I had an interesting conversation with my supervisor at work this morning. She’s the only one in my department currently in the know about my impending workplace transition, and she’s super-cool about it. So, quick aside, yay for that.
But one of the topics she wanted to talk to me about raised a few red flags. She wanted to know where I was in my talks with HR on the details of my workplace transition, because she was thinking that her own boss probably needs to know sooner rather than later. Not a terribly alarming request on its face, after all he is the manager of the overall business unit and I had always assumed people like that would need to know sooner than the general announcement to everyone else. But something about her tone and body language told me something else was going on that lead to her emphasis on this point. So I asked about it.
The motivation turned out to be a mixed blessing. He (this is the supervisor’s boss – we’ll call him SB from here on out) had attended a meeting yesterday during which I gave a presentation to some high level folks within our company. The meeting went well. Afterward he complimented me on the presentation, which was nice. But apparently after that he talked to my supervisor about how they needed to work on creating some kind of higher level position for me, lest they risk losing me to another company. Which is fantastic to hear and all but… well you take these things a bit differently when you’re planning to transition on the job, and the people saying these things don’t know about that yet. And this was exactly the reason my supervisor was bringing it up.
She explained her thinking… My brain is going to be the same after my transition as before. I’m not losing any of the capabilities that SB seems to admire at the moment. But she is worried he might have a hard time coming around to that realization. She’s hoping that getting him the news earlier will help so that by the time I actually transition he won’t be looking at me like some different person.
Ultimately it comes down to one of the biggest challenges I forsee at my job after transition – respect. How many people (and I know this number is not zero) will lose all respect for me once I transition? How many of those people will be in positions to affect my career? How many of those people will it be possible to win back as weeks and months pass? Will I ultimately need to find another company where they will never know me as anyone other than Diana?
It’s heavy stuff, and not the kind of thing where the anxiety is unwarranted. I sometimes wonder if I “peaked too soon” at my job. Like maybe I should have done good work so I didn’t get fired, but stayed a lot more below the radar, so that I didn’t have such a visible reputation. Can I possibly transition my respect along with the rest of me?
So now I’m wondering if SB’s talk about creating a higher level position for me is really good news. Or does it just increase the size of the target on my back come transition day?
The answer is not long in coming. The workplace transition is, by our current ballpark estimate, about three months from now. People like SB will find out some weeks sooner. As the clock says, “Tick, tock.”