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Need Some Advice Please

Yep, just like the title says, I’m writing this one looking for some knowledgeable advice, particularly from my trans  brothers and sisters who are out to everyone, or if you are cisgender and have had someone come out to you. All comments are very welcome and appreciated, and I would love to hear as many opinions as possible. I know at least 200 people read each post here at Michellelianna, and another 80 or so in PE, so hoping for some good perspective. J

At this very moment I’m out to family, friends, and pretty much everyone with the exception of work. That is coming down quick, and depends on the completion of the room they are converting to a unisex bathroom to accommodate me without putting anyone out. I’m comfortable with that by the way, and very grateful to HR here for really standing behind me. Anyway, sometime between now and June I’ll be making a series of announcements, or a mass announcement to let people know I will be coming into work looking a little different. I’m pretty excited, and have some conflict with the way the announcement part is going to happen.

My original plan was to: (1) Schedule a meeting with HR and my boss and let him know (2) Schedule a meeting with our president/ site director and senior staff and let them know (3) Schedule a meeting with my staff (6 people) and let them know (4) Talk to individuals I have known a long time here and let them know (5) Send out a letter of announcement and explanation to everyone else. The letter was inspired by the one Jenny Boylan included in She’s Not There and HR seems to really like it. Here was my thinking. People who are closest to this, such as my boss and my staff have the right to be told directly by me as this is the most courteous way of doing it. I felt it showed them respect and gave opportunity to ask questions, etc right away. I also believe it’s harder to hate you to your face for something that may not be so well understood.

Now my mother doesn’t think that is such a hot idea. Her point is that when told face to face it comes across as a blindside leaving the person being told somewhat speechless and caught like a deer in the headlights. Her idea was that it might be kinder to send out the letter to everyone first and follow up with face to face a day or two later after people got a chance to digest the news. Her idea is that some people don’t react so well when surprised and it may lead to something said or felt that would be later regretted by that person, putting them into an awkward position, especially if they work for me. These are some really good points.

I’m on the fence about this. I feel almost cowardly hiding behind a letter, and that there might be some feelings about not being told to their face, especially in cases where I have known these individuals for almost 11 years now. On the other hand, giving people the freedom to have their initial reaction in private while they come to terms with the news may well have more benefit. I truly don’t know. I do know that many are going to inclined to say I should do what is most comfortable for me and let the rest be damned. The catch is that the most comfortable way for me is doing it in a way that is most comfortable for the people being told.

Again, I would love thoughts, inputs and even person experiences here if you are at all inclined to share. In advance, I thank you!

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About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

6 responses »

  1. That’s a really tough call. I can see positives to both approaches but I would tend to favor the first option. When I came out at work (a much less formal/office situation, a riding stable) I basically just told everyone face to face. Some people didn’t like it, but that was OK as they weren’t that close to me to begin with and everyone still had to get on with their jobs. Hope you get some clear direction sister and hope that actual process goes well for you. HuGGzz.

    Reply
  2. If you’re worried about giving people, especially your subordinates, space to process, try using the telephone. Call them from another office and tell them the news briefly and then invite them down the hall to talk to you face to face if they want to. They will then have the freedom to roll their eyes or whatever without having to worry about your reaction.

    Another thing to consider is that by the time you actually “tell” them, most will have figured it out for themselves.you have worked closely with some of these people for more than a decade. They are most likely already on to you at some level.

    A final thought. Start with your most trusted friend, and tell them. Then lean on them for support as you expand your circle one by one. I am doing this at my College right now and it is working well. Also, once you tell someone, solicit their advice on how to tell the next person. This will do two things, first, you may get some good ideas, and second, these people will be more likely to see themselves as your ally if they feel part of the process.

    Reply
  3. I don’t know if there is a right way or a wrong way just as long as it’s your way that’s what counts. This is a personal issue!! That’s why I just did it slowly and really didn’t say much about it. When asked I let it fly. Right way, wrong way, I don’t know? Just do it the way you feel you need to. I agree with your mother except the part about writing a letter. People will assume the craziest view of what a trans person looks like, not everyone but there was a few people close to me that did. I kept them as my friend but it didn’t look good at first. The friends I didn’t tell noticed and asked they seemed to do better, I think, I could be wrong but its because they could see what I was doing verses haveing to imagin transitioning. Most of my friends were just fine with it, alittle taken but fine. I hope this helps it a hard thing to get past but it will be fine, youll see. My best to you:)

    Reply
    • Thank you Tedie, always. 🙂 Just to be honest though, I’m still waffling on the letter. i did poach it from Jenny Boylan (I wrote her and asked first) and I think it’s a pretty good one. I’ll get there friend. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Hey Michellelianna,

    Nearly exactly one year ago, I was in the same position as you are now. I was out to everyone, except at work, and I didn’t quite know how to tackle that. I had told my bosses, and though they fully supported me, they left it to me how to bring it to my co-workers. Eventually, I chose to tell my closest colleagues personally, and to send the rest an e-mail. I wrote a little bit about it here: http://twelvemistymountains.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/my-life-part-2/

    Your plan sounds almost exactly like the way I handled it. It worked out really well for me (though maybe just because they had already felt it coming, and were relieved I was “figured out”). In my experience, people appreciate it when you open yourself up to them, face to face. Just be open about it, and bring it lightly. 🙂
    Good luck!

    Reply
    • Thank you! It’s very nice to hear from someone who just did this (relatively speaking) and very comforting to hear a good outcome story. Very good to hear I’m on a path that worked well and recently. Thank you! 🙂

      Reply

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