Saturday, 9 April 2016

I'll always have history

To be fair I think this post could end here - it kind of says everything that I am thinking right now :)

But, I'll go into details a little for you instead :)

Go back 12 months and I was really hoping, thinking that once I got the recovery of the operation out of the way that I would be able to just simply be me and go through life the best that I could.

This week I got the realisation that as I work with the same people as I did before I transitioned, and as I am open with them that this isn't going to happen. There needs to be a middle ground somewhere.

I am not an activist, I long for a quiet life where I can disappear into a corner. I have to say this is something that I am ashamed of - being very visible is an important thing, it's just something that I do not have in me. I'm not going to shout from the roof about my history no matter what.

But, I do not, and am not going to hide it either. If there is a reason to bring it up then I am going to being it up. Whether that is to do with the little guy for people who know us well. He is my son, when people ask how we got him, and we know them well enough they are going to be told - if we don't know them well enough then I guess I'll settle for the "it's complicated" answer :)

And... If I find myself stumbling on words, catching my sentences before I say them, and generally feeling uncomfortable and not able to join in a conversation for fear of outing myself then I am going to have to look at the situation and make a decision on what I do.

This is what happened this week - and was the impulse for the first post in three months (gulp!)

We are forming a new team in the office for project (which I am not allowed to talk about unfortunately...) and were discussing getting the team together and moving to our new team room. Someone suggested getting facilities to help move our desks and computers (the desks move as a couple of us have special electric standing desks - so when we move the desk has to move too).

When moving the computers came up we decided to as IT Services to give us a hand - there are a lot of cables, dual monitors and heavy workstation machines to move. And I had to catch myself. You see 5 years ago I could have picked up the work station and moved it anywhere in the building. Hormones have ad an impact on that, and so I very nearly outed myself by saying so. And after that was very guarded in what I was saying and kind of left the conversation a little bit. And felt very, very uncomfortable.

So, I asked the new guy for a walk - the sun was out and so a walk away from the office seemed inviting - so that I could tell him my history. We are going to be working closely over the next few months and I don't want to be catching my sentences again. On top of that, he seems reasonable so I was hoping that it would not be an issue.

Of course seems and is are two very different things and the nerves start straight away - once you say it you cannot undo it.

But... It went well, he thought it was great that it is possible for me to be myself and has been no different to me since I told him than before. Phew.

There was one very bad thing though - the sun, it disappeared at the farthest point from the office and we got wet in the rain! 


  1. So nice to hear from you, Stace!

    I think the title of your post says it all and I'm so glad your conversation went OK.

    If this had been 20 years ago, this may have been a completely different blog post. Things have changed for the better, yet ever so slowly.

    Calie xxx

    1. Hoi Calie, Great to hear from you too!

      The conversation went fine, and this colleague has been perfectly fine since as well - which is always a bonus!

      Thinking of how it was treated 20 years ago in the UK is scary - I remember the rare occurrences when it was a subject on a TV show and the reactions of the people in the audience, or those who called in during the show (called in, not texted, apped or tweeted :p) told me very clearly that this was something which was impossible...

      When I first told my mum and dad they said that if I had have said when I was younger they would have done everything they could for me (and considering my mum was a nursing auxiliary on the ward for one of the UK GRS surgeons I think I can believe her, she knew something of it at least...) but that we would probably have had to move somewhere other than where I grew up for it to be OK.

      There is plenty of work left to do - and this should not be taken lightly, but I think that we can be thankful that we have made it this far already!


  2. Stace,
    I could have written this post as I've had to deal with similar.
    Like you I transitioned at work and so there are many people that know my background. There are also a lot of people that don't know. I've outed myself to a few people that wouldn't have known but only where I felt that there was a benefit to them knowing.
    With so many people knowing my history I'm under no illusions that I'll be able to hide the fact that I spent most of my life living as a guy, not without changing my job. With that in mind I'm thinking of using my past to help make things better for others when the company release the transgender policy that they are developing by sharing my story as part its launch.

