Coming Out at Work

Three people in my immediate workplace know I’m transitioning: my HR rep, my immediate supervisor, and one trusted colleague. So far I have only come out via one-on-one conversations. At work, I fear having too many individual conversations will simply get the rumor mill turning, which is not how I want people finding out. I don’t think transition is gossip-worthy, but I imagine many other people do. I want to manage the flow of information and maintain control of my own coming out.

My plan was:

  • 3 months before birthday: Come out to boss/HR (check)
  • 1 month before birthday: Come out to upper management
  • 1 week before birthday: Come out to immediate team
  • Day before birthday: Have upper management draft an email to my branch/draft my own email to those I work with remotely
  • Birthday: Take a few days off/let management offer a Trans 101 course to those interested
  • After birthday: update badge, email address etc.

A few kinks in the plan:

  • Physical transition unpredictable
  • Need legal name change

And the real problem is that we are still almost two months away from my birthday, and while I don’t look particularly different, I do sound different. One colleague has asked if I had a cold, and a few have given me quizzical looks as I spoke. If I keep going at this rate, I will need to spill the beans ahead of schedule.

BUT–I can’t change my work badge or email account until I legally change my name. That process may take a while, and I still haven’t decided on a nameI don’t like the idea of being out while still having to use my current name at work. On the other hand, I also don’t like the idea of rushing to decide before I feel ready. I recently read a blog post on Dear Cis People about a guy who had to do a second legal name change because he had initially felt rushed to transition.

Before I panic, I think I’m going to need to touch base with my trusted colleague and get a reality check on whether other people are noticing. After all, those who don’t know that I’m transitioning aren’t looking for changes (unlike me, who is scrutinizing every last hair on my body for signs of progress).  Maybe I have more time left than I think.

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