Community Conversation > Coming out of the closet

Coming out at work soon

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RandiL:
I posting this to attract your thoughts, opinions, concerns, suggestions about coming out at work.

I've been out to my two closest team members for awhile now, and for several years to a few other co-workers. But being out of the office on pandemic duty I doubt word has spread around.

But we're starting back into the office in early July. This is going to force my hand on coming out of the closet formally at work. I could still get away with male mode, but I just don't want to. I've been 100% full time since October, even on work Teams meetings (although who can really tell on the video feed?).

I'm well known in the 160+ person IT department. Before I retired I was one of the technical leads and was highly visible (and if I may say, well respected). I retired because they were giving me more management responsibilities and it just wasn't fun anymore. Now I'm back as a contractor, doing just the technical work with no possibility of management roles. All this to say there's no way for me to be stealth. The majority of the people I encounter in the office will have known me in my male expression.

So, how to reduce the spectacle and just get on with life as Randi? I have seen many threads here as people discuss their own coming out stories and I understand there are many valid paths. Here is how my management wants it to go, and a list of some potential issues.

My supervisor has been very supportive ever since I came out to her a few months ago. The first words out of her mouth were to ask about my pronouns. She has since talked to her manager, who is also serving as the interim general manager of the entire IT department. He would like to meet with me before we come back into the office (i.e. late June) to understand the strategy, name, pronouns, etc. I believe he'll be supportive. We are after all a municipal enterprise in a state where it is illegal to discriminate against somebody for their gender identity or expression (in fact Colorado just passed a new law last week making this fully explicit).

Some things are clearcut:

* Name: Randi
* Pronouns: She/her/hers (this is still a challenge for me to internalize)
* Expression: Anything I feel like. I'll probably go with skirts and dresses for awhile just to get everybody over the hump to understanding that this is for real and I'm serious about it.
I have a few questions and concerns:

* Announcement: I'm inclined to put together a general announcement to all of IT, since the word will spread in any event. It's going to be the only way to avoid having to constantly explain myself and to tell the proper story in the manner I prefer. I don't know if they'll want to circulate something to management first or if I just write an email blast to everybody. Or something else, perhaps on Teams. Or scary thought, a live announcement at an all-IT virtual meeting on Teams.
* Bathrooms: I could get away with using the women's restroom since of course they have stalls. I don't know how I feel about that yet. There may be a gender-neutral bathroom on the first floor of the building, but there isn't any on the floor where I work.
* Locker room:  As for the locker room, I will need to change clothes after riding my bike in to work, and for my lunchtime workouts. I haven't been in there but it's small and likely has the same layout as the men's, where most people sit in front of their locker and change there, and there is a single-use shower with a curtain. I could change in the shower, but I don't know if that's the general practice amongst the other women. I wouldn't want to make people uncomfortable. I have the legal right, but what's the best way to go?
Ok, I'm probably missing something major, but it's a start anyway. Your thoughts?

Angelaney:
I think email is a good way to go, IF it's a company where people check their email regularly, i've worked for many companies where email was such a privilege that most people either didn't have it, or didn't check it.
Getting the word out before the rumour mill kicks in, or just to kerb that rumour mill, is good strategy.

Bathrooms, I would look for the disabled bathroom until things settle, in the UK they're legally required even with no disabled staff.

Locker rooms, that's a tricky one, mixed reactions, some people will be fine, some will be fine to your face and freaking out to management behind your back, you're just going to have to see what happens and do the best you can.



I've had a very androgynous non-binary appearance for over 10 years, i'm not out at work, but them i'm not working right now. I've previously had some issues over my hair, nasty stereotypes, i've had strange looks when I've got my nails painted, and i've had a few strange looks when wearing shiney tinted lip balms.

BUT the worst things I ever experienced a workplace were nothing to do with gender, and came about because I was too good at my job, too experienced and too skilled, in fact that's the dominant theme of my 20 year work history.

The only place where I think being out, might be a problem, is at job interviews, but even then i'm not so certain. Not in the days of diversity quotas.

Pammie:

--- Quote from: RandiL on June 01, 2021, 11:53:08 pm ---I posting this to attract your thoughts, opinions, concerns, suggestions about coming out at work.

