Blog, Sweet Blog

To my coworkers

Posted on: Friday, April 24, 2009

Mood: What’s the word?  Alright!
Music: The Replacements-Seen Your Video

Hey y’all.  I just got done working on the final draft of a letter to my coworkers and I thought I’d share it with you…because it’s, you know, important and stuff.  The backstory is that we’re going to have an all-hands meeting on Monday, May 4th.  My boss and our institute’s director scheduled the meeting to tell everyone about little old me while I’m out of the office on vaca.  I’m not sure about exactly what will go on at the meeting, but I assume there will be some frank discussion of me, my plans, what bathroom I’m going to use, the severe penalties to be levied against anyone that makes me the least bit unhappy or gets out of line, donuts, a few jokes, and a little bit of crying followed by a group hug.  But seriously, they’re going to use that time to talk about me and get everyone’s feedback on all of this without me being there…which seems like a good idea to me.  At some point, hopefully sometime after they’ve told everyone the reason they’re at the meeting, my boss will read this…

Hi Everyone,

Wow, when I started here almost two years ago, I didn’t think this day would ever arrive.  I’m sorry to have to drag you all down here for another boring meeting, but, hopefully, this won’t take long.  As Director and Boss said, I have decided to change my name and start back to work presenting as a woman.  The reason I’m doing this is because I’m what’s commonly referred to as transsexual or a person that has been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (GID).  A more clinical definition for transsexual is a person who strongly identifies with the opposite sex and may seek to live as a member of this sex especially by undergoing surgery and hormone therapy to obtain the necessary physical appearance. People with GID are different than and shouldn’t be confused with drag queens, hermaphrodites, cross-dressers, or transvestites.  And even though the word “sexual” is right there in the word, transsexuality has to do with how a person perceives their own gender and has nothing to do with their sexuality…there are lesbian, gay, and straight transsexuals.

I’m sure a lot of you are wondering why I chose to do this here and now. There are a couple of reasons, actually.  The medical community has established the Benjamin Standards of Care as a way to treat GID.  These standards ensure that a person is physically, mentally, and emotionally stable enough to handle hormone replacement therapy and surgery.  Before a person can obtain clearance for surgery, they must participate in what the Standards of Care refer to as a Real-Life Experience for at least a year.  During this time, the person must live successfully in their desired gender by completing a legal name change and functioning as an employee, student, or volunteer for the entire year.  After a lot of soul-searching and preparation, I finally feel like this is the right time to start living my life.

The other reason I decided to make this change here is that redacted feels like home to me.  I have wanted to do this for a long time but, before now, I had never found a place that was worth the effort.  I love my job and I feel honored that I’m allowed to walk in the building and work with all of you.  I love the people here and the work we do and there isn’t any other place I’d rather be.  If I want to make this my home (and I do), then I need to be honest with all of you.  I’m not trying to over share my personal life or demand any sort of special treatment.  I’m just trying to present myself as authentically as I know how from now on.

So what’s next?  Well, after the six hour long sensitivity training seminar and magic show…just kidding! Alright, let’s talk about when I come back to work on Wednesday.  After a nerve-wracking drive into work and a good ten minutes of freak-out time in the parking lot, I’ll walk inside.  I will look and sound a little bit different, hopefully better.  I’ve already legally changed my name to Anna (like Anne-a, not Ahhhhh-nah) Elizabeth (like Elizabeth) redacted so I’ll be busy for a while getting a new badge and filling out paperwork.  If you spot me in the hall afterward and would like to say “hi”, please do…I swear this is not contagious 🙂 You can call me whatever you’d like, but I’d prefer Anna and for you to use female pronouns like her and she.  I know this won’t be easy at first and it’s totally ok if you mess up.  I’d much rather have you mess up and talking to me than afraid to say anything at all.  You can ask me just about anything you want privately, in person, over lunch, via email, on the phone, two months from now, during a walk, over drinks, on my Facebook page, whatever.  Or, we can never speak of this again…it’s totally up to you.  So, other than having a different name and gender, looking different, sounding different, and being way more happy, friendly, and outgoing, I’ll be exactly the same person.

Ok, we’re almost done here.  So I guess I really only have two favors to ask.  The first is that you treat me with the same warmth and respect you show each other every day…nothing more.  The second is that we keep this information to ourselves.  I’m not embarrassed of who I am or what I’ve gone through, but I think I should decide who to tell and when.  We’re all adults and you’re free to behave however you wish, but, when you think about it, this really isn’t anybody else’s business.  It’s your business because I decided to make this change with you, my work family.  And like it or not, we all just entered into a giant, Meet the Parents-style circle of trust…but anyone else needs to earn their way in.

And we’re done!  Thanks for listening.  I’m really excited to see you all on Wednesday, and I hope you enjoy Boss’s magic show!

At this point, I’m pretty sure someone in the audience will start with the slow clap then it will build to a thunderous, standing ovation with a few shouts of “Author!” and some long stemmed rose-throwing mixed in.  What do you guys think?

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5 Responses to "To my coworkers"

It would take me a year to put together one of these sorts of letters, so well done.

The only thing I would suggest is canning the “you can call me whatever you like” bit. I can understand that you don’t want to seem to be forcing the situation on people and you don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable, so my suggested edit – “you will call me ‘Anna’ or I will bitchslap you straight to HR with your nads stapled to your forehead” – may not be the way to go exactly, but still. Think about it before you go giving the office jerk full permission to call you “he”, “him” and “boyname” all the time.

Apart from that, needs kisses and hugs at the end, and you forgot to suggest that they all pool together to get you some flowers for being so brave and clever. In fact, you should also add that bit to your office email signature. You can never get too many flowers for being brave and clever.

Thanks Jamie, I’m pretty happy with it. Although, I’m really looking forward to the day I can stop writing about this. So yeah, I think you’re right. I had considered that when I wrote it, but I think I’ll change it. I was trying to be funny and sweet and warm, but the entire reason I’m writing this is because I want to tell people how to behave. And it isn’t a legal document, but I don’t think being more clear about what I want would hurt. Oh, and I appreciate your suggestion of ultraviolence, but that won’t be necessary. We maintain a Thunderdome-style battle cage to settle major disputes, but we usually only go until first blood.

🙂 Thank you, I’m trying to be as brave and clever as I can. I’m pretty sure it will pay off, but hugs, flowers, a larger office plant, lunch, or a sweet little group song would be appreciated. Even though those things would be nice, I certainly would never ask for them.

I came by to thank you for your your kind words to Jaime never expecting to find this post!

Having spent my entire working life at General Motors and before that the US Navy, I worry about the same part Jaime does because I’ve known too many of those jerks in my lifetime.

That said, I hope you work someplace there aren’t any of those and it won’t matter!

Thank you again for being you!

alan

Oh, thanks for stopping by Alan! Thanks for your advice, I agree with Jamie (as usual) and I think I’m going to change that bit. I think my first days will go pretty well. The people I work with seem really nice and are mostly academic/engineers/scientists, so they seem pretty open-minded.

[…] forget the megaWatts of energy expended in sweating worry, HR meetings, legal wrasslin’, and amazing letter writing before the big day, but it was all totally worth it.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been […]

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Hi, I'm Anna and I love cheese!

This blog is a chronicle of my life and a catalog of happy ephemera. The About page has a little bit more information, but, remember, none of this is really me...it's just a supplement, a thumbnail sketch, a mostly anonymous Intarwebs placeholder. I'm way better/less wordy in person. :-)

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