Out at work day 1 – Dec 12 2011

Here is a redacted announcement sent by two company officers that I report to:

==============================

GE Healthcare is committed to diversity in our workforce as well as to creating an inclusive work environment where all employees are valued and respected, and where they have the same opportunities to contribute and succeed. We believe a diverse workforce reflects our company philosophy and the customers that we serve.

It is in this spirit of diversity that we are pleased to announce that Tam will be returning to work on January 3, 2012 with a new gender presentation and pronoun. As part of the gender transition process, Tam will be dressing and otherwise presenting and identifying as a male.  Tam would appreciate everyone’s efforts in ensuring that we refer to him as male. We understand this will be a process, but we appreciate your efforts to this end. Tam is prepared to answer questions about this matter openly, but this should not become the subject of casual discussion, gossip, or humor in the office. We also want to remind you that, like any other health matters, an employee’s health status, including treatments and surgical procedures, are private and confidential information. As such, they are not appropriate topics of conversation in the workplace and should be limited to need-to-know information.

GE Healthcare is deeply committed to supporting Tam at this important time of change, and we trust that all company employees will treat him with sensitivity and respect. GE Healthcare will not tolerate discrimination or mistreatment of any sort; as a reminder our policies regarding employee behavior and or harassment are clearly stated in our Fair Employment Practices Policy and the GE Healthcare Harassment Procedure.

If you have further questions please contact your supervisor or Human Resources. If you are interested in further information regarding transgender employees, feel free to contact our GE Healthcare GLBTA Alliance co-leaders, or our Global Diversity Leader.  Attached is a very helpful presentation called “Transgender 101″ that should answer any questions you might have. It’s a great resource.

Thank you for your understanding and consideration in keeping GE Healthcare an inclusive, productive and safe working environment for all our employees of diverse backgrounds.

==============

Here is a personal letter I sent out to the folks I work with:

==============

Integrity is at the root of our individual and collective success.  It is not always the easiest path; maintaining it takes courage, resolve, and the ability to see the bigger picture.  Integrity also extracts a price.  The world is not fair, competition is intense, and justice is rarely swift.  Losing one’s integrity is devastating; obstacles to complete recovery are often insurmountable.

A key component of personal integrity is authenticity.  At a very early age, I knew I was different; this difference, moreover, was central to who I was and how I related to others.  As a result, I “came out” as a lesbian as a teenager – this identity was the closest match to how I understood my situation.  As a young adult I decided I could not stay in the closet at work.  Trying conceal my personal life from others was both futile and, more importantly, inauthentic.  I openly served as an LGBT diversity representative in the 1980’s and 1990’s in every company I worked at – advocating for equal treatment and garnering the support of straight allies.  Did my career suffer as a result?  Probably (but I’ll never know for sure).  The trade-off – staying silent and pretending to be straight for personal gain – was not an acceptable option for me.

It is in this spirit of integrity and authenticity that I now request your support as I take the next step towards maintaining my personal integrity and authenticity.  It has been a long and painful path to my current level of self-awareness.  What I felt, but could not comprehend, is now better understood and supported by science.  In the simplest of terms, there is a disconnect between the physical gender I was assigned to at birth (female) and how I internally feel and relate to others (male).  The clinical term for this is transsexual.  Recent imaging studies have shown that the brain structures of female-to-male transsexuals are physically different from their non-transsexual female counterparts (see http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20032).

In the near future, I will begin my physical transformation from female to male.  These differences (resulting from hormones and surgery) will gradually become noticeable.  As a result, I need your assistance as follows:

·         Name – the shortened version of current my name is a male name in Scotland (see “Tam O’Shanter” by the great poet Robert Burns).  I will be changing my legal name to the shortened version.

·         Pronouns – please start using masculine pronouns when referring to me.  Don’t worry if you slip back to the feminine form now and then – I won’t get upset.  Practice makes perfect!

·         Questions – if you are curious or concerned about anything related to my transition, just ask me.  I’ll try to answer your questions and address your concerns as best I can.  The attached email also contains information about an excellent course from GE GLBTA titled “Transgender 101”.

I have planned my transition process to minimize its impact on work. I am committed to the success of this company and feel very fortunate to serve in our common mission – making high quality healthcare more affordable and accessible around the world.

2 thoughts on “Out at work day 1 – Dec 12 2011

  1. Hey Tam, I love this letter.
    I’m glad that I had a chance to meet and talk to you at the GLBTA Global Meeting in Sep 2011. I can’t wait to take my next steps of my transition, surgery, but I wish you great success and support in your journey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s