when should I tell a prospective employer that I’m transgender and in the midst of transitioning?

A reader writes:

I’m 19, searching for a part-time entry-level job, and transgender. Do I disclose that I’m transitioning to potential employers?

I’ve been on hormones for almost four months, look quite masculine still, but do have very long, feminine hair and wear androgynous clothes, some light makeup, etc.

What I’m confused about is when to, or if I even should, mention that I’m trans before getting hired. My best current plan is to leave out any mention of it in applications/CVs, and to mention it, if I get that far, at the end of an interview. As I see it, that maintains honesty and professional courtesy, and I won’t get stuck in a workplace that’ll simply dump or hate me later, but I also get to make a good first impression and not worry potential employers by seeming like a “complicated” employee.

I believe that it is important to bring it up, seeing as how it will be affecting my work to some extent — I’ll continue to transition and look more feminine, and I don’t think I will look clearly female for a while yet. I also may make some of the relevant legal changes relatively soon. More than that, I want my next job to be one that I can stay at for a long time; I don’t want to have to hop between jobs. If my employer discriminates against me on the basis of this, there are no laws protecting me against that even if I’m already an employee. By telling employers early, it seems to me like I’m weeding bad fits out as much as they’re weeding out bad candidates.

Having talked to other people, though, I’m overwhelmingly told that it’s too personal and unnecessary to bring up in an interview. Are they right?

Well, first, assuming that you’re in the U.S., you do have protections under federal law. In 2012, the EEOC held that discrimination against transgender people violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In addition, 18 states and D.C. ban discrimination based on gender identity. That doesn’t mean that companies don’t still discriminate, but I did want to let you know that there’s some intended protection in the law.

As for whether and when to mention it: I think you’ve got a bunch of different options here.

First and foremost, you’re not obligated to disclose it at all. It won’t affect your work and it shouldn’t be relevant to them. And it’s possible that you could get a sense of how comfortable a workplace this is likely to be for you by asking about things like non-discrimination policies and how LGBT-friendly the work culture is.

But if you’re more comfortable raising it up-front so that you can gauge whether the employer’s reaction is the reaction of a place you want to work, that’s fine too. If you want to go that route, waiting to raise it until the offer stage makes it harder for an employer to openly discriminate against you, since if they pull the offer, it’s going to be pretty clear why they pulled it. (This is also why people are also usually advised to wait for the offer to stage to raise that they’re pregnant, need a reasonable accommodation for a disability or a religious practice, or so forth.) But on the other hand, that could put you in a position where you could end up working somewhere that turns out to be unwelcoming or even hostile. (But I do think you’ll get some data simply from the way they respond when you bring it up, and could use that to make a decision.)

So the other option is to raise it at the interview stage, just like you might ask about anything else regarding their culture or other things that are important to you to screen for in an employer. (For example: “I want to let you know that I’m transgender and in the process of transitioning. Can you give me a sense of how LGBT-friendly the office culture is?”) This option carries the risk that if they do want to discriminate against you, they could just not offer you the job and you wouldn’t know that this was the reason — but if you’re comfortable deciding that you wouldn’t want to work for a company like that anyway, then this could be the way to go.

I don’t think there’s one right option here; I’d do whichever feels most comfortable to you. And you don’t even need to decide ahead of time; you can see how the interview goes, and decide in the moment if you want to.

By the way, you might also check the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, which scores major businesses on things like non-discrimination protections, inclusive benefits and diversity practices, and respectful gender transition guidelines. Only large companies are listed there, but it could be a good source of information on some of the places you’re applying. Good luck!

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 162 comments… read them below }

  1. Brett*

    Because of the sheer cost of transitioning down the road… make sure to check at the offer stage whether or not the company’s health insurance would cover those costs.
    When I lived in Iowa City, IA, local ordinance required companies to carry health insurance that covered gender reassignment surgery. This actually resulted in some extremely talented transgender people moving to Iowa City who otherwise probably would not have taken jobs there.

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      Yes, I think that’s an important thing to ask about. Even if the OP’s transition is currently being covered by their parent’s insurance/personally held insurance I think it would be worth investigating if the employer has a better plan.

    2. Violetta*

      The Corporate Equality Index apparently lists that information! I saw my employer was rated 100 (includes health ensurance that covers transition) so that’s cool.

    3. NickD*

      That’s really interesting! My partner is from IC and we’re headed there this weekend to see his parents. While we live elsewhere, I really love Iowa City!

    4. Beezus*

      Just wanted to point out that she’s looking for part time work, so she should probably make sure she’s eligible for the company’s plan before asking about plan details. It’s a great question if she’s eligible for coverage, but if it’s only offered to full-timers, it would look like her focus is in the wrong place if she asked for details on what’s covered by the plan.

      1. Danielle*

        That came to my mind too. If OP is looking for part-time work, her biggest concern should be company culture as most employers don’t offer health benefits to their PT employees.

      2. The OP*

        That’s my feeling too. I’m not expecting much, jobs in my country are tight, and part-time student workers like me are thrilled if they manage to get more than minimum wage, or even a proper contract. For now, I think I need to focus on the culture of the workplace.

        Thankfully, also, some surgeries in my country are covered by the government if you’re patient, with some exceptions.

        When I’m starting a career, I’ll look more into insurance policies, but this is just a bit of financial security!

        1. Beezus*

          Oh, look at us, we’re talking about American norms like they’re the norms everywhere, and you’re not even in the US. Sorry about that! :)

        2. Lab Monkey*

          If you’re in Australia, there’s a similar LGBT-friendly business ranking called the AWEI here. Like with the American one, there’s really only big companies, but it’s a good place to start.