    I've also had to consider coming out to other people where it affects my son. Most of the time if he and I are together and my wife isn't with us and somebody who doesn't know my past refers to me as his mum we don't say anything. There have been times where we've had to correct them because we know that at some point they are going to meet his mum and so it saves explaining things at a later date. Generally though, if people don't need to know then we don't say anything.

    Hope the new project goes well. Glad to hear from you.

    Jenna x

    1. As far as my son goes I'm pretty much in that box. If I am with Mrs Stace then we just both say that we are the mum - and we have only had one instance where someone really, really wanted to know who the birth mum was - and old couple in Ikea who were getting really confused by us simply saying that we were the mums. Not in a nasty way, just really, really confused! But if they do not need to know the details, and don't know us well then there is no reason why we should go into details.

      I'll be honest and say that whilst there are improvements in the way my company handled my transition, they did a good job. I would happily speak candidly to them should someone else transition and they ask for my advice, but in the main it was fine.

      Their issue is more gender equality in the IT department. We have lots of women (almost 30%, which is good in the field) but let's just say that conditions are not always the same...

      Thanks! It's something that I am really excited about - shame I can't say more as I'm bursting :)


    2. I put together a what worked/what didn't summary for my HR department.
      I was asked if I wanted to discuss the transgender policy that the company are putting together the other week so I gave them a copy of the report. Hopefully it will give them something that they can compare the policy against to see if anything has been missed. In September they are launching the policy so I'm looking forward to that as they are going to make sure that there it is well published within the company.

      My place is working hard to ensure that there is equality. I think the main problem that we have is the inequality between people at different grades, some of who don't seem to do any more than people at the same grade as me. They just get paid a lot more for doing it.

    3. Hey Jenna, sounds like a good plan. I hope that they do something useful with it!

      At my place it's a little odd. There is better than average equality between men and women in the development team, and yet you still need to be 'one of the guys'and accept that as a women that you are going to be left out somewhat from things. (I can't remember why but one room decided to give each other nicknames and all of the women got the same one because they couldn't think of more than one, and complained when the women called them out on it...)

      (And of course, as I have written in previous posts, there is a lot about having to be less emotional, having thicker skin etc when you say that something is not right...)

      I guess where we are is a start, but there is a road left to travel.


  3. A great post and I think that just by being you, is a quiet victory. Why should a person have to shout about it, or go deep stealth? Isn't it your life and therefore your right to choose? Maybe there's something about not being 'really out', that lets you just be, and if people learn, or you tell them, it's just a minor facet of who you are.

    PS: take a brolly next time! :-) x

    1. Hoi Lynn! Thanks - I think that you should get to choose, and am very aware of how lucky I am that I disappear into background and so get that choice. And yet I know that I shouldn't be need to be that lucky, and that the only way to change it is to show the world that we are not freaks to be feared or mocked. And for not doing that I feel guilty.

      On the other hand, for those who do know me personally I get to show them that aside from being a speed freak, gadget freak and coffee snob I am relatively normal :)


      And I think I need to keep it with me, yes :)

  4. Whether it might be at work (check), or in the community where you have lived for years or decades (check) or with family members and especially children who you will spend time with and they will be introducing you (sometimes awkwardly) to others, we will have to deal with others knowing a history that is not well understood by the general population. I'm early on into this but I already know that somewhat sinking feeling well; the 'here we go again feeling' of having to tell some version of my story rather than simply be myself and be judged only by that in the here and now.

    In the near future, there may be situations when a new group of people will only know me as who I am now. Yet there will always be the thought in the back of my mind that when I get to know those new folks well, the two groups may overlap. If or when someone mentions my history I will have to accept that flood of feelings all over again.

    At this time, I am blasé. Ask me again in two years and especially after GRS and my story might be very different.

    1. Hi Halle,

      I think that the best thing is that I have got to the point where it is my decision. Up until now I told people who started in the team as me being away for several months after my op could impact them, and trying to talk around why I was going to be gone for so long was harder than simply telling them.

      I think that if I worked in an office where no one knew my history then I would probably not tell anyone unless I grew close to them and it came up with the little man and whose child he is.

      Good luck with the coming years - for all the stress that it brought with it it was totally worth it!