Best Way to Come Out at Work - For Any Gender Expressed Identity.
Coming out at work is scary. It feels terrifying. It gives you cold feet. Makes you sweat. Turns your stomach into knots. Questions your sense of identity. Makes you doubt yourself.
And may fill your head with thoughts of quitting your job!
Every imaginable account and every feeling you might feel that’s not listed above, I have personally seen and heard. Call it an occupational hazard. I like to call it “the endless reality of a gender diverse people.”
With one exception… The reality does come to an end. Because eventually, everyone takes the needed steps to come out at work.
Here is a harsh dose of reality. Most of us are replaceable. Here is another. The workplace is not our family or our loved ones no matter how much we feel that it is.
Why then, are people so afraid to come out?
Because gender diverse people face stigma and discrimination in the workplace every single minute of the day. The potential loss of employment is REAL! Harassment from co-workers can and is brutal.
Do I sound discouraging? Wait isn’t this a blog about coming out?
Acknowledging the stigma and discrimination is important because they are real and valid concerns. Because coming out is no joke!
While for some, coming out at work ends up being a positive, kumbaya experience, for others, it is a slow, painful climb up the hill of acceptance. For the rest, the possibility of a climb is not even in the cards.
Yet coming out is a part of the process. Especially if gender transition is your goal.
Over many years as a gender therapist, I have found one method that works the best when coming out at work.
No Seriously. Not snail mail. Email.
Whether you are working for a small or a large company, coming out via email has consistently shown to work.
For starters, let me note that you don’t owe anybody anything! Let me say that again: You don’t owe anybody anything!
But if you want to be seen, acknowledged, and accepted in your gender expressed identity, in the very least, informing your co-workers of what that entails is a must.
Or risk being misgendered.
The “you don’t owe anybody anything,” is about keeping your email short and to the point. Unless you want to divulge personal information such as how long you have been on HRT, and which surgery you have planned.
Trust me. Keeping it brief is the way to go.
It gets your message across. It clearly notifies others of your gender expressed identity. And it informs them to oblige.
Keeping the email too long or too personal risks overwhelming those who just don’t care, making their defenses rise. And we don’t want that.
Keep in mind that the ones who do truly care, will personally approach you and ask you all sorts of questions, including the dreaded ones.
If your are a part of a large enough company that has HR department, set up an appointment with them. Express your desire to come out at work.
Most HR representatives will have no clue on how to navigate these waters.
So feel free to set your own coming out plan that feels comfortable to you. If they do have a plan in mind, remember, this is still your coming out.
If your company doesn’t have an HR department, it’s a good idea to first notify your manager of your plans to come out. Then proceed with email.
Good luck and remember, you got this!
Here is an example:
I am writing to let you know that my expressed gender identity is non-binary and my preferred pronoun’s are they/them. I still prefer my current name.
Thank you, David
Here is another example:
I am writing to let you know that my expressed gender identity is transgender female and my preferred pronoun’s are she/her. My new name is Natalia and I will start presenting in my desired gender as a female.
Thank you, Natalia