Out at work

After nearly two months of planning and preparation, I came out at work this week. Over the course of two meetings and an email, I came out to the entire company. It was probably one of the scariest things I have ever done and I was incredibly anxious. I didn’t have very high hopes and was frankly expecting it to go poorly. Despite these low expectations, coming out at work went incredibly well.

The first coming-out meeting occurred at the end of the day and was with my manager and his boss. This was the meeting that concerned me the most. Both of them are older men and my previous interactions with them didn’t lead me to believe they would take it well. Despite my worry, the meeting went very well. It was incredibly short, lasting only about 5 minutes in total. I said my short prepared statement explaining that I was trans and would be transitioning starting the coming Monday and opened it up for any questions. They immediately expressed support, which was unexpected. They didn’t ask many questions and the meeting ended quickly at which point I promptly left.

The second meeting went just as well. This was a slightly larger meeting with 3 of the people that I work with the most (two additional people were supposed to attend but called out). Unlike my previous meeting, this meeting was scheduled for the very beginning of the day. I went through effectively the same short speech and then again opened it up for questions. All three attendees were incredibly supportive, however, two of them made sure to state that they didn’t know the first thing about trans people. They didn’t ask many questions and the meeting ended just as quickly as the first.

Following this second meeting, HR sent out an email to the management of the varying departments at my job telling them about my transition, my new name, and my new pronouns. This was still incredibly early in the morning, and I was very worried about having to go through the rest of the day now that the news was out. My fear was ultimately unnecessary, as everyone acted the same. I went about my day interacting with plenty of people across departments and nobody acted oddly or even brought up me being trans. That is, until lunch. Apparently, it took 5 hours for the news of my transition to spread because starting at noon, I had one person after another show up at my desk to talk about my transition. Several of the visitors were people from the earlier meetings who now had questions, but several of them were strangers who I had never met before. While everyone was incredibly supportive and kind, a recurring theme was ignorance regarding trans people. Many people outright told me they didn’t know anything about trans people, a level of honesty I appreciate, but some were just confused. At least two people had trans people confused with drag queens, which led to some awkward conversations about what I was going to wear to work. Despite this ignorance and confusion, nobody was cruel or hurtful and everyone I spoke to was generally supportive.

I wasn’t prepared for coming out at work to go this well. I had expected to face some pushback or at least bewilderment, but everyone I have spoken to has been incredibly supportive. Even people who I thought would be transphobic have been very cool about it. I honestly don’t know what to make of it. On one hand, I am excited that it has so completely surpassed my expectations. But I also struggle to believe that this is real and that these people are genuine. I am nervous about my first week presenting as a woman at work, however, for the first time I am cautiously optimistic that it will go well.

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