Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Somewhere in a meeting room far, far away

    Today, my second in my new job, was the day I came out to my new boss. She didn't bat an eyelid.What a result!
    My feet have barely touched the ground so far this week. I guess the induction process of a very large company must be fairly universal, but since I've spent most of the last couple of decades either employed by slightly anarchic small companies or contracting on an hourly-paid basis for larger concerns it's something I've never been party to. The experience I relate it to most is that of starting school, the same terrors of getting lost in a huge campus, the same bewildering array of Senior People whose faces you are expected to remember. At least here I can't be sent to the headmaster's office if I slide on the parquet in the corridors. Yes. I was tempted. No. I didn't do it.
    So I now work for a publishing company, one whose products you've probably used at some time. It's an environment like none I've worked in before. A specific piece of my past work experience opened the door for me so I've been hired as an expert in my particular limited field rather than just an expendable general purpose coder amongst many. Sounds as if I'm blowing my own trumpet, but the trouble is among my colleagues are some seriously clever people. By that I mean dyed-in-the-wool brains trust, not rote-learning exam-passers or jammy gits with the gift of the gab, these are people who can figure out if you're not up to scratch in my kind of line pretty quickly. And they turn round and listen when I talk about my stuff, so even if I sometimes feel like an idiot I'd better be pretty damn careful not to sound like one.
    The office environment could not be more different to that of my previous employer. Gone is the banter, the references to drinking, jokes about whores and whatever else flew around between my ex-colleagues. Don't get me wrong, they're great guys, but all that really wasn't a help to me. In just a couple of days I've noticed I'm not bloking it up as I have had to for the last year. I'm just me, yes, a bloke, but not a BLOKE if you see what I mean. The girl fog will never go away, but I hope it's not being stoked any more. On top of that, the work I'll be doing is more interesting. A couple of years ago I was in the closet and doing this kind of work, then the recession happened and I had to abruptly switch jobs to much more mundane stuff. I'm convinced that move contributed to the mental stress that made my GD go out of control and forced me out of the closet, with luck this will help keep my brain occupied enough for me to stay on top of it. I can only hope.
    I said to my wife I'd judge my moment for the Long Chat with my boss. I had a pretext for it, an appointment with the consultant in a couple of weeks' time, so at least it wouldn't be such an awkward conversation to start. As it happened we had a meeting room to ourselves for an hour to go over all the boring stuff new employees have to sort out at department level once the corporate machine has spat them out, so it was convenient to bring it up at the end of that meeting. Straight into it, tell her I have the appointment, then "I think I'd probably better tell you why". How refreshing, someone to whom I don't have to explain what the words "Gender dysphoria" mean. I explained about the reasons for my path of trying to stay as a bloke, and that being open about it was one of my ways of dealing with it by removing the stress of secrecy. I won't be broadcasting it to all and sundry but I explained that if it does end up that people know about it then I won't be bothered because it isn't something I keep a secret. Her reaction was that it's a non-issue, in the context of my work I've been hired on the basis of what I've done, and I did that while having the same gender issues so why should it make any difference? Which is exactly as it should be. I had been advised that this employer was likely to be trans-friendly, here's my demonstration of that.
    A relatively trivial footnote: this employer issues company ID cards and door passes with a photo of the employee on them. Unusually for such photos, I don't find mine unappealing.

3 comments:

  1. Glad you found your niche with this company, now you can just live!

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  2. Sounds great! Oddly enough I work in an ex school and do slide in the corridors when wearing leather soled boots :)

    Great that your boss is so understanding.

    Stace

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  3. Thanks both!

    I'm still revelling in the environment change, there couldn't be more contrast!

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