get on his calendar.) All of them were extremely supportive, and said to let them know whatever they could do to help. (I did let them know in the email that I was planning to take a medical leave starting in January.)

Unfortunately, due to our mutually hectic schedules this week, we haven’t had time to sit down in person and discus.(OTOH, I’m giving them so much lead time — in part because it’ll take three months to find a contractor to fill for me — so there’s nothing super urgent.

It was interesting to see the slightly varying reactions. Chief product officer said he excited for me. My immediate manager said he knew it must have been a difficult decision and commended me for making it. I got a chance to talk with to the other manager for a few minutes. Walked over and thanked her again, and then started tearing up, and apologized and said that was one of those moment where I’m still getting used to being estrogen-powered. She smiled and said she knew what I meant – sometimes she’ll see a sappy card at the gift store and get choked up. We talked for a couple more minutes, and the interesting thing is that it had that subtle “woman to woman” vibe to it.

Meanwhile, I officially came out to my next-door neighbors — albeit it won’t be much a surprise. They’re rebuilding their house, and living with relatives during construction, so I haven’t seen them regularly for months, but when I do it’s on the weekends when I’m presenting as a woman (and they’d seen me before off-and-on). I was talking to them about repairing/replacing a fence that’s falling over, and when emailing info to L., the wife, I took the opportunity to say “Since you’re probably wondering….” Emailed her last night, so we’ll see what the reaction is, but I’m sure it’ll be positive. Looking forward to when they move back into the house in November, because in the past L. and I had bonded a bit, albeit we didn’t get to talk that much. But there’s probably chance to connect — and give her some adult time away from her infant and toddler.

Postscript: Heard back from my neighbor, and she was extremely supportive, although she did have a question about what would be an age-appropriate explanation for her daughter who 3-ish.

Apparently, it hasn’t been an issue for a while, since for a number of months I’ve only run into the daughter when I’m presenting as a woman. But initially when she saw me dressed, she was confused when her parents told her that it was me, and she replied “no, that’s a lady, where’s [boyName]?” Out of the mouths of babes…

I’m Digging in the Dirt to Find the Places I Got Hurt

While gender-issues have ended up being the lesser focus of stuff I’m working on with my therapist, there’s still some heavy-duty gender-related stuff I’m working through — stuff that I wasn’t necessarily aware of.

I’ve always been a loner, armoring myself so that I wouldn’t get hurt. It’s what I needed to do to survive. But the price of loneliness has been building and building. So it’s learning to open up, to reconnect. But it’s just really hard at the moment, since I’m so incredibly burned out, and my natural instinct is to retreat into myself, to somewhere safe and quiet where I can recharge.

One big realization is that I’ve internalized much more of society’s negative messages that I’d allowed myself to realize. (Compartmentalization can be a useful survival tool.) As a wise friend said: it’s hard to swim in a sea of poison without swallowing some. It’s not at the overt level, like those of us who struggle with being told they were an abomination. At an intellectual level, I know I’m worthy and deserving of love. More insidiously it’s at the gut level — the other reason I’ve been a loner is that subliminal sense of “who would ever want me.”

Working though the anger about that. The solutions that turned into problems (like walling myself off), I can honor, they were things I need to do to survive, even if now it’s time to discard them. But the internalized transphobia…. there’s nothing I honor about that.

I’m still struggling to see myself as fully a woman. I’m definitely not a man, but a woman, I’m not sure I know that’s that like. I’m not one of those folks who knew they were a woman from age 4. All I know is that I’m happier and more comfortable interacting with the world as a woman, and to have a more feminized body.

But my therapist has been helpful in me looking back on my life and seeing more of the feminine spirit than I’d realized at the time. For example, the intimacy and connection women typically have with each other (albeit not to over-sentimentalize it) is something men generally don’t pick up on, whereas it’s been a yearning in me for decades. Or the particular ways masculinity chafed on me in ways they don’t usually do for men.

Last week my electrologist asked an interesting question: What happens to [boy name] after I transition. I had to think a minute. I’ve never been a fan of “[former name] had to die.” I finally responded that [boy name] would be taking a well-deserved retirement. (At the risk of talking about myself in the third-person, which I find weird), I do think that’s apt. I do honor my male persona. He did a difficult job until he just couldn’t do it anymore. He protected me, at great cost to himself. And now he’s stepping aside to let me be free.

