Archive for July, 2011

Three Words To Describe Yourself

My boss reminded me that I should write. And who am I to disobey my boss? Granted, I’m not at work, I can (within reasonable limits) do whatever I please with my time, but my boss has a point. This all unspooled out of a conversation that bears some more thoughts, so here goes.

Lately, I have been looking around within Wells Fargo to see what kind of other opportunities are available for me. This is no secret. I enjoy my job most of the time. But I’m beginning to wonder what my next step is. No one is going to come along and just give me my next job, after all. That’s just not really how that works. So I have been putting feelers out there, throwing my resume out if something looks interesting. It’s all a bit of a craps shoot, of course. And unfortunately, it leads to more questions than answers.

See, this will be the first time that I’ve looked even outside of the place I’ve been in 4 years. Always a new experience. On top of that, on the off chance that I get an interview somewhere, it’ll be the first time I’m interviewing with someone I haven’t known previously in a professional sense in several years. And it’ll be the first time since I transitioned. The further since transition, the more I’ve begun to understand the real challenges of transitioning. I don’t face much outright discrimination these days. Jackassery, sure, one needs look no further than last night to run into a couple guys on the street in Minneapolis catcalling and noting that I walked (not coincidentally) like a woman. And yes, that always bothers me, but I don’t have time to deal with people like that. Just not worth it. When it’s actually people I know stumbling over pronouns or what not, well, that’s an opportunity to educate. But life is full of little moments that I can’t do anything about. Those little moments are subtle gestures of discrimination. And I wonder how that plays out sometimes.

Obviously there’s not enough data out there to judge whether or not I”m going to get paid more based on other peoples’ perceptions. Do the gendered perceptions of me sometimes work to my benefit? Will I not end up getting stung in the workplace on my wages because of the perceptions of those who are in charge of my wages? That’s just one example, of course, but there are dozens. It’s illuminating to sometimes consider the small items like that that you I spend a lot of time thinking about. As people, we tend to dwell on the things we didn’t do, the trips we didn’t make, the things we never saw, instead of flipping it around and thinking about the things we did accomplish because we didn’t take those opportunities. That’s kind of how I view this. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I gained and what I gave up in transitioning, but not so much time thinking about what I still might be accorded subconsciously by a world that still, in many ways, views me as male. While it’s unfortunate and that’s not what I’m going for, sometimes, no amount of accoutrement can make up for those subtle perceptions. So how can I work them to my advantage?

I wonder this because maybe not tomorrow, but someday soon I’m going to be sitting across from a stranger trying to convince him or her why I deserve the job they are offering and why I would be the best damn person for it. And while I’m doing that, I’m also going to be subtly navigating that perception of me. Is that an advantage, or a disadvantage? Like life, it’s all what you make of it. I’m going to have to deal with it though, and it could end poorly. While people are professionally supposed to set aside such biases, what if they don’t? What if I’m the best person for a job but they won’t hire me just because I’m trans? That sucks. Maybe that’s a little blase, but the point remains that there’s not really anything I can do about it. No one said this whole transitioning thing would be fair (and if they did, what the fuck was that about?). Conversely, I could end up sitting across from someone at an interview and not be the perfect candidate, but I could get something simply due to my diversity. Maybe it’s the pessimism in me, but I find that less likely most of the time. Certainly, though, it is possible. Of course, I have to get there first. So instead of dealing with a hypothetical problem for too long, it’s just time to find out. I’m sure it will lead to an endless parade of entertaining stories. But I had bad interviews before I transitioned too, and anyone, everyone has had a few of those clunkers in life. I’d like to hope that it’s never there, but it’s always going to be there. We are all making subtle use of the many signals that we pick up from the people around us; we are all discriminating in ways we do not even realize sometimes. Maybe I gave up any easier set of subtle discriminations by transitioning, but hell, that’s okay with me. And if it makes for a harder phone interview, well, so be it

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