You know, it’s in that place I put that thing that time?
I want to make sure I don’t neglect this blog too much. If I do it’ll just mean more 2-3000 word posts. It’s a blog, Hadley, not a novel. When I looked at the last post I made it was January 8th. Ok, there was also one I made in February, but I ended up password protecting that one. It came out too personal.
That’s too bad, because I’m sure February 16th is a day I won’t want to forget. Things have tended to move a lot faster for me than I thought I’d be comfortable with, but I’m actually ok with that. Actually, the 16th was kind of the end of it. The first stab happened on the 8th. I started going into work as my complete self.
At the beginning of February I talked to my boss (whom I had clued into my situation on December 31st) about feeling stifled and how I wanted to start expanding the world I was living in beyond my apartment walls. Of course there wasn’t going to be any problem, but it was really important to me not to shock anyone. A “what the fuck?!” response is justified in my opinion if you just drop something like this out of nowhere. We worked in a separate part of the building, with a separate entrance, and on some days, I wouldn’t even need to see anyone else in the company face to face. So for a few days, that’s what I did. Coming into work with my scant wardrobe. After all, it was impossible to justify buying any more clothes if I couldn’t wear them outside my apartment.
On February 12th I was going to be making a scheduled visit to one of our remote locations for tech work. I scheduled it around my 6-month followup at the gender clinic because they’re both in the same city. It was important to me to show up at that appointment as myself. I’d always done as much as I could in the past, but I’d been wearing my new outfits for a week or so, I was comfortable enough and getting better all the time. I decided, the hell with it, they’ve got to know sooner or later. I’ll go to my appointment, and straight to work after. No awkward changing in the car (I’m so done with that). So in advance of my visit, I sent them an email explaining the situation. My first email about this to anyone. I had literally only told my boss up to that point.
After that email, the dominos really started to fall. I had a chat with that location’s manager about my visit, which he assured me would be fine (it was). It wasn’t long before I was running into other people in the home office face to face. I was split between saying something and just not drawing attention to it. But my boss did mention that one sales guy had seen me and was unsure what was up, so I decided that even if it wasn’t really necessary to send out a formal email to the company, I owed it to my coworkers to just blanket everyone with the same message.
I sent that email on February 16th with shockingly little consternation or fanfare on my part. I had spent several hours drafting it at home the night before. The subject was “you look different…” Heh, boy do I.
Most people in the company had already seen me, but the email served as a single blanket declaration from me about what was going on. I also very nervously took the plunge and used it as an opportunity to ask to be called “Hadley” and she/her pronouns. After all, no sense in going through all this fuss if I was going to have to send another email about my name later. I was scared about that because I was worried it wouldn’t feel right. I was worried it would be putting others out. I was worried people would hate me for asking that of them. I was worried it would make me feel awkward and I’d never get used to it.
To all those worries I now say: HA! Yes, it was a little awkward at first, but I think it’s just a muscle memory thing. You get so used to being called ____ that you just instinctively respond to it. I can happily report that as of now, I actually feel far more disingenuous and weird being referred to by my old name and “he”.
The response from people was incredibly heartening. Thankfully I work at a place that’s really cool and the people are really cool too. Obviously that doesn’t make everything any less scary, but it does mean that the real risks were probably a lot less.
So where does that put me now. Well unfortunately, about a month after I started going into work as myself. My boss informed me he was going to be leaving the company at the end of May. This was absolutely devastating to hear. He’s been a great friend to me. Not just in my fledgling steps of transitioning at work, but in general. I explained how important it is for me to keep transitioning and I talked with the HR manager about my concerns especially if we bring in someone new.
Even more different still, it’s pretty much a done deal that I’m going to be taking over my boss’s position. So I’ll be the new boss. Everyone else is confident in me, but I’m still very worried. I’ve never done anything like this before (both transitioning and being the boss).
We actually did bring in a new person for a different position in the company. I tend to work closely with that department, so I considered this new person a dry run. It actually went pretty well. As a few others have pointed out, this new person never met the original me. She doesn’t have to fight against a memory of who I was. Fortunately she’s been not only super cool, but when she calls me “Hadley” or “she” it feels so natural. I expect with others it’ll get there as well, but it just takes longer.
Everything else? I’m still getting there. This whole process is incredibly emotionally taxing, and I’m not even playing it on difficult mode. I don’t have many real life friends. I don’t have any relationship (or even prospect of one). I suppose I’m still just chugging along the best I can and hopefully the more time I keep at it the better.
I actually feel kind of bad that I’ve relied so much on reading about other people’s transition experiences. Watched their first hand video accounts, listened to their stories. I feel bad that I’ve not contributed much or even anything for others. Paying it forward so to speak. Until now I’d been way to nervous, especially in any way that put me on the spot personally.
Otherwise, things continue forward despite fears and hesitations. I’m trying to get excited for summer and summer clothes. I’m still working on being happier by myself. I’m still living through life.