The Closet at Work

First, I want to apologize for the hiatus. In the past few weeks, a lot has changed in my life. Changed for the positive. I wont go into it now, but I now have a 9-5 job that will be covering bills and such. For now, the posts will probably come less frequently, but I am planning on doing a post every week for now. Hopefully when things settle down, I’ll be able to post more regularly.

This post is one I am struggling to write, as I am in a situation now I never truly expected. I am at work, but I’m not out. There is a decent chance one of my coworkers will, at some point, read this post, so I hesitated starting this. However, I have always been very open, and I wish to continue to be. The company’s discrimination does include sexual orientation, but does NOT include gender identity and/or gender expression specifically. However, the language makes it seem possible they would protect transgender people.

At my new job, I’m not out yet. I think my immediate boss may know, but no one else does. It’s been a really, really interesting experience. For one of the first times in my lives, I am being seen not as a man, not as a transgender woman, but as a normal woman. I’m not facing awkward questions or uncomfortable glances. People aren’t dissecting me, trying to see what is different about me, trying to find flaws. Instead, I am being looked at as one of the few women in my department.

It’s so odd trying to get to know people at work. I’ve been vague about my relationship with another woman, I’ve had to tell only half stories about my life up until this point. If someone is talking to me about, for instance, high school, I have to leave out details that would out me. If someone asks me about when I was a little girl, I have to just smile and nod, or think up a careful half truth. This requires me to censor every story I tell, every word I say. When a guy makes some comment about how women wouldn’t understand, I have to just smile and giggle, knowing inside “No, I’ve been in your shoes. I know that feeling.” It is really a strain. Not to mention always worrying about someone somehow accidentally physically finding out.

I ran into someone I know from one of my speaking events yesterday at work, and I had to be quiet about where I knew the person from. It was really uncomfortable, knowing that both of us could be outted if either of us said something wrong. I wasn’t too worried, but I knew the troubles that both of us could have to deal with if either slipped up.

However, I have been able to find a few friends at work, one of which I was able to totally open up to. She is a very friendly woman, and her obvious compassion and caring made it clear to me that she would be a safe person to talk to. She told me at lunch the first day I met her about her son at some point, who is dating a woman who is older than him. Many people have cast judgement on her son for this, but she is just happy that her son is happy. She said something incredibly sweet about love being great no matter what, and it made me feel immediately she would understand my issues. And I was absolutely right. By the third day I was with her, she had figured out I was dating a woman, just by subtle hints and clues (as I am -terrible- at being in the closet). When I told her I was transgender, she immediately made it clear that I was accepted, and it didn’t matter to her. Since she has been with the company for quite some time, she knows a lot about the atmosphere and how well LGBT people are accepted. She assured me there wouldn’t likely be any problems, and told me about several VERY out gay people at the company. I wont be in her department next week, but I plan to stop by and visit frequently. I just hope she doesn’t mind me mentioning her here 🙂

It feels so much more safe and welcoming at work, just knowing there is one person I can go to if I am having problems. Not that she would be able to resolve the problem, just knowing I had someone at work to talk with about these issues. Also, her experience with the company is invaluable, and there is a decent chance she could help me navigate through some of the problems I may have at work in the future.

I also wanted to mention something I’ve found very interesting to navigate; flirting. I’ve talked about flirting before, but I want to talk about it a little more here. As I’ve said, flirting isn’t always a good or a bad thing. Sometimes it can make you feel flattered, other times it can be violating, and still others, it can be funny. I’ve already experienced all three types at work, and I’ve been there a week. It may just be because I am dealing with a large amount of people from a huge variety of backgrounds. However, I think part of it might be that they see me as a young, relatively attractive woman, rather than a transgendered person who they need to be extra careful around. Some guys can be a bit.. much with their flirting, but so far I’ve really just enjoyed being viewed as a normal girl.

I’m really nervous for the first time about being outted. However, my experience so far, the people I have ment, and the general attitude at the company is showing me that it will be safe when I am ready to be out. I hope that one day, I will be able to show this blog off at work, to talk to people and answer questions.

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1 Comment

  1. Dear Syster,

    I can totally empathize with this post, and sincerely hope your experiences are better than mine – and mine are pretty good!

    The job I currently have is my first job post-transition where no one knew me before. Some are/were able to discern my past by looking at me, but there are still others that, I think, see me as the woman I was always have been.

    Those that do know, don’t care. I use the ladies’ room with no problem, even chat with other women while I’m in there (something men, generally, do not do). 99% of my customers call me ‘she’ / ‘ma’am’ – even the upset ones use ‘look, lady’!

    Men don’t flirt with me, sadly, but then most of them are of a different race, and it’s quite possible they don’t date across racial lines – at least, that’s what I tell myself to reassure myself! 🙂

    I’m so happy you have a job, both for the money it brings, and the affirmation!

    Hugs and Kisses
    A Friend

    Reply

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