    5. SRB*

      Very timely, HHS just (as in this morning) proposed a new rule that would prohibit “categorical exclusions on coverage of all care related to gender transition”, though that may only be for exchange/marketplace plans, not employer plans. The proposed rule is up for comment until Nov 6 on the federal register, so we may be seeing it in practice by next year.

    6. Suz*

      If the insurance plan does cover it, I wonder if it would be considered a preexisting condition, since the OP says she has already started the process of transitioning?

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        There are no preexisting conditions anymore under ACA. You can’t be denied coverage for that.

    7. Anonthis*

      Wow, that is awesome! I have a transgender friend and she went to Thailand to have her surgery. She told me it was something like three times cheaper to do it there than in the US.

  2. Bend & Snap*

    I don’t know that I would disclose it up front. It just doesn’t seem relevant to the job. IMO it would be better timing to speak up once you’re settled in and know your coworkers.

    My company actually funds gender transitions and is very public about that benefit, so people going through them here are really open about it because it’s supported and totally culturally normal. But I still wouldn’t advise bringing it up at the interview stage even here, because it’s a personal decision that won’t impact work performance, and it doesn’t sound like accommodations are needed.

    To be clear: I don’t think you should hide your transition–it just doesn’t give the interviewers any extra insight into your knowledge or skills, and that’s where the focus should be in interviews.

    1. LBK*

      I think it *shouldn’t* be relevant, but it can certainly become relevant to your job satisfaction so I think it would be better to know up front if you’re going to hate working there due to insensitivity towards transgender people. Based on some of the comments people reported hearing at work when Caitlyn Jenner’s transition first became public, I can only imagine how uncomfortable it would’ve been for anyone who wasn’t openly trans* to listen to those conversations and wonder what would be said about them behinds their backs (or even to their faces) if they came out.

      I also think it could be helpful to know if you do have a particularly LGBT-conscious manager or HR staff since they can also help do some of the easing into getting your coworkers used to using a different name or pronoun, if applicable. I believe there have been stories here of managers who did the legwork of announcing to others that Jane is now going by Jim, and having that kind of edict come from above can weed out some of the resistance and potential nastiness that may occur if you try to do it yourself.

      There is also the approach recommended for “coming out” as gay at work, which is basically to casually work it into conversations without making it a big deal. That’s what I’ve done (mentioning my boyfriend, a particularly gay-friendly vacation I went on, etc.) and I’ve had great success with it, but I don’t know if that transfers as well to being trans* except maybe gentle corrections of pronouns/names as you hear them.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        These are good points. I think I’m spoiled by living in a very liberal area of the country and working for an employer that’s very focused on equality and a positive environment for everyone.

        I wish there were more places like this.

        1. LBK*

          I totally have too – I live in Massachusetts and in my current department the men are split 50/50 gay/straight, plus we have a really good LGBT employee group and the CEO even sent out a company-wide email about all our Pride-related events back in June. At two previous companies I’m pretty sure the gay people outnumbered the straight ones (good luck finding a straight male Starbucks barista). This is why I try to read as many online stories as I can find from people who aren’t as fortunate in order to keep my pulse on what’s actually happening to others around the country and the world.

          1. Bend & Snap*

            Ha, we’re neighbors! I’m in Boston Metro West.

            But I’m from Texas with friends and family still there, so my exposure is really one extreme or the other.

            1. MegEB*

              Another Boston resident here! I live in Boston proper (about a 10 minute walk from Fenway Park). I never realized how lucky I was to live in such a liberal area until I started dating a guy from another area of the country and realized how different our upbringing was.

          1. asteramella*

            If you mean because of the proposed rule, probably not. It was only announced today.

            However, the EEOC has been (successfully) suing a number of employers for discriminating against trans people, reasoning that discriminating against someone for being trans is a form of sex discrimination. If your employer is smart, they’ll work trans-friendliness into the training.

      2. KT*

        This is very true. My husband’s company for instance, is very LGBT friendly in their policies, health coverage, but the employees are mainly extremely conservative and orthodox religious, so the Caitlyn Jenner news was a menace in the breakrooms. My husband had to just avoid coworkers because of all the vile things they would say

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      It’s not relevant to whether the OP would be good for the job, but it is relevant to whether the job would be good for the OP. It’s a cultural fit issue, like how a parent with small kids would want to find out what the culture was around work-life balance. With the difference that IMO it can be valid for a company to decide to be an intense place to work as long as they’re up-front about it, while it’s immoral for a company to decide to be a discriminatory or non-inclusive environment… but since the OP is job-hunting in the world of what is rather than what should be, she needs to make sure she’s not getting into a workplace that will make her miserable.

    3. Lizzie*

      It’s worth disclosing if their legal documents still list them as the gender with which they do not identify. That way nobody’s using the wrong pronouns — or the wrong name, if they’re in the process of a legal name change along with their transition.

      1. Ad Astra*

        That’s what I was thinking. If your employment paperwork says Percival Jones and you prefer to be called Lucinda, disclosing the fact that you’re trans becomes kind of necessary.

        It’s hard to say without seeing or knowing the OP, but it sounds as if she’s early enough in her transition that the hiring manager or coworkers would suspect (for lack of a better word) that she’s transitioning just based on her appearance.

        OP, I’m glad you wrote in because I’d been privately wondering how trans people handle their transition while working typical office/service/retail jobs (rather than, say, being a former Olympian who now appears on a reality show). I hope you get some helpful information.

      2. Lab Monkey*

        This is why I’m planning on being up front during interviews this time around. My last job wasn’t trans-UNfriendly, but it’s harder than it needs to be to get coworkers to change pronouns after the fact when I could have been clearer about what I wanted from the start. If you don’t have your docs in a row, OP, it’d be worth mentioning briefly at interview/offer–before you start, for sure.