I've been out to my two closest team members for awhile now, and for several years to a few other co-workers. But being out of the office on pandemic duty I doubt word has spread around.

But we're starting back into the office in early July. This is going to force my hand on coming out of the closet formally at work. I could still get away with male mode, but I just don't want to. I've been 100% full time since October, even on work Teams meetings (although who can really tell on the video feed?).

I'm well known in the 160+ person IT department. Before I retired I was one of the technical leads and was highly visible (and if I may say, well respected). I retired because they were giving me more management responsibilities and it just wasn't fun anymore. Now I'm back as a contractor, doing just the technical work with no possibility of management roles. All this to say there's no way for me to be stealth. The majority of the people I encounter in the office will have known me in my male expression.

So, how to reduce the spectacle and just get on with life as Randi? I have seen many threads here as people discuss their own coming out stories and I understand there are many valid paths. Here is how my management wants it to go, and a list of some potential issues.

My supervisor has been very supportive ever since I came out to her a few months ago. The first words out of her mouth were to ask about my pronouns. She has since talked to her manager, who is also serving as the interim general manager of the entire IT department. He would like to meet with me before we come back into the office (i.e. late June) to understand the strategy, name, pronouns, etc. I believe he'll be supportive. We are after all a municipal enterprise in a state where it is illegal to discriminate against somebody for their gender identity or expression (in fact Colorado just passed a new law last week making this fully explicit).

Some things are clearcut:

* Name: Randi
* Pronouns: She/her/hers (this is still a challenge for me to internalize)
* Expression: Anything I feel like. I'll probably go with skirts and dresses for awhile just to get everybody over the hump to understanding that this is for real and I'm serious about it.
I have a few questions and concerns:

* Announcement: I'm inclined to put together a general announcement to all of IT, since the word will spread in any event. It's going to be the only way to avoid having to constantly explain myself and to tell the proper story in the manner I prefer. I don't know if they'll want to circulate something to management first or if I just write an email blast to everybody. Or something else, perhaps on Teams. Or scary thought, a live announcement at an all-IT virtual meeting on Teams.
* Bathrooms: I could get away with using the women's restroom since of course they have stalls. I don't know how I feel about that yet. There may be a gender-neutral bathroom on the first floor of the building, but there isn't any on the floor where I work.
* Locker room:  As for the locker room, I will need to change clothes after riding my bike in to work, and for my lunchtime workouts. I haven't been in there but it's small and likely has the same layout as the men's, where most people sit in front of their locker and change there, and there is a single-use shower with a curtain. I could change in the shower, but I don't know if that's the general practice amongst the other women. I wouldn't want to make people uncomfortable. I have the legal right, but what's the best way to go?
Ok, I'm probably missing something major, but it's a start anyway. Your thoughts?

--- End quote ---
Hi!
Is there a HR department? They may want to manage the process with you?
In terms of bathrooms I can’t believe there would be a problem with using the ladies though again HR steer is worth getting.
Good luck anyway hun! Xx


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Maid Marion:
Are you going to wear pants with no pockets?  Are you going to bring a purse or bag for your keys?
Is your wardrobe large enough to go to the office full time? 

You didn't mention shoes.  Shoes can be a big part of a women's wardrobe.  High heels are a sure way to attract attention via their distinctive sound.

Marion

Battle Goddess:
Great thoughts, Randi.

As per the bathroom, I think you have to consider that with your new designation and mode of dress, it would be wildly inappropriate to keep using a men's room. You thus get to use any other option that suits you.

On our recent road trip, DW seemed surprised that I walked into the women's room with her to take care of things. She asked afterwards whether I commonly did so. Sweeping my hand from head to toe, I asked, "Looking like this, you think I'm not?"


I'm also with Pammie in that HR needs to be in on this even if you're just a 1099 employee now. I have no doubt your management SPRINTED there upon hearing the news,  but you might want to confirm, and HR might even have some boilerplate language they want you to use.

Finally, you work in IT. A fair few will think it's cool, a tiny few will be aggrieved, and most won't give a hoot because we geeks only care about technical prowess. Betcha some won't even notice.

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