I started at my new employer in January, moving to a company where nobody knows my old identity. All my records are in my correct name, my cv and LinkedIn in harmony, HMRC and bank accounts aligned. No regular clinic appointments to schedule and only a vague reference to elective procedures admitted under ‘Any major surgery?’ in my standard new employee questionnaire. I haven’t mentioned being trans at all, to anybody; I can’t remember even using the word here.
In this time, nobody has been horrible or crass. No whispers overheard or pointed comments. No exclusions or dismissive behaviour other than a woman in tech might expect. My colleagues are all, as you’d hope, really nice people.
Am I stealth? My own cynicism refuses to allow me that thought. In my own mind, everyone must know I’m trans through some slip of voice or posture. I’m clearly accepted as cisgender in casual interactions elsewhere, measured by routine indifference or occasional male lech … but what-if? Suppose, just suppose, one or two people haven’t realised my truth and they accept me only because they don’t realise I’m trans?
What then to do on Transgender Day of Visibility? I want to be open and out about being trans, doing so not only normalises the presence of trans people in everyday life, but acts as proof to those yet to come out that it can be done without shame. And yet … and yet … life is comfortable, life is nice. I’ve wanted for so long to be accepted as a woman and, right now, I am. As bigots seemingly queue around the block of weekend newspaper offices, patiently waiting for their chance to ‘open’ the ‘honest debate’ about whether trans women are real or trans men exist at all, the temptation to hunker down and not have to deal with transmisogyny is an undeniably attractive proposition. Dare I risk my unremarkable office existence and open myself to potential discrimination? When plain old misogyny is something to look forward to, you know its bad!
Yet hunkering down would also mean climbing back into a closet, this time of my own choosing, worried once more of being discovered for who I really am or unable to defend my trans siblings in discussion or, fate forbid, real life transphobia. If I uncover discrimination, then that is a good thing because it can then be tackled, backed by UK equality legislation, and the price I pay in mental health will be worth it. If I do one good thing in my life, then it has to be to make things a tiny fraction easier for other trans people.
So I’m going to come out, again, but this time I won’t be changing and, I hope, neither will my colleagues.
Part II was written after TDoV and is available here