  3. KT*

    Just sending lots of support your way.

    I had a coworker who transitioned. She never brought it up–she just did awesome work and went about her business. When she completed her transition and changed her name, etc, it was very matter of fact and straightforward. There is no “right” way to do it, it’s a very personal journey and really up to you. Alison raises some very good points, but I also want to reiterate checking in to health insurance coverage for what you’ll be facing as well as leave policies. For my coworker, after her final surgery, the company granted her 6 weeks leave-partially paid–so that’s a huge help to.

  4. The Cosmic Avenger*

    First of all, I want to wish the OP the best of luck, both personally and professionally.

    I think that you have the right idea to find an actively supportive environment….as long as you’re not financially desperate for a job. If a job environment seems passively supportive (meaning the employees you talk to are fine but they have no written LGBTQ-friendly policies in place), you might find a new coworker or manager could show up after you’re hired and make things more difficult than they should be. A company that has excellent workplace conduct policies and supports all of their employees will prevent or head off any harassment or workplace hostility, whatever the cause.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      Very good suggestion, Cosmic Avenger.

      I suspect that an interviewer may pick up on the transition changes you’ve already made, OP. I wish you luck and a smooth transition!

    1. Prismatic Professional*

      Thank you for the link to Dr. Jillian Weiss’ blog! I’m always on the lookout for more resources!

  5. Nefarious Hibachi (formerly Kay)*

    I agree with AAM that there is no “right” way to go about this. I have a friend who did not tell her company, and felt that she had to keep dressing in “male” clothes just in case they noticed. She only just legally changed her name, and then went to HR with it. I think her opinion was that she wished she had mentioned it earlier in the process, but her hands were a little tied because she needed the job and didn’t want to give them any excuses. I have another friend who simply applied as who she is and didn’t bother mentioning it, figuring it’s none of the company’s business. She seems pretty happy with her decision.

    On a personal note, I know its really easy to judge yourself harshly about not looking how you want to look but most of my TG friends “passed” way before they believed they “passed”. Good luck!

    (Does anyone else get squidgy about saying “ooh I have [insert any minority] friends, let me talk about that”?

    1. BrownEyedGirl*

      Yes!! Totally squidgy, but at the same time that’s the relevant experience you have that allows you to relate to the situation. Sometimes it’s a hard line to walk. I think the key is to remember that while you have friends who might experience something you only know what they tell you–not what they actually feel–and their experiences may not translate for everyone. And then you hope for the best.

    2. abankyteller*

      I get squigy about that!

      I so strongly agree with your second point. OP likely “passes” and could just apply as the woman she is.

    3. That Lady*

      There’s definitely a difference between saying “ooh I have [minority] friends, and this is a story about their experience that is relevant to this conversation and may be helpful to your situation” vs “ooh I have [minority] friends and that makes me SOOO awesome”. I think your comment is the former situation.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes, exactly. “Here is the experience of some people I know who are X” is way, way different than “I am totally the expert about X because I have friends who are X.”

        Best of luck to you, OP. I suspect carefully researching the company ahead of time will give you a sense of where they are on these things.

      2. some1*

        “ooh I have [minority] friends and that makes me SOOO awesome”.

        I usually feel like the person is saying it to excuse a stereotypical comment, as in “My trans friend liked my Caitlyn Jenner meme on Facebook, therefore it’s not offensive.”

    4. Allison*

      I get a little squidgy abut it too, but as long as you’re merely echoing their sentiments about an issue, and not using their experience or their beliefs to talk over or invalidate the experiences or beliefs of other members of that group (“my black friend doesn’t think that’s racist, therefore no one’s allowed to think it’s racist” or “my friend had this thing happen to them and got over it, so if it happens to you you should just get over it too”). There’s participating in the discussion, and then there’s dominating the discussion and making it all about you, and as far as I can tell you’re doing the former.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, I feel weird about bringing it up, because my friends are just my friends. But if a mention of their status is only to relate an experience they went through and how they handled it (and if I think it contributes something to the conversation), that’s different than just saying, “I have [whatever] friends; let me gossip about them to show you how cool/non-prejudiced/attention-seeking I am.” I’ve had to use examples before to shut down haters but I don’t use any names in that case.

    6. The Fangirl formerly known as Squidgie*

      As unseemly as it is to correct usage, I feel compelled to mention that you probably mean “squeamish” or “squicked” rather than “squidgy,” which describes something soft and moist. I have seen it used as a slang equivalent to “boner,” (for a female,obviously) so unless you mean you are turned on by mentioning your TG friend… I only bring this up because I’d hate to see such a fun word become associated with ill-feeling.
      More to the point, I thought your example was a completely appropriate mention of what you know from your direct experience. No reason to feel anything beginning with sq about it.

      1. TychaBrahe*

        I don’t think the previous poster meant either squeamish or squicked. I think she meant something along the lines of “Squee! I have something useful to contribute.”

      2. Nefarious Hibachi (formerly Kay)*

        Lol, honestly I thought I made up a word to describe how I was feeling. Kinda the equivalent of squirming in my seat. Squicked and squeamish sound more like disgust to me, but I would like to get away from the boner comparison…^_^

    7. The OP*

      I’m really happy I asked the question here, I’m receiving advice and ideas that I agree with much more than anywhere or anyone else I asked.

      Applying as I am makes sense, and I think it’s what I’ll try to do. I have to figure out details, and get applying (I’ve been lax because I was so unsure how to approach this), but if I do get called to interview I’ll go in female attire and trying to be very open with what I am, I suppose. It seems like the most straightforward way!

