Tea 14: How to Come Out at Work as Trans or LGBTQIA+
Coming out as transgender or LGBTQIA+ in the workplace can feel daunting, but with some preparation, it can be a smooth process.
Here are some tips on how to come out at work as trans or LGBTQIA+.
Do Your Research
Before coming out, take some time to get a sense of how supportive your workplace is. Most companies will be accepting, but some may have issues or individual people who are less open-minded.
Subtly bring up LGBTQIA+ topics in conversation to gauge people's reactions. If everyone seems generally supportive, that's a good sign. If you detect some resistance, you may need to be more strategic.
Also, take stock of your different relationships - who do you feel safest with? Who advocates for diversity? Identify potential allies who could support you during and after your transition. You want people in your corner.
Build Your Support System
Who you tell and in what order matters. Start by coming out one-on-one with any close allies you identified earlier. Explain what your transition will entail and that you're telling them because you value your working relationship. Ask them to help correct others who misgender you.
Next, set up a private meeting with your direct manager. Frame it positively - you appreciate working with them and want to continue collaborating, and you're sharing something important about yourself.
Explain that you're transgender, your new name and pronouns, and what your transition will look like moving forward. Offer to answer any questions they have.
Also, reach out to HR to get logistics in order - paperwork, email address changes, benefits, time off, etc. Note that HR exists to protect the company, not you, so be cautious about what you share.
Make an Announcement
Once you've told key individuals, it's time to tell your whole department or company. Doing so helps control the narrative and reduces gossip or confusion.
Send an email or make an announcement introducing yourself with your new name and pronouns.
Keep it simple - you're transgender and transitioning, so you'll have a new name and pronouns moving forward. Mention that you'll correct people kindly if they slip up. End on a positive note about how much you enjoy working there.
Correct Mistakes with Patience
It takes time for people to adjust to your transition. Be patient but persistent in reinforcing your correct name and pronouns, whether in meetings, emails, etc.
If someone slips up, gently interrupt with a quick correction, then move the conversation along. It's not personal, just humans building new habits.
Consider Bending to Social Norms
While you shouldn't have to adhere to cisgender norms, occasionally conforming can make your transition smoother.
Choose your battles - correcting pronouns is non-negotiable, but maybe tabling conversations about gendered bathrooms, for now, is strategically wise.
Focus on long-term goals over short-term wins.
Lean on Your Support System
Transitioning while working is tough. Lean on the allies you identified earlier as things get hard. Be honest with your manager if you need adjustments, like time off. They want you to succeed.
And remember - you are the center of your universe, but not everyone else's. People have their own worldviews that may cause conflicts unrelated to you. Focus on your goals.
With the right preparation and support, coming out to work can be rewarding. You get to live as your true, authentic self in all parts of your life. Though it takes bravery and patience, the outcome is worth it.
How to Come Out at Work as Trans or LGBTQIA+: Summary
Coming out as transgender or LGBTQIA+ in the workplace can be a daunting but rewarding experience. With careful preparation and the support of allies, you can create a smooth and successful transition.
Here are some key takeaways from the article:
- Do your research. Before coming out, get a sense of how supportive your workplace is. Consider subtly bringing up LGBTQIA+ topics in conversation to gauge people's reactions.
- Build your support system. Identify close allies and potential advocates within your workplace. These people can offer support and help you navigate the coming out process.
- Make an announcement. Once you've told key individuals, send an email or make an announcement introducing yourself with your new name and pronouns. Keep it simple and positive, and mention that you'll correct people kindly if they slip up.
- Correct mistakes with patience. It takes time for people to adjust to your transition. Be patient but persistent in reinforcing your correct name and pronouns.
- Consider bending to social norms. While you shouldn't have to adhere to cisgender norms, occasionally conforming can make your transition smoother. Choose your battles and focus on long-term goals.
- Lean on your support system. Transitioning while working can be tough. Lean on your allies and manager for support and accommodations as needed.
Remember, you are not alone in this journey. With the right preparation and support, you can come out at work and live as your true, authentic self.