I suppose it’s about time to update the blog with something about how my workplace transition has gone. I certainly expected to have plenty to say about it in the weeks leading up to the big event. But the problem is that there really isn’t much to report.
I left work. They announced my transition. I returned to work as Diana. And really, once past the initial shock – mostly mine, not theirs – it was back to a fairly normal work routine. The milestones I’m achieving now are mostly negative milestones, by which I mean nothing of note happened in particular times and places when I thought something might.
The big “bathroom shift” is a perfect example. I had no special anxiety about using the women’s restroom for its own sake. But I was incredibly anxious that other women might freak out upon seeing me there. That social anxiety stayed with me for a few days. But you know what? I just don’t have time to stay anxious about such a routine event. No one has been the least bit weird about me being in there yet, so what’s the use of worrying about it any more? That’s a negative milestone.
Pronouns are still tripping people up at times, but not in any kind of malicious way. I never realized before, but it’s apparently a lot harder to think of someone with new pronouns than it is to think of them with a new name. At least that’s what my experience suggests. No one ever calls me by my old name these days, but the occasional “he” or “him” still slips out when people are hurried. On the flip side it’s no longer very novel or notable when people use female pronouns with me. Another negative milestone there.
I had worried a lot about my voice, never having paid the time or attention I had originally intended to making it better. I’m continually striving to identify and correct any special male-sounding verbal tics. But most of the time now I just don’t think about it. I’m too busy, and talk to far too many people to keep up that kind of effort. I just talk, and it hasn’t proven to be an issue. My previous panic over not sounding feminine enough now seems a little silly to me. Negative milestone.
And they go on like that. I haven’t lost friends – I’ve even made a few new ones. I’m still invited places as often as before. The most salient water cooler topics are still the same as they’ve always been (i.e. mostly about family and television shows), and I’m included as much in them as ever.
If you told me a year ago that a workplace transition could be such a non-event, I would never have believed it. But so far, that’s really how it seems to be. The bigger deal in our lives these days is about the kids starting back to school and E starting back to work. Now that’s an impactful transition. Changing gender presentation at work? Meh. No biggie.
Of course I’m being facetious. I’m fully aware that a great deal of the reason the work transition has gone so well is because I worked long and hard personally, with my supervisor, and with my HR department to make it so. Another great factor, which I can appreciate more by hearing others’ less-than-ideal work situations, is that I work for a terrific company for which diversity and tolerance are more than empty rhetoric. I’m most likely also benefiting in that – height aside – I’m not cursed with an especially masculine appearance (speaking of… I finally posted a picture on the About page, fyi).
But there is another factor I believe to be at play here which may factor greater than all of these. It seems to me the culture is starting to shift in our direction. I know of four other trans women roughly my age who all live in the Minneapolis area and transitioned on their jobs within the past two years. We’re all in slightly different industries, but in all cases things have gone similarly well. For reasons well beyond my control it seems we’re finding more acceptance out there in general. Granted this isn’t true for everyone, everywhere. But it seems to be much more common than it used to be. To the extent that’s so, it’s a negative milestone well worth celebrating.