Jordyn's Workplace Transition Story
My Name is Jordyn. I worked as a Senior Software Engineer at a huge e-Learning company in the suburbs of Chicago. This the short version of my transition at work.
I actually reached my breaking point at work. You see, they had a Halloween thing going on in 2003. I decided to dress as myself (a woman) - this was before I transitioned. I showed up in full feminine attire. I had such a reaction from my co-workers that people were coming down from different floors to see me. I was very nervous and scared out of my mind. Even the CEO came over to see me. All in all, there was at least a hundred people that came to my cube that day.
Once I was over my nervousness I posed for some pictures, in which, I was told were posted all over the Ireland office for the next couple of days. I personally don't think I am much of a looker and did not expect that kind of reaction. That night, when it came time for me to go back home and get undressed and put on those male clothes I despised all my life, something snapped.
I became very depressed for several months until I snapped and started crying uncontrollably at work. I finally worked up enough courage to tell my bosses about it. Some of them were also my friends. After a couple of weeks discussing this with them and my wife I decided that April 26th, 2004 was going to be my coming out date.
Now, I had done some research ahead of time and was setting up some time for my therapist to come to work and discuss this with my co-workers and management. Well, the scumbag executives there escalated it to corporate and they got their lawyers involved. They refused to have any doctors on their premises. I was told by HR that I had to stand up in front of over 100 people and tell them what I am, why I have to transition and when. I guess they thought that would discourage me from doing it at this company. I was so upset that I went home that night and took a bunch of pills. Thank god it wasn't enough to do any damage. I was terrified. How do I stand up in front of all these people in several different sessions and explain this??? Why were they making me do this instead of having a therapist talk about it?? Can you imagine how it feels to have to stand up in front of over 100 people and tell them you are transsexual? The midwest is not the most favorable place for a transsexual to live in. I could not sleep or eat. I was emotionally and physically exhausted.
I managed to get about 2 hours of sleep over a week.
The time came for the first session which was with the management team. I sat shaking in my boots, waiting for them all to come in. I was in the middle of an anxiety attack. Just as I was about to start talking, my engineering friends came in to the meeting, much to the surprise of management and stood behind me and told the management team that they were behind me 100%. I could not believe it. I was so touched and I will not ever forget them for doing that.
Well, I explained the situation to management and their reaction (on the surface) was that I "Was a top perfomer and one of the best software engineers they had". They seemed to be very supportive (key word 'seemed'). I then had to repeat these sessions with other employees 3 times, each time being terrified and sick to my stomach. Afterwards I had alot of my co-workers come to my cube and tell me that they understood and that I had alot of courage. I didn't see it that way. I saw it as having no choice. I collapsed in my cube after these couple of days were over. This was not done and over with in one day. It was repeated over several days as if they were intentionally trying make me suffer emotionally.
We set the full time date and waited.
I went away the week before going full time with my wife and 2 children to Disney World to mentally prepare for the challenges coming ahead. When I returned to work I came back to decorations all over the office with signs saying "Happy Re-Birthday Jordyn" everywhere - including the ladies room!!!! When I got to my cube there was a huge bouquet of roses, balloons and those little sprinkly decorations all over my desk saying "It's a girl". I sat in my cube and cried. I could not believe it. I found out that most of that was done by my immediate supervisor, Carol. That was the peak and it was all down hill from there. I guess some people didn't like it and all the signs had to come down.
After a couple of weeks I was told that I have to move upstairs. Now the upstairs had no one from engineering located there. I fought this and asked why I had to do this. I was told not rock the boat and to just go up there. I was located in a good size cube up there, but by myself. Here I was the only software engineer up there. Gee, I wondered, why was I the only one....I know, because I was a transsexual. After a couple of weeks alone up there they moved someone from marketing next to me.
Now I had been a very successful engineer for the company for almost 9 years, I have several company innovation awards and have been awarded several employee recognition awards including bonuses. I was also asked to stay through several acquisitions and was paid several 'Stay Bonuses". I was well respected there for my achievements. Until Now.... I remember telling some of my co-workers and my wife that they should watch, I will be out of this company within 6 months. I knew how upper management felt about this situation.
Well, I went full time in April and wow, surprise, here it is October of 2004 and was told that I was being let go.
After I left the building and went home, I was contacted by some of my friends that were still left in management there and told that some of the senior execs had been talking about me in meetings and not it a good way. I was not surprised. I thought about suing them, but in Illinois we had no discrimination laws that protected transsexuals. I wound up having SRS 2 months later. As of today (2/27/2006), I am still out of work and yet the awards that the company got for my software designs are still on their site.