      Thank you for the support, but what’s really holding me back is my voice right now. Otherwise I’d be very comfortable with how to address this whole thing!

      Don’t worry about mentioning your friends, you’re not doing it to be fashionable, you’re sharing relevant experiences and information :)

    8. Ad Astra*

      I think you do a nice job of reporting what your friends have told you in a way that makes it clear you’re simply passing on information about their specific experience, rather than speaking for them or for trans people in general.

    9. Mel in HR*

      I kind of get squidgy, but then I realize I am more excited that I have a relevant/possibly helpful experience to draw from that I can share. In the case of my transgender friends, I have no problems talking about it because they went through various struggles themselves and I know they would want to make transitions easier for others.

    10. Frances*

      That is a good point. It’s also important to note, however, that trans people have no obligation to pass/try to pass. Many do because it is important to them, but you don’t have to in order to deserve that people address you as the right gender/treat you like a decent human.

      1. Nefarious Hibachi*

        I completely agree, but I also know that it can be important to some people. Whatever floats people’s boats!

  6. The IT Manager*

    I suspect the LW is not in the US because of the mention of a CV rather than resume for a 19 year-old.

    I have to make some assumptions in the based on limited info. I hope I don’t offend if I screw this up. The LW sounds like a trans-woman who prefers an androgynous look; however, if you actually prefer a more feminine look I encourage you to go for it dresses, heels, and all. I suppose your official documentation still show you as male, but I think you should present yourself as your normal self in the interview (except as we all have to do wearing appropriate interview clothes which is usually dressier than normal for your gender). I would add that this should include mentioning your preferred name/nickname in your CV and when you’re introduced.

    I also think if your look and style don’t make everything clear, it may be best to be upfront using Alison’s words in the interview. I think that it might be worse to be ambiguous and a topic of discussion be whether you’re male or female than for you to explain that you’re in the early stages of transition.

    It is, however, possible that I am being too optimistic about the goodness of people and level of acceptance you’ll find. Given your goal of finding a job you can remain at, though, I think being open about it is the best way to go. Best of luck.

    1. LBK*

      I waffle about this – on some level, I think presenting androgynously might actually be better because if the OP “looks transgender” (and I feel like that sounds terrible to say, but hopefully its intended meaning is clear) it may be easier to get a read on how the manager reacts. If the manager appears visibly taken aback/uncomfortable just from the OP’s appearance, that could be a red flag that would shortcut having to ask probing questions – or at least may ease the questions because the OP could say something like “As you may have guessed, I’m transgender/in the process of transitioning…” and then go from there with asking about what the culture and benefits are like surrounding that.

      I suppose it all comes down to the same dichotomy Alison presented, which is if it’s better to know up front and self-select out or get the job and then find out after. If she presents as fully female as she can muster, “passes” (another term I hate saying, ugh) and then the office finds out later, I worry that she may be exposed to insensitive comments from people who don’t realize who they’re around or that the reaction may be more harsh because people felt like they were “lied to” (which is of course ridiculous, but trans* panic is still pretty severe from what I see and hear).

      1. Anonymoustache*

        Transgender individuals look like every other individual on the planet. Instead of “looks transgender,” try “doesn’t pass” or “doesn’t read/code as the gender they identify with.”

        1. LBK*

          Is “passing” considered an accepted term? I feel like I’ve heard otherwise but perhaps I’m mistaken.

          1. Withans*

            As far as I’m aware, it isn’t – partly because of historic associations with segregation laws and such, and partly because it implies that trans people are somehow tricking people into seeing them as whatever gender. Personally, I tend to use ‘people tend to read me as’ – as in, I’m non-binary, but people tend to read me as female. It puts the onus on the observer to acknowledge that it’s their assumptions about gender that are leading them to whatever label they’ve put on me.

          2. asteramella*

            Some people hate it, some people prefer it. Much like any other group of similarly situated people, trans people aren’t a monolith and have diverse opinions about trans issues. :)

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Whether it’s in the interview or later, I do think there needs to be some clarification of gender identity, to avoid a bunch of stumbles over “him” vs. “her”, which I think would make the work environment more uncomfortable than clearly stating your preferences.

      My son is in high school, and told me about this other student in a class who it sounds like their appearance is similar to the OP’s. The student’s name is Danny, but it wasn’t clear if it was Dani or Danny. My son referred to the student as she, and the student corrected him, saying, “I’m a guy,” which resulted in my son feeling embarrassed. I don’t think it’s not the OP’s job to make people comfortable, but I think it is worth doing if she hasn’t reached the point of frustration with it yet. (I do think gender identity can be fairly clearly communicated if a new female name used by the OP, but if your using something like Dani, you may have to spell out things more than you want to.)

    3. ella*

      Since resumes/job applications seem to typically want legal names but are open to nicknames/alternate names, I was thinking she could put “J.R. (“Sally”) Jones” in her header. If her name is one that people will associate with women, that sets people up right out the gate to call her by the right name/pronouns (as opposed to “John Ronald (“Sally”) Jones, or John Ronald, or even just J.R. Jones, which will leave people guessing and/or give them the opportunity to dismiss her based on her name/trans status alone).

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      The mention of a CV could also mean that she’s applying for jobs in academia, like a lab assistant. Or that, like me at 19, she’s not clear on the difference between a CV and a resume. :-)

      I would go farther than “mentioning your preferred name/nickname in your CV and when you’re introduced” – I think her CV should have her preferred name on it, and she should introduce herself with it, and only mention her legal name (if it’s different) when it’s needed for background checks or other official paperwork. I’d say the same for anyone who goes by a name that’s not their full legal name, for whatever reason.

