Island Girl - Coming Out at Work

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This is the story of my coming out at work.

WARNING.................This worked for me..........it may not work for you...............Only YOU know how your Employer will react

Coming out at work is probably one of the hardest stages of ones transition. It can have repercussions that could affect your future within your company. At the same time it is essential if you are to live 24/7 in your new role. This is my experience. I hope it will give you some confidence when you come to do it.

BACKGROUND

I had worked for the company for 14 years and had a fairly senior position which occasionally required me to travel to the Far East, (S. Korea & China) and Europe. I was living full time as Debbie….except for work. I was waiting for my first appointment at Charring Cross which I had anticipated would be 3 or 4 months ahead. I decided to inform my company in order to give them time sort things out. This is how it went.

MONDAY 28th JANUARY 2002

I wrote a letter to the HR dept explaining the situation and stating that I would need to live full time as Debbie which would necessitate me working as Debbie. I put it all in a letter as I knew that I would not be able to state my case without my emotions screwing me up causing me to miss bits out. I made an appointment to see the HR Manager the following morning at 9.30.

TUESDAY 29th JANUARY 2002 9.30 AM

With a great deal of trepidation I entered the HR Managers Office, Handed her the letter and took a seat while she read it. I felt that I had just handed in my letter of resignation. What ever happened now there could be no going back.

The HR Manager read the letter, looked up at me and said "No Problem". The feeling of relief was unimaginable.

We then went on to have a short chat about me, what I would have to do to transition and so on. The meeting ended with the HR Manager saying that she would have to discuss the matter with the Company Directors and she would get back to me in a few days.

TUESDAY 29th JANUARY 2002 4.30 PM

I got a call from the HR Manager ……. Would I meet her straight away in my Directors Office. Fear ran through my head as I crossed the factory to The Directors Office. Maybe he was not as sympathetic as the HR Manager! When I entered his office, I found the HR Manager already seated, I was invited to take a seat. He went on to say that he did not have a problem with my Transition but he would have to discuss it further with the MD who was at that time in China and not due back for a couple of weeks. I assured him that was not a problem. He went on to discuss details of what the transition meant in terms of treatment, time that I would require to take off and so on. His only concern was that I was occasionally required to travel to China and S. Korea and that there may be problems with different cultures. He assured me that the company would work around that if it became a problem.

I drove home that evening feeling that a great weight had been lifted off me, I had told my employer s………. and still had a job!

WEDNESDAY 30th JANUARY 2002 8.45 AM

I arrived at work to find the HR Manager waiting by my desk. She asked me to accompany her into my Managers Office, and to tell him about me.

On entering his office the HR Manager told him what we had discussed the previous day after a short discussion my manager stated that he would rather me transition the following Monday rather than at Easter as I had first intended. Thus there would be less time for rumours to develop, I agreed to this although I was surprised at the speed things were developing. He went on to say that he wanted to call a meeting of all the managers that I came into contact with to put them in the picture straight away. A meeting was arranged for 9.30AM.

WEDNESDAY 30th JANUARY 2002 9.30 AM

The Managers meeting was convened in a small meeting room in the corner of the open plan office in which I worked, I attended the meeting along with the HR Manager.

The managers were told of the situation, still no problems. After a short discussion it was decided that The following Monday was not an option, indeed they did not want to wait that long, they wanted Debbie to make her first appearance the ‘NEXT DAY!!!’.

There was one more thing to be agreed,

‘THE USE OF FACILITIES’. There was a further meeting called for 9.45AM for all the female members of staff, this time without me being present. The HR Manager told the girls what was happening. They all agreed that I could use the ‘Facilities’.

The only thing remaining was to tell my workmates. As it was approaching tea break it was decided to wait until 11 AM. By this time everyone was getting nervous, it had been noted in the office that there had been a lot of meetings going on with the HR Manager always present. Everyone was worried about their jobs……..Looming Redundancies?

WEDNESDAY 30th JANUARY 2002 11.00 AM

All the staff in my office and those from other departments that I worked with were called together in the open plan office that I worked I …….. fearing the worse. There were around 40 present.

I stood along with my manager and the HR Manager in front of the meeting, now until this point the HR Manager had done all the talking at the meetings, I had only answered any questions that arose.

The HR Manager stepped forward, thanked everyone for attending And said that there was nothing for them to worry about but Derek had an announcement to make. She then took a step back, leaving me to tell the story. Did I want that floor to open up and swallow me!

I told everyone that I would be Debbie from the next morning, when they heard the reason for the meeting, there was a collective sigh of relief, their jobs were not at risk!

I told them that I would be available for the rest of the day if anyone had any questions. Only one lady asked to have a chat, and it was only to say that someone she knew had done the same thing and to wish me good luck.

THURSDAY 31st JANUARY 2002 8.00 AM

The first day at work, and I was determined to be the first in the office. I did not want to walk into a reception.   Hence I arrived early and was at my desk before anyone else arrived ……….. not that I needed worry as   everyone just treated me normally, and remembered (for the most part) to call me Debbie.

The company could not have been more supportive although I was not given an easy ride in the first few   days.

FRIDAY 1st FEBRUARY 2002

We had a sister company 40 miles or so away from our office where I sometimes had to visit, I was well known there as I had worked there for ten years before being transferred to my current office. HR felt that I should pay the other factory a visit to stop any rumours. So that afternoon I found an excuse to visit the other site. I walked onto the factory floor only to come face to face with a guy I hardly knew other than by sight, a real rough type - skin head, LOVE & HATE tattoos on the knuckles, I am sure you will recognise the type……….and he was making right for me!!!

As he approached me he stuck out his hand and shook mine, He said "You are a better man than I will ever be, it takes guts to do what you have done, good luck" and he was gone. I felt good that I had that sort of reception from someone in other circumstances I would have crossed the road to avoid.

REMEMBER THIS IS HOW I CAME OUT AT WORK, YOU MAY NOT FIND IT SO EASY - BE SURE OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING, THAT IT IS RIGHT FOR YOU AND BE PREPARED FOR THE WORSE.

February 2004

I was made redundant from my job. This was nothing to do with my transitioning. The company was having a general 'downsizing' many of my Colleagues, Managers and even Directors were also made redundant or took early retirement.

Over the coming months I had several interviews and even explored the option of starting my own business.

Being off work did allow me to have  my surgery and recover fully without the pressure of working.

August 2005

After 18 months of unemployment I found new work and at the time of writing am still working in my new job. I applied for the job as Debbie and did not tell the company that I was a transsexual and they never asked. I have been accepted as one of the girls in the office. If anyone knows or suspects about me they have kept it to themselves. that is all I can really expect. The only near thing I had was in the first week when I was asked for my birth certificate by the company for pension purposes. I told the company that I had mislaid it during my house move and offered my passport instead. Thankfully this was accepted.