Should I disclose my gender identity while job hunting?

I have been applying for jobs recently and it had led to an odd dilemma. Every single job that I apply for asks for my gender (for diversity purposes, I guess). So far I have always entered male since I am not out yet, but I have been reconsidering this plan. I am not a man and listing that as my gender just doesn’t feel right. More importantly, I am concerned that this will lead to issues down the line. I will need to disclose my gender identity eventually and waiting to do so may lead to conflict.

The primary reason that I am presenting male on my job hunt is to avoid facing employment discrimination for being transgender. Given that I live in a capitalist society where being employed is necessary to keep a roof over my head, being discriminated against in employment is a serious threat to my health and safety. Although discriminating against trans people in employment has recently become illegal in the United States, it still happens. As much as I hate it, I don’t doubt that me being trans would be a factor in me getting hired or not. By presenting as a man in my job hunt, I can avoid facing employment discrimination for being transgender.

Secondly, my gender identity is none of my employer’s business and is irrelevant for hiring purposes. I do not owe them disclosure on this topic. My gender has no bearing on my ability to do my job, so I see no ethical reason for me to disclose. I am aware that the question is required by law for diversity purposes, however, providing my real gender or new name effectively outs me during the first interview. I do not owe a potential employer the disclosure of my gender or that I am trans.

While hiding the fact that I am trans may allow me to avoid employment discrimination, I suspect that I am merely delaying the inevitable. Most of my interviews at the moment are over the phone or over zoom and it is easy for me to present as a man in these interviews. However, I am becoming less and less confident that I can maintain that illusion in person. I am failing to present as male in my day-to-day life where I can wear multiple layers, I doubt that it will work in the standard uniform of my profession: a polo shirt and khakis. Even if I can get through the interview process, I doubt that I could stay in the closet for long once I start working.

Ultimately, I am faced with the choice between being open with my gender identity during the hiring process or after I get hired. Currently, I am exclusively presenting male to avoid trans discrimination but this isn’t perfect. I might get hired somewhere I would not if I was open about being trans, but do I really want to work somewhere that discriminates against trans people? My next job is likely where I will first come out and I would prefer to get not mistreated or fired when I do so. Being honest about my gender identity might avoid this, but it will also make my job hunt more difficult and effectively out me to everyone. I am uncertain about which is the correct choice.

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