what's it like to tell coworkers your partner is trans?
June 21, 2016 1:38 PM   Subscribe

Soon my husband will begin publicly transitioning. I want my coworkers to start addressing him as my husband in casual conversation, but I'm kind of at a loss for the protocols or tactics for such an announcement.

I've told a few who I knew would be accepting. I told my boss, who was very supportive. Now, I want to take the next step.

I am hoping to find stories of or about people who had similar conversations at work. I've had people tell me "Here's how I told my coworkers I had cancer" or "Here's how I told my coworkers I'm gay" or "Here's how I told my coworkers I am trans" or "Here's how I told my coworkers I am getting divorced." I'm not really looking for those stories.

Please share with me your stories of how you told your coworker about your partner, people you know who did so, or links to similar stories online. What was the situation you were in, and what seemed to work well/not-so-well in that situation? Did you hit a point where things seemed to click? Did you make some blunders along the way that you now avoid?
posted by rebent to Human Relations (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I work at a place where a handful of people have transitioned and/or come out as genderfluid/genderqueer/otherwise-requiring-a-pronoun-shift. It really depends on how your workplace communicates in general. We have a very documentation-driven culture and a robust and active internal social network, and it seems like what people generally do is write up a document about it and share it out. This is of course if the colleague is the one transitioning, not a spouse. I think people are more careful to provide a doc when they're the one transitioning because coworkers are more worried about microaggressions when they have to keep working with someone whose gender situation they don't fully understand. With the additional layer of separation I think you can be a little more casual about it. I have to say, I have a coworker whose gender situation was a little more complex than I'm used to and it is honestly really nice to be able to refer back to their doc.

I don't think spouses need a formal document so much, but I've seen people post something on our internal social network along the lines of, "Hey, if you are someone who'll be in a position to socialize with my spouse, you should know that they are now going by the name Zippy and using the pronouns they/them/their. If you have any questions about this I'm more than happy to answer them."

The nice thing is that I've since seen other people come out who just link to a previous coworker's doc and say "They covered pretty much everything in the doc so I don't even need to write my own!" Which...is pretty much what documentation is for and it's awesome it can even sometimes apply to something so personal.

You may be able to tell that I work at a place that is both profoundly geeky and reasonably openminded. I don't know how many workplaces are like this, but it's one of the reasons I've been there for as long as I have.
posted by town of cats at 1:50 PM on June 21, 2016 [7 favorites]

I have mixed feelings about the various trans subreddits, but you might try r/mypartneristrans if you haven't already. That's probably the biggest conglomeration of partners of trans people you'll find, though there are some on MeFi.
posted by hoyland at 3:03 PM on June 21, 2016

The bloggers at Accidentally Gay have written about this a bit. Sorry I don't have links to specific posts.
posted by Lexica at 4:40 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just start using his preferred relationship term and pronoun whenever you talk about your husband.

You can tell the story if you feel like it, but they're not entitled to his transition narrative, or yours. It can just be a passing correction of fact.

Most people want to be polite and will roll with whatever you say. If they misgender him, you can correct them swiftly but gently, like its nbd. This is more or less how I handled it with my genderqueer non-transitioning partner of 12 year.
posted by ottereroticist at 4:45 PM on June 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm not trans, nor in a relationship with someone who is. But I do have coworkers, so this advice comes from the point of view of "what would I, as a cishet person expect/want from an interaction like this"

Do your coworkers ever interact with your husband? (Office parties, socializing outside of work, etc.)

If no, then I think that just referring to him as your husband, and correcting people who remember you as having a wife by saying "X is my husband, actually" should be enough. A lot of people will not care (especially if they didn't know anything about your spouse beforehand). Some will be confused/curious, and you can then share as much as you want "X has decided to transition, I'm so happy for him." Some people will be assholes, and some people will pry to an extent that makes you uncomfortable (even if they mean well). I would ignore the assholes as much as possible, and deflect the nosey nancies by deploying "Well, X isn't really comfortable sharing that" or "that's kind of personal for us" as needed.

But, if people are going to see your husband during/after the transition, then maybe a quick note to the people who will be involved before the next time they seem him would be appropriate "Hey! X and I are looking forward to the picnic tomorrow. Just so you know, X is transitioning and doesn't go by Y or female pronouns anymore."

For me, this is a little different than a coworker coming out as trans themselves, because unless we are friends, I don't really give a shit either way about my coworker's personal lives. So, if you sent an email out to a huge list or something, I'd be annoyed that you'd be bothering me with your personal crap. Same goes, btw, for coworkers who are coming out as gay/lesbian/bi -- if I'm your friend, tell me the way you would tell a friend, otherwise I don't care. On the other hand, when a co-worker transitions, I need to know what name and pronouns they prerfer if they want me to use them -- then it makes sense for a larger blanket email.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:12 AM on June 22, 2016

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