How do I come out as trans at a new job?
May 23, 2021 6:31 AM   Subscribe

I have just recently come out as transgender to my social circle. However, I started a new job just this past week, and all my documentation is in my deadname as I haven’t started the paperwork process. We’re also all remote right now. I also don’t have much of a feel yet for how the place and my co-workers will take it. (We create and maintain websites for lawyers, if that helps people with the advice.) It’s a small company (about 25 people) and not much formal HR process - all the paperwork is outsourced. They talk about respect for others, but my experience isn’t there to see it yet. (My three direct co-workers and my supervisor have all be very nice, and very helpful, but that’s workplace.) I haven’t told anyone at work yet. Eventually, though, there will be a return to the office, and hormone effects, and it won’t be avoidable. I’m hoping to get ahead of it and be myself 24x7 instead of spending 40 hours a week cosplaying. Any ideas would be helpful. Thank you.
posted by mephron to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: No direct experience here, so take it for what it’s worth, but I’d rip the bandaid off and do it immediately, before they get used to your deadname and to misgendering you. You’ve got a short window where if you come out fast, your real identity will be the only version of you that people at this job will have gotten to know, and that seems much easier for everyone. I would talk to the hiring contact immediately, explain that your name-change paperwork is still in process, but that it makes sense for your worklife to use your real name interpersonally even if it’s going to take a bit to get it on all the documentation.

(Possible downsides — they could freak out and fire you, with whatever level of plausible deniability. It’s not clear from the question what the financial implications are: if getting fired would be a disaster, then there’s an argument for waiting until you’re confident they’ll be decent. But if finding another job wouldn’t be a nightmare, I’d come out as soon as you could.)
posted by LizardBreath at 6:55 AM on May 23, 2021 [9 favorites]


I was going to say that my transition experience was in a sufficiently differently context that I can't comment on timing, but then it occurred to me that doing it (well) before you return to the office helps dodge the bathroom issue. Broadly speaking, cis people do best when given instructions and not explanations--"Use $name for me and pronouns like x, y, z" (never assume someone knows what a pronoun is, give examples, don't say "my pronouns are").
posted by hoyland at 7:58 AM on May 23, 2021 [8 favorites]


Best answer: Deniability or no, I think any employer would be pretty dumb to fire an employee that had just come out as trans now, as Bostock v. Clayton County explicitly expands employment protection to include LGBT people and they would be opening themselves to a pretty obvious law suit.

To back off the potential catastrophe a bit, I’m fully remote and did this back in September and it went really well. With a workplace that size, I would suggest finding a way to tell everyone at once, that way you can manage the messaging and you don’t have to worry about who knows and who doesn’t. After talking to my boss first I actually came out on Slack (I can DM you the actual message I used if you are curious.). I think this wasn’t a bad call, as it was a lot less awkward than it would have been in, say, a zoom, but allowed people to react and comment in a way that email doesn’t really allow.

My experience has been that people caught on pretty quickly with my name and pronouns, and often when people slipped up, it was other coworkers who jumped in to correct them. Now, 8 months or so in, it never really happens.

The actual name change, like in IT systems and HR and that kind of stuff, has more potential to be annoying. I’ve heard of workplaces that do a better job of this, but be prepared for a patchwork of old and new names for a while, at least until you can get a legal name change which should straighten everything out (at least that’s what I’m hoping!).

Anyway, good luck, and feel free to DM me if you have any other questions.
posted by Shellybeans at 11:52 AM on May 23, 2021 [4 favorites]


If your workplace is like mine, they may refuse to make any IT changes whatsoever until you have legal name change paperwork in place. Worth checking, if you don't want to come out and then have your email address still with the deadname for weeks while you get it sorted.
posted by quacks like a duck at 12:02 PM on May 23, 2021


At my organization at least, it has become more common to put one's pronouns in one's email signature.
posted by oceano at 2:11 PM on May 23, 2021


Best answer: The actual name change, like in IT systems and HR and that kind of stuff, has more potential to be annoying. I’ve heard of workplaces that do a better job of this, but be prepared for a patchwork of old and new names for a while, at least until you can get a legal name change which should straighten everything out (at least that’s what I’m hoping!).

Unfortunately, LDAP or Active Directory has a habit of being stubborn with its caching. I had a coworker whose whose old name would sometimes show up in the RSVP list to meetings, but not all the time, even though their name had been changed for ages. At my current job, IT's solution seems to be "pretend you're a whole new person", which is obviously a big pain in the butt (even if email redirects, you have to be re-added to things), but does solve the caching issue.
posted by hoyland at 3:37 PM on May 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


Different workplace context (she'd been at the job forever), but my partner talked to her supervisor and a few close coworkers, and then followed up with an all- staff email. Seems to have worked well. I don't think they're changing any paperwork until her name change finalizes, though.
posted by geegollygosh at 5:04 AM on May 24, 2021


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