The other but thing I’m working through is coming to terms with the life I didn’t have. I don’t necessarily wish I’d transitioned earlier — I don’t know that I would’ve had the strength to do so, given society’s bigotry 30 years ago.

But yeah…

I won’t have the experience of being a young woman, with life’s possibilities ahead of her. I won’t have the body of a young woman. I’m transitioning into a middle-aged woman, with all that implies. I won’t have the experience of being cisgender, of not having to deal with Teh Tranz. But obviously the past can’t be changed, only made peace with. But I’m also doing a bit of grieving about it these days.

It’s all growth, but growth can definitely be challenging.


During my workout tonight I needed to drop the weight by 10 pounds for one set of exercises — for something I had no trouble doing two weeks ago.

And my Gyrotonics instructor, who’s got a great eye for the subtleties of my body and movement, said he’s started seeing a decrease in muscle mass in my arms.

So the estrogen is definitely kicking in. Now if it’ll just do something about reducing the size of my wide child-bearing shoulders….

The Countdown Starts

I heard back from HR that will cover my leave in Q1 under the Family Medical Leave Act — equivalent to a pregnancy — which means it’s a legally protected leave, plus I maintain  my health insurance with the company while I’m out and receive my Q4 bonus. It’ll be a little tricky talking about it with my managers, since I don’t need the full time off for recovery from the surgeries — I’d planned to take some extra weeks just to recharge from the accumulated burnout. Which HR is aware of… but if they’re willing to cover the whole thing under FMLA, I won’t say no.

HR also suggested that I apply for short-term disability from the state while I’m out. Looked at the state’s website and “cosmetic” surgery isn’t explicitly covered, but third-party sites said that it was — the state said you need a doctor’s statement that you were unable to work. Obviously I won’t claim the entire time off, but it’ll be nice to have some additional income. Not sure how the state will react to a statement from an out-of-the country surgeon, so I’l have to check with my regular doc and my hormone doc to see if they’ll write the letter for me (I can give them the letter from the surgeon).

Meanwhile, I’m out to two more co-workers. It’s someone in another department, I used to work with a lot, but now only occasionally. Ran into her unexpectedly at the grocery store. But she’s extremely supportive and promised to be discrete until I formally come out at work. At the point the circle keeps widening and there’s a non-zero chance that someone may break confidence — and I realized I’m OK with that. Even if I’d prefer the public disclosure not happen until mid-December.

The other is the general manager for the business division I support. She’s is a soft butch lesbian, who asked one of my co-workers who knows, if I was transitioning, and told my co-worker that if so, she wanted to support me however she could. General manager. realized in retrospect that was a little inappropriate, but given the outcome I’m OK with. She wants me to come over the dinner and meet her wife, who worked with the LBGT Center in SF and helped do employer training regarding transition issues. That in itself, probably isn’t that valuable in my case because HR is already solidly behind me. But having yet another powerful ally in the company is a Good Thing.

I also wrapped the draft of my Trans 101 FAQ, and then revised it after some good feedback from co-workers. HR loved it and told me not to change a word of it. Though I’ll probably continue to do some polishing. Also one co-worker did have concerns about how it reads for folks for whom English is a second language (there’s a lot of foreign-born workers in the engineering department), as well as other cultural issues. Will be interested to see her feedback when she gets a chance to finish it.

In the next week or two, I’ll be coming out to my departmental managers, as well as the the chief product officer (who’s their boss). I’m assuming it should go well — but there’s always the unexpected. It’ll take about three months to find a contractor who can back fill while I’m out, so I have to do this by the end of September, but since I’ll be taking a vacation late September/early October, I figure I should start those discussion now, so that they’ll be settled before I’m out of town. And more to the point, I’m feeling like I just want to get it over with.

Big yeah…. it’s another huge step. <gulp>

I did have a bit of OMG moment when I realized T Day is less than 16 weeks away — and the time is going to go by really fast. Not really panic or second thoughts, more of a “holy shit, this thing is actually happening!” moment. And of course while I can always change my mind if I need to, the stakes of changing direction are getting higher.