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“I got a standing ovation – it was the most amazing day of my life
I worked for the City of Los Angeles and transitioned near the end of my career. I told my HR chief, who brought together a team of managers and we spent a year planning my transition.
When the day came for the announcement, we brought together every manager in the department along with my staff and I got up to tell my story. My colleagues listened, transfixed, and when I got to the end they gave me a standing ovation. It was one of the most amazing days of my life.
I didn’t come to work en femme for about a week, but when I did I got lots of compliments and support. Many people expressed admiration for what I did and called it courageous. I called it necessary. A couple of gay and lesbian co-workers said that I served as an example, and gave them courage for their own coming out. For me, that is the best result of all. – boots4me
A customer shouted: ‘I’m not having my kids exposed to this!’While working in retail it became noticeable that my assistant manager didn’t agree with, as she called it, “my lifestyle”. Things became more awkward when, during Bristol pride, another co-worker said that they didn’t believe “those people” should share equal rights.It wasn’t just my co-workers. Once, while working on the tills, a large gentleman and his family became aggressive. He leaned down to look at my face, gave me an ugly stare and shouted: “Are you a woman?” I looked up, startled. He continued: “Are you a man dressed as one? Are you a man?”
I was stunned. He was incredibly loud and caught me off guard. I replied quietly: “I’m female transgender”.
“For fuck’s sake! Do you see this?’’. He flung his arm in the air and motioned aggressively at my co-workers. “I’m not having my kids exposed to this!’’
What followed was a blur of obscenities and shouting, the customer argued with my manager and it was difficult to get him to leave. He was moved to the next till but continued to spout abuse.
A few months later I was let go. It was clear the decision was partly based on the fact that I’m LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer]. I didn’t fight it, the workplace was unpleasant. I hope that no one in future has to experience anything like this. – Abigail WardI am proud to be the first person to change gender in the RAFWhile working in the RAF for 18 years I had to keep my gender identity a closely guarded secret. It was a personal battle I struggled with all my life, but in 1998 I made the decision to live my own life, not someone else’s.
It took a year to get everything in place before I told the RAF I was transitioning. No one had been allowed to remain in the service as an openly transgender person before, so I expected the worst. Fortunately the people I told were amazingly supportive and I was allowed to stay. I became the first transgender woman to serve openly in the RAF.
We worked everything out together. I moved to a headquarters staff team to transition and adjust to my new military life. To be fully accepted I knew I had to prove I was more capable of doing my job than ever, so I asked to rejoin a frontline squadron. I became highly valued at my job and an atmosphere of respect and support grew with me. Throughout 16 years of service as a trans woman I always felt I was part of a tremendous team, I had their backs and they had mine. Transgender issues in the workplace
It is the people around you who make or break you. I knew I had a big part to play to earn their respect, and by achieving that I paved a pathway for other transgender people to follow in my footsteps. I have just retired from the RAF and I am proud of my achievements – but I am prouder still of the people I worked with. – CarolineRP
To get a job, I had to give in and apply as a fake male
After coming to terms with being transgender, I applied for hundreds of jobs, and got zero call-backs. I had to throw my hands up in the air, give in, and apply as a fake male. If I was only responsible for myself I wouldn’t have done this, but I take care of my disabled mother so I had to think of her.
I applied for a job to become a teacher for adults with developmental disabilities, and wouldn’t you know it, the first job I applied for as a male, I got. I am now hesitant to come out, because as part of my current role we provide personal care to people, and there are students who have gender preferences. I am scared that being transgender may become an issue with my students – and if they have a problem (or their families do) what is to happen to me? – Aileen Everlast
My opinion at work now counts for a fraction of what it once didI changed gender fine at work, but since transitioning things have altered. I work in a male environment and my opinion counts for a fraction of what it once did. I am routinely excluded from discussions, not informed of meetings and denied equal training. Despite requests, I have been given nothing but unrewarding and unpopular tasks since I transitioned, while new starters are assigned high-profile work.
I don’t know if this is discrimination, but it feels like it. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m trans or a woman. I have no idea what to do about it. Despite this, transitioning is still the best thing I have done in my life. I now have a future. –AnnaKays“
For transgender men and women, coming out at work can be a nerve-racking experience. So, as cities around the world host LGBT pride events this summer, we want to hear your stories of being transgender at work. Whether you had a supportive workplace or faced intrusive questions, share your experiences.
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