Coming Out At Work

I came out at work today, by way of an all-staff email.  This was a step I wasn’t going to take for another couple of weeks, but life takes funny turns sometimes.  After coming out to my parents (I’ll post about that separately), I posted to FB about coming out to them and made a statement about my identity and my preferred pronouns.  It went like this:

Alright. Now that I’ve come out to my parent’s as trans and genderqueer and had that conversation… it’s your turn.

Hi, I’m Casey. I’m a trans identified genderqueer person, specifically I identify as bi-gender (both male and female), with a very masculine tilt. I prefer he/him pronouns (they/them are also OK) and do not prefer she/her (they make me wince). I’d prefer you not use words like lady/woman/girl/chick/gal/ma’am/miss in reference to me, either in my hearing or not. I like guy/dude/man/sir/etc. a lot. Think of me as one of the guys, and things should work out pretty well.

If you have questions or would like to talk to me about terminology or anything else related to this, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m pretty friendly, most of the time

Some of my co-workers are my friends on Facebook and one of them read that post and went to one of my bosses asking if he should start using the correct pronouns at work.  That was the first my boss had heard about it because, as I said, I wasn’t going to do the work roll-out right away.  A couple of days after my post, my boss and I had a conversation on the phone where he jumped right in and asked if I wanted him and my other co-workers to start using he/him pronouns and what else I needed from him in terms of transition.  We talked a bit more about how we’d get the news out to clients and my professional references and talked more last Friday when we were both at the office.  That’s when I write this email and sent it to all staff:

I’m writing this email to bring everyone up to speed. I’ve been posting to Facebook about my gender identity and since some of you are connected to that page and you may have some idea what I’m writing about.

Hi, I’m Casey and I’m a transgender person.

For some of you, this isn’t news, for others who don’t know me as well, it may take a while to get your head around it. Either way, this is what it means to you:

I prefer to be seen as a guy. I prefer that you use he/him/his pronouns when talking about me. Using she/her/hers is no longer correct. I would also ask that you don’t refer to me as a lady/chick/gal/miss/ma’am/missus, instead use words like guy/dude/man/Sir/mister.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s some more information about how I identify and relate to the world from the standpoint of gender.

I do not identify as strictly male or female, instead I identify as male and female. Male/Female is known as the gender binary and from that perspective, I identify as non-binary. Another term I use is bi-gender (two gender) and genderqueer. If you’re curious about those and other terms related to non-binary genders, I know some great resources you can read and I’m also available if you want to talk to me directly.

Let’s recap: I am a transgender person who identifies as male and female, tilted to the masculine side of the spectrum, and I prefer masculine pronouns and terms.

Depending on the situation, you may hear the gender neutral plural pronouns used in reference to me or other people who identify as non-binary. ‘They/them/theirs’ may feel awkward or wrong when referring to an individual, but they are becoming more widely used and accepted.

I will be working with the management team on rolling this information out to the clients I’m working with, and I will be communicating with my professional references as well. If you have questions or concerns, I’d be happy to talk to you about them, or you can run your questions through BossDude.

Oh, and another thing, since BossDude brought this up when we talked the other day: I know that some of you have known me for years now and using she/her pronouns is a habit that will take time to change. I know all about that because I’ve had to go through the process with a lot of friends. I won’t chew you out for slipping a ‘she’ or ‘her’ in there but I will raise an eyebrow or correct you depending on the situation. The main thing is your intent. As long as you working towards respecting my preferred pronouns and terms, I won’t have a problem with occasional slip-ups.

I am a bit of a geek when it comes to gender identity, so if you want to talk gender sometime, I’m all for it. If you’d rather read about it, feel free to ask and I’ll send you links to some great resources online. I’m considering writing a FAQ.

I got a couple of responses back, both positive and supportive.  I work for a company of consultants.  Most of us work at client offices so we rarely see each other around the home office.  We have monthly staff lunches, the next one is in a couple of weeks.  I guess that’ll be when I have a chance to see how more of my co-workers are reacting to the news.  I doubt I’ll hear direct negative comments.  I might get questions, though some might not want to ask them for fear of appearing ignorant.  The guys I’m closest with, a group of about 6, have been in on my progression over the past few years.  We had lunch on Friday and it was nice to talk to them about my coming out messages and get their support.  And then we got back to the serious business of talking about geek stuff and beer.

 

 

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2 Responses to Coming Out At Work

  1. Jamie Ray says:

    I’m not surprised that your co-workers found out via Facebook. I took two coworkers aside when i started blogging because they are so google savvy that I figured they’d find my blog anyway, so they might as well get it direct from me. It is hard if not impossible to keep all aspects of one’s life separate.

    When I changed my name (from Amy to Jamie) I waited to tell the guys at work until it was completely legal so that they would have to use my new name or it would be harassment. To my surprise, they were pretty much all onboard (although they slipped up). The great thing was that as soon as one made a mistake, the other guys jumped on him (because they were relieved they hadn’t made the mistake) and they enjoyed correcting each other (and could be much more abusive than I could). I actually never had to correct anyone myself.

    Hope it continues smoothly for you, that is a big hurdle.

    Thanks for the comment, Jamie! Yeah, I didn’t think I was being secretive but I figured the people who knew me through FB would talk to me first… but it really only moved the whole process up a week or so. I do think that I won’t have to do all the reminding about slip-ups before long, I’ve got some pretty loyal and conscientious co-workers. Glad it went well for you, too – K

  2. meridith says:

    Congratulations on that big step! I hope you have resounding support.

    So far so good, Meridith. I’m still early in the process of rolling this out, so folks are still working on their habits and not necessarily catching their mistakes but they are trying. Still more coming out to do, plus I’m working on a FAQ I can share with co-workers, friends and family. K

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