I’ve been worried about getting a job while I’m transitioning or, for that matter, after transitioning (if there will be an “after” – something tells me transitioning may go on forever, or at least for a very long time). I mean, I have a job now, it’s just not a very good one. So for the past couple of years, I’ve been on the lookout for something better, something like I used to do.
But now that I’m living in in-between land, all the complications come to the surface. My name, for starters. The legal change to Hannah is in the court system, and it may be there for some time. Then there’s my appearance, my voice, my everything. If I haven’t been able to find a good job as a man, what are my chances as not-a-man but not-yet-a-woman?
Or maybe more accurately, not usually looking like a man anymore, and not yet really looking like a woman. What I feel is the important thing, I know that, but the rest of the world doesn’t see my feelings. They see what’s in front of them.
All of those things have been weighing on me, and while they don’t make me doubt that I’m doing the right thing, they do make me wonder what kind of idiot would intentionally make things much more difficult for themselves.
Well, this type of idiot, I guess. When it comes right down to it, though, it isn’t like waiting to find a job before I started transitioning would have solved the problem. It probably would have only made it worse.
The waiting part would have been worse because life is short. And letting everyone at a company get to know me as one person, then asking them to accept me as another person would have been worse.
But today, miracle of miracles, I was offered a job. A good job.
Kind of. Meaning the legal name thing makes it so that all the paperwork has to be Michael, for the time being anyway. But my new employer is letting me be Hannah as far as (most of) the company is concerned.
To say I feel lucky is the queen of all understatements. It isn’t legal to discriminate against someone looking for a job based on their gender identity, here in California, anyway. But making something illegal doesn’t stop it from happening. It’s easy to say, “Oh, that had nothing to do with why we turned you down,” and then you’re off the hook.
And the complications that are tangled up with this early stage of transitioning make you question who to tell and when to tell them. Like, do you lead with that? “Hi, thanks for talking to me about a possible job. By the way, I’m trans.”
Honestly, that’s what I felt compelled to do. Because I wanted to be above-board, and I guess I just thought it was fair to let the company know what they were getting into.
But when I asked the guy who contacted me about the job if he told the HR woman I talked to that I was transitioning, he said, “No. From a hiring perspective, it doesn’t change anything.” He was right, of course, but I was thankful that he laid it out like that. It took a weight off my shoulders. The HR person who does my paperwork will have to know, and he said he’d probably want to tell the COO of the company, but everyone else, he said, didn’t need to know.
That’s a pretty progressive dude, and it tells me that it’s a pretty progressive company. Or at least it wants to be. And wanting to be is the first step to being. And it’s a million times better than the alternative, which could be anything. But likely not anything pretty.
So yeah, talk about fortune smiling on me, it did today. It wasn’t all luck, since the guy who created and offered me the job is someone I’ve known for probably 16 years. In fact, I hired him for a job 16 years ago. We are friends in that way that people who work together can become friends, but we weren’t close friends. We’d go years without talking sometimes. But he always stayed in touch, and now what goes around has come around.
And he wouldn’t have offered me the job if he didn’t think I was right for it, so that’s not luck either, it’s experience. And expertise, if I can be so bold as to claim to be an expert at anything. But I’m an expert at what I’m going to be doing, and not many other people are. So maybe it’s like that old philosopher said (or is supposed to have said), “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Well, I got an opportunity today, and it’s an extraordinary one, considering where my life is at the moment, so I’m grateful.