      Alison wrote about this a while back: https://www.askamanager.org/2010/04/just-tell-me-your-real-name.html – “It’s disconcerting to go through the whole interview process with Katherine and hire her, only to discover on her second day of work that she’s Katie. Or weirder, to discover that the William who I spent several weeks talking with, and who I now know as William, actually goes by his middle name, Peter.”

      1. The OP*

        Um.. maybe you’re right that I wasn’t completely aware of the difference between a resume and a CV :P Any employer I’ve ever seen has asked for a CV and a cover letter, so maybe it’s a regional or cultural difference?

        I think I’d like to leave my preferred name on the CV/resume only, but I wonder if it’s a murkier situation than most nicknames- it’s an obviously female name, and I still am gendered male by others at least due to my voice, if not other factors too.

        1. Honeybee*

          I think it’s a regional/cultural thing. In the U.S., a CV is a longer document that’s primarily used by academics and includes a lot more jobs and a lot more detailed information about jobs. I was an academic and before I left the field, my CV was 5-6 pages and I was quite junior. It’s not uncommon for senior people to have CVs of 10+ pages.

          But in the UK (and perhaps other places), it appears that the term “CV” is used for what we call a “resume”, which is the standard 1-2 page job history that only includes relevant jobs and has a shorter list of accomplishments.

      2. Sweaty*

        lol, this actually happened with one of my close coworkers. His name is (let’s say) Paul Lastname, but his legal name is John Ronald Lastname. Totally different name. Obviously a different situation though as he’s not changing his name for gender reasons. Most everyone addresses him as Paul, although there have been a few awkward situations where people called him by the wrong name. His company email address is john.r.lastname@company which has lead to people addressing him by the wrong name via email. This is all to say it’s important to get your company communications, accounts, etc set up with your preferred name.

    5. The OP*

      What does LW stand for?

      I’m not in the US, I’m in Ireland. A couple of people have mentioned the CV-resume discrepancy. I just call it a CV because that’s the only thing employers want here, I’ve never been asked for a resume. If I’m honest, I didn’t know there was a great difference between the two!

      I’m really, really not sure I have the confidence to go with a really feminine outfit, not yet. Even if it would erase all uncertainty, I think it would take away from my confidence, which seems just as important to maintain?

      1. Blossom*

        A CV in the UK and Ireland is the same as a resume in the US. So don’t worry, we’re all talking about the same thing!

        (To make things slightly confusing, Americans also use the term CV but they use it to mean a much longer, more formal document used in academia, not most jobs).

      2. Mel in HR*

        Others have commented on the CV/Resume thing, so I won’t restate that. I just wanted to say that confidence is definitely important. If you are not comfortable dressing really feminine, there is nothing wrong with that. I personally prefer more androgynous clothing as well, as long as it is professional. Dress in an appropriate way that will make you feel the most confident. That will shine through in the interview!

        1. Sweaty*

          Yes there are lots of cisgender women who don’t dress especially feminine so from that should be fine for the OP as well. I agree, confidence is important to maintain, especially in a job interview!!

          1. Sweaty*

            If she doesn’t want to wear a skirt or heels, slacks/blazer (or suit), blouse, and nice flats should be fine…that’s what I wear and it hasn’t been a problem

  7. just a person*

    Love how positive the comments are here, but also want to throw out there that transitioning does not necessarily mean surgery. Lots of ways to transition.

    My inclination would be to bring it up in the “any last questions?” stage of the initial interview, first in a broad way, like “diversity in the workplace is really important to me — can you tell me how that’s addressed here? how LGBTQ-friendly would you say this organization is?” and then you can choose to disclose further based on that answer.

    good luck, friend!

    1. KT*

      ABSOLUTELY. Transitioning can mean many things. Surgery isn’t an option for many due to a lot of reasons (cost, medical complications etc), but also can be because the individual doesn’t see a need for it–they are who they are.

  8. badger_doc*

    One thing my hair stylist did that I thought was smart was quit her last job as a man and get hired at her current job as a woman. I am not sure if she had any transition surgeries between the two other than breast augmentation, but that could be one way of going about it. That way she had all her documentation (name change) and some feminization surgeries completed by the time she was ready to apply for another job, so I don’t think her new job even knows that she is transgender. Something to think about if you can swing the timing just right and don’t feel comfortable bringing it up. Although, I wish we lived in a world where people could be who they are without a second glance. Good luck!

    1. JMegan*

      This is a great idea, if OP can make it work. The timing might be tricky (or impossible!), but it’s worth considering the idea that maybe this first part-time entry level job could be for a shorter duration while she is transitioning, then once she’s fully “herself” she could then start to look for a longer-term position.

      Good luck, OP!

      1. Batshua*

        That’s definitely the old-school way of doing it, although people also used to like, move to a new town, start a new life, etc.

        In the right environment (i.e. a supportive one), it might make more sense to transition in-job, especially if the coworkers already know that OP is transitioning. It’s significantly less life stress having to transition if your job and coworkers stay the same, as long as they’re supportive.

    2. TychaBrahe*

      I can’t imagine how that works. How do you apply for work as Janet and say, “Oh, by the way, my references all knew me as Jim”?

      Trying to imagine how I’d feel about it, I think I’d prefer to transition in a supportive work environment. However, I’m cis, so my hypothetical conceptualization of the situation is pretty much worth squat.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I guess you have to prep the references in advance, if you don’t want to be out at the new workplace, and hope that they remember.

        We hired an out trans woman a while ago who just let us know “managers from before [date] knew me as [male name], just in case there’s any confusion”. She also had two different first initials in her publication list, bolded her name in each list of authors, and had “publications from before [date] were under my previous name” at the top (I do the same thing, but for my surname).

