I have known, and been told by several key people in senor leadership across my organization just prior and immediately following my “coming out” at work, that there are going to be a lot of eyes on me during my transition at work. People will be waiting to see how the organization as a whole responds to me being transgender, and also how I handle it. Perfect. No pressure. But I sort of knew that was going to be the case.
In my organization with 23,000 stakeholders right outside my door, I am the most senior person that has transitioned. My situation was going to set the standard for others to follow. So I was/am committed to making sure that others behind me, that are in the early stages of their journey, know that it is going to be okay, at least in their work environment. I’m on a mission to make sure that it will be okay!! Several changes have been made, and are being made as a result of my coming out, so that they will not have the same battles. And that is ongoing as I find some things that initially slipped through the cracks. So it continues.
As a result of all of this, I was approached yesterday by a colleague who is a young woman whom I know, but have very little interaction with as a result of my job. But we see each other in the hallway, share casual conversations in our brief encounters. She’s a real sweetheart, (with killer eyes and amazing hair. So jealous!! reference my post from yesterday). Anywho…
What she said completely caught me off guard. She asked if she could book some time with me, to which I said “of course”. She then went on to say that since I came out in June, she has had some changes in her life too, finding herself in the midst of a divorce. As I am pretty much an open book, she knows of my life changes around the same time….heart surgery, coming out as trans, divorce, etc. She said that she watched as I came through all of that with such grace and strength, she wants to know how I do it. She finds herself struggling just in the day to day things because of the divorce, that she can’t imagine piling on other things as major as coming out, etc.
So she wants to meet to listen to my story in a bit more detail, talk about what I did to get over it or through it and how she can do the same thing. I was somewhat taken aback. Of course, I am more than happy to provide whatever guidance or counsel I can. I’m just not sure what I can provide her with. But I will support her any way I can.
It just goes to show that you never know who is watching. And I would suspect that this is the case for all of us in the trans community. Like it or not, we are being watched. Both by those that are Cisgendered to see how we handle becoming our authentic selves and act in society, and those that are trans to see how society reacts to us. To get a sense if it is safe for them to come out, so to speak.
I know that I certainly scoured the earth for people I could follow after they came out for the very same reason. For those of us that are full time, it is our turn to be the example. Like it or not, fair or not, it is thrust upon us without anyone asking. And unless your are successful in being totally stealth, it will happen. And it could be worse. At least for me, the spotlight is dim and tiny, if it exists at all. I can’t imagine what it’s like for those that are in the solar like spotlight. Love her or hate her, I don’t know how Caitlyn Jenner does it. Everything she does, everything, is scrutinized, criticized, analyzed….it must really suck! Particularly when she didn’t asked to be the spokes person, it was immediately thrust upon her by the press. Her previous celebrity pretty much dictated it. Producers were constantly dictating how it was going to be managed. She never once came out saying that she wanted to represent all trans people. Yes, she wants to help, she tries to support, but is still trying to figure out what that is like, while at the same time, is trying to settle into her authentic life. And we don’t know the whole story, only what we see in the press, which, less face it, is not the whole story. So, I guess I’m fortunate in the respect.
But for me, in my very tiny corner of the world, it’s payback time. A debt that I am more than happy to repay. So keep this in mind. You may be there already, or it may be coming, but know that people are watching. Just another reason to be the very best you, you can be!