      2. Businesslady*

        honestly, I think the “my references knew me as X” is the most straightforward–or “I went by Y when I worked there” or some similar formulation. that would be easy to include along the same lines as “Lucinda was my manager when she was the Marketing Director at Awesome Teapots, Inc., but she’s now Chief Communications Officer at Teapotopia” or whatever.

        & again, while it’s absolutely not okay to discriminate based on info like “I, Jane, used to be Jim,” anyone who’s weirded out by that probably isn’t a manager that a trans* person would want to work for.

      3. The OP*

        Unfortunately, I’m going to be dealing with that sort of situation anyway. I’ve already had a job where I worked for about four years, who still don’t know I’m transitioning. I’ll be dealing with them in time too.

    3. The OP*

      If I had a “passable” voice I could possibly pull this off now. As things are, I don’t think it’s possible, unfortunately. I’ll think on the idea though, perhaps I can figure something out that at least plays off that idea.

      1. Lunchy*

        At an old job, a female manager had a very masculine voice – I remember being taken aback when I first spoke to her. However, I quickly got used to her voice just as I would anyone else’s, as did all of my coworkers and customers (and a quick “Of course she’s a woman,” to any skeptical persons usually silenced them). You don’t have to let your voice stand in the way of presenting yourself as the beautiful woman you are!

  9. Anoners*

    Canadian perspective: I would try not mention it during the interview stage (if you’re in Canada). The human rights code says employers can’t discriminate on all kinds of protected bases (gender identity being one) and unsuccessful candidates can (and have) come back with lawsuits stating that they weren’t hired by an organization because they belong to said protected group (maybe rightfully so, but because of this trend most interviewers do not want to know your religion, orientation, disabilities, identity, etc. at this stage of the game). Basically a good interviewer will stay clear of uncovering any kind of information that would lead them to knowing a candidate belongs to a protected group because it becomes a liability. Of course that’s not necessarily true for all interviewers in Canada, but it’s a thing (there’s lots of lit out there on it).

  10. TCO*

    OP, I agree with others here that you should present yourself fully as the woman you are, using your female name (if you’ve changed it, though it sounds like you haven’t done that legally yet). HR, if and when you get hired, should be the only people who care about your legal name. At that time you can let them know, “My legal name is Joseph but I go by Jessica. I haven’t made the change legal yet, but I plan to do that soon. In the meantime, I need my e-mail address, company directory listing, business cards, etc. to list my name as Jessica.”

    Hopefully you’ll have been able to get a feel for how LGBT-friendly your office is (and I know that being trans* friendly is different, and often harder to find, than being gay/lesbian/bi friendly). If you’ve found a good place, HR shouldn’t bat en eye at your request, or if they do give you a hard time, you’ll be able to advocate to that person’s boss and they’ll get it right.

    Good luck!

      1. A Bug!*

        And please remember that it’s a completely common occurrence for people to go by names other than their legal names for all sorts of reasons. It’s perfectly reasonable to present the request as a non-issue when it comes time to bring it up.

    1. Dana*

      Agree fully on addressing the naming conventions right off the bat (once hired). It might be easy for a manager to say one day “Joseph is now known as Jessica” but if all the emails are joseph @ workplace . com I would think that’d be harder.

      1. Sweaty*

        Right. I think if the employee isn’t transitioning (or out, even to themself) at the time they are hired, it can be tougher. But OP is already transitioning, so it makes sense in her case to ensure her emails, workplace ID, business cards, etc are already using her correct (preferred) name.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      This is a great way to phrase the name stuff. It’s as matter-of-fact as any other name issue, like my coworker who has used his middle name personally and professionally since he was a child. (He was named after his father, but then the family decided that having two people with the same name in the house was confusing, so they started calling him by his middle name while he was still a baby.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        An ex had the same issue, but in his family, they all used nicknames for everybody.

        I like TCO’s suggestion because it makes the bosses aware of the upcoming change. :)

  11. Case of the Mondays*

    One potential awkwardness that could arise at the interview is if the interviewer isn’t sure how to address you. I’m an attorney and I had to interview a witness once who was transitioning male to female. At this stage, the witness was wearing dress pants and dress shirts that could be considered male or female attire but had long hair and makeup. I was quite concerned about addressing this witness appropriately so I just asked “which gender pronoun do you prefer I use when referring to you in court?” I think if you arrive at the interview and it is unclear if you are identifying as male or female, the interviewer may be nervous and distracted in how to address you, particularly if you have a gender neutral name. You may want to address it early on by saying “Hi, I’m Jordan. I identify as female/male in case you were worried what to call me. How are you today?”

    1. AMT*

      FTM here. This is one of those instances in which having a clearly gendered name and interview outfit would help things along. This pains me to say, since lots of trans people prefer a more androgynous look/name/whatever and should absolutely NOT be penalized for that, but it’s a reality of the job market. I don’t know how my ambiguously-named friends (Harper! Jesse! Alex! Skyler!) deal with it.

    2. The OP*

      That’s very true, and I’m honestly not certain yet how I’ll address this. I don’t feel comfortable with it currently, but there’s always the option to go outside my comfort zone and wear something like a blouse, skirt and tights. I’m going to have to think pretty carefully on this- maybe it’s worth putting aside all doubt, maybe I’d be more comfortable with just discussing the matter.

      As an aside, your comment made me realise I have no shoes whatsoever that would be appropriate for a job interview. Something else to spend money on! :P

      1. Lionness*

        OP, you will interview best if you feel comfortable and confident. Wear whatever will make you feel that way. If you have an obviously gendered name that you prefer, that should give your interviewer all the information they need when using pronouns.

        Good luck in your job search!

      2. Lab Monkey*

        Hey OP, I’m trans, too–agender, for me, which presents some difficulty as there isn’t an obvious gender neutral clothing choice for these sorts of situations (and a lot of people don’t think to use my pronouns on the first go). It can be uncomfortable the first couple of times you do it, but it’s not so bad to make a little joke when you meet your interviewer about being mistaken for male sometimes and clarify that you’re a woman. I find the key is to treat it as obvious and silly, like of course your interviewer would NEVER make such a ridic mistake, hahaha. A trans-aware person will catch on to what you’re implying, and a polite but ignorant person will usually go along with it because you brought it up in a friendly, non-judgemental way. You’re not asking anyone to change who they are, just to use the right words around and about you. It’s not unreasonable. Wear what makes you feel confident. Cis women get to. So do you. Best of luck to you.

  12. Sunshine Brite*

    I identify as cisgender, but if I were in the interviewing stage I don’t think I would address it except to provide a preferred name and if the interviewer uses other pronouns giving my preferred ones. Then towards the end of the interview I’d ask more questions about diversity and what’s important to you in cultural fit. I think more specific questions about the insurance and that can wait for the offer stage.

  13. Tammy*

    One additional wrinkle: If you’ve already changed any of your legal documents and your prospective employer does a background check that includes a credit report, it will very probably show your old name. (I ran into this with my current position, because my company does credit card stuff and hence had to do a background check.) In this case, it’s probably better for you that their first knowledge of your former name come from you and not the background investigation, lest they wonder “what else you’re hiding”.

    Personally, having done both the “tell them up front” and “don’t tell until you’re hired, if at all” routes, I’d rather be up front about who I am. If a company doesn’t want to hire me because I’m transgender, I’d rather know that at the outset, because it’s not a place I want to work.

    1. TCO*

      Good point about the background check. Anyone involved in that (whether calling references, running the criminal check, etc.) should be aware that OP might have a different legal name and/or might be known by a different name at a previous employer. While OP should have notice before these things are officially done (because they’ll need to ask her for references, etc.) she might want to be mindful of any informal asking around the hiring manager might do if OP has any history/reputation in her field. In this case, OP, you might either want to disclose a name change early in the process and/or let your former employers know that you’re going by a different name now (if you are).

      You don’t want a former boss to say, “Jessica Smith? I’ve never had an employee by that name,” and have the hiring manager assume you lied about working there.

    2. DCW*

      The approach I took to that after transition was to tell after I was extended an offer and just ahead of the background check. The last time I did so it had the bonus of that even though the gender marker on my ID was not yet updated (due to legal restrictions in my locale – required surgery for which I did not even yet meet the qualifications to have) my new employer health insurance had me as my real gender.

      The best way I can describe my approach is, “I discuss it when it’s germane.”

    3. Today's anon*

      Usually in background checks there is a place for “other names” you might be known as and that’s where I’ve put my former name. I’ve done it in places where I have not told anyone of my transition (I transitioned years ago) and it has never been raised as an issue.

  14. Naomi*

    The legal changes are something that jumped out at me as important to bring up. If OP is planning to get a legal name change, for example, that’s something their employer will need to know if only for administrative reasons. But regardless of the legal issues, if OP is looking for a job for the long term, it’s better to be upfront about the transition and hold out for a tolerant workplace rather than keep quiet and risk being stuck somewhere that won’t be as accepting.

  15. Keep Summer Safe*

    I think that I would recommend bringing it up early. They’re either going to be okay with it or not, and you may as well waste as little time as is possible on a company that’s not going to treat you well.

    Have taken any steps yet to legally change your name and gender? I’m just thinking there’s probably tons of fun paperwork involved there. I can imagine a company being okay with you as transgendered – but not so happy about you transitioning while under their employ. *shrug* I don’t know – but it might be another reason to get it out on the table early.

    One last thing: it seems dumb, but one of the sticky points with this is: which bathroom will you use? If they have at least one “unisex” restroom, you may be asked to always use that one. If all they have are multi-user Men’s and Women’s facilities … I don’t know. Alison mentions some 2012 legislation which I’ve not yet seen – I do not know what it might say on restroom issues.

    I wish you the best with this.

    1. AMT*

      Re: the bathroom thing, many states have laws against barring trans people from using the bathroom of their choice. From Lambda Legal:

      “Currently, 18 states (CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IL, IO, ME, MA, MD, MN, NJ, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, WA) and the District of Columbia have employment laws that explicitly protect employees on the basis of gender identity. Moreover, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) forbids employers from placing “unreasonable” restrictions on restroom access.”

      The federal government has also urged employers to adopt trans-friendly bathroom policies: http://www.dol.gov/asp/policy-development/TransgenderBathroomAccessBestPractices.pdf

      If OP is hired and finds that her employer wants to make her use a unisex bathroom or the men’s room, she should definitely challenge this. That would certainly not be a trans-friendly workplace!

    2. The OP*

      I haven’t done anything legally yet, for a range of murky and frustrating reasons. I’m hoping to do that within the next few months, but it really depends on a range of things outside of my control.

      As for bathroom usage, I really don’t know. I’d honestly be fine with a gender-neutral bathroom, or a disabled bathroom. I understand completely that I’m at an awkward point in transition and just want to have reasonable working conditions without conflict. I don’t know what I’d do if they only had multi-user bathrooms, and I’d probably just default to whatever the manager/company felt.

    1. _ism_*

      My manager lied about the company culture when I asked in our interview. I think she was only speaking for herself and unaware of the greater whole culture where I work – which is nothing but hate speech and ignorance and bigotry ALL DAY.

  16. Grand Bargain*

    What a nice answer, Alison, to this OP’s quandry. You’re sensitive, thoughtful, complete, and totally non-judgmental… all the very best of AAM.

      1. The OP*

        I’m thrilled with the comments here. All of them have been incredible, supportive, and really well thought-out and reasoned. I’m still worried about how I’ll proceed, but it feels like I’ve been given so much good advice!

    1. The OP*

      I’m honestly so pleased and feel so well-advised and supported. Usually the comment sections on anything relating to trans issues are an absolute mess. This has been helpful, kind and just wonderful all-round!

      1. Anon for this*

        Tell me about it. I made a supportive comment about the trans issues going on in nearby Hillsboro and had a friend later send me a message that he was “praying” for me. There’s more background but the gist of it is his comments were demonstrating the exact qualities I had been speaking out against and it went completely over his head as he condescended toward me in not so many words. It’s bad enough to have a friend look down on you just for supporting basic civil rights for others–the vitriole that comes out aimed at actual transgender people is just horrifying. I’ve had FB friends post that people who disagree with them on discriminating in a hateful manner should just de friend them. On the one hand it deey saddens me that people demand others respect their religious beliefs without reciprocating. On the other hand, problem of having hatred spew on my FB feed solved!

  17. insert pun here*

    I think, if you are not in a need-a-job-any-job situation, it’s a good idea to bring it up casually but firmly, probably at the end of the interview, in the “any questions?” stage. I’d recommend doing this in person, so you can see how the interviewer reacts.

    If you’re interviewing with smaller companies, they may not have ever had a trans employee before (that they know of), so there might be some hemming and hawing or “I’ll have to get back to you on that.” In that case, I think it’s important to really assess the person’s attitude and general temperament — does their body language change when you mention it? The tone of their voice? Are they still able to look you in the eye? etc.

    (I recently moved from a very gay friendly large company to one where I’m pretty sure I am the ONLY gay person on our pretty small staff. It was a tough call, but ultimately my spidey sense was that these are good people, so this shouldn’t be a problem. That being said, more people are aware of “gay stuff” than “trans stuff” these days, so your calculus might be a little different.)

    Good luck!

  18. Nobody Here By That Name*

    This is when I wish there was a way to proactively let people know that you’re okay with things that (IMO shouldn’t) carry a stigma. Obviously that’s harder when you’re dealing with a candidate, but even with my direct reports I debate how I can make it clear to them that they can talk to me about things like being transgender, or dealing with a mental illness* and not worry about me being okay with it.

    For the most part I’ve landed on simply demonstrating through all of my interactions with them that they can feel safe coming to me with whatever they’re concerned about, but that feels inadequate.

    * NOTE: Not saying transgender = mental illness in ANY WAY. Just that they are both examples of things that people worry about being stigmatized for in the workplace.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      The admissions director at my school has a sign on her office door that says “This is a safe and inclusive space” and lists a bunch of ways in which people can be different, stating that all of them are welcome. It sends a message right away to parents who are thinking of sending their kids to our school about what our school values are. And because it’s obviously on the door all the time, families don’t assume “oh, she’s just saying this to me because she assumes I’m [whatever minority group]” – it’s clear that everyone is seeing that message.

      This may or may not fly in all workplaces, but I love that it works in mine.

      1. Nobody Here By That Name*

        That’s a clever idea. Especially because the nature of what gets included in the list can, in and of itself, indicate the culture. For example the difference between “we welcome anyone regardless of gender” vs “we welcome anyone regardless of gender, gender identity, or expression.” The former doesn’t necessarily exclude the latter, but the latter makes it clearer that this is a place that is more likely to understand things like the needs of someone who is transgender.

        Maybe I can find something like that to use as my own decoration.

    2. Keep Summer Safe*

      > Not saying transgender = mental illness

      Although the DSM V lists Gender Dysphoria as a malady. Although to their credit, the DSM has been slowly backing down on theses kinds of issues. Currently it’s only defined as a problem if the patient is extremely unhappy about their gender mismatch. I believe they danced a similar dance with homosexuality in the past, to the point where now it’s only a disorder if you’re gay and really, really unhappy about it.

      1. DCW*

        There’s also a lot of rather political and ugly history about how all of that transpired; a lot of active efforts by people uncomfortable with either/both to, basically, say, “I don’t like it, I think it’s weird, and, therefore, it must be pathologized.”

      2. Sunshine Brite*

        Some of the main reasons gender dysphoria remained in the DSM V was insurance purposes. People used to have difficulty getting transition surgeries covered if that wasn’t a billable diagnosis listed.

        1. Lionness*

          I don’t think they meant that being gay is a disorder, but rather the state of being deeply dissatisfied with one’s sexual orientation is classified as a disorder.

    3. AMT*

      I’m trans and I have trans flag and rainbow flag stickers in my office (social worker). I think — well, I hope — that it puts LGBTQ clients at ease and lets them know that they can talk about sensitive issues without judgment.

  19. AMG*

    I am so proud of this community for being warm and supportive. I hope the day comes when it’s just business as usual. I have no advice but wanted to offer my support and well wishes. Please send us an update as this is somewhat uncharted territory and others will surely benefit from hearing how you navigated it.

  20. DCW*

    There really isn’t a single ideal time; so much is situation and employer dependent, and that’s even harder to judge being a prospective or new employee. Any given approach has advantages and disadvantages.

    The bathroom issue is one that comes up a bit. I had to fight to not be restricted to the single gender-neutral loo in the place.

    From my own experience as staff at a large public (US) university (granted, I was hired years before I transitioned there) possibly the single biggest factors in my favor were having visible support from senior management and doing everything I could to not let it be an issue in the office.

    1. eee*

      Yes, the bathroom thing can be such a big issue. The “gender neutral” bathroom seems like a good compromise to some people, but they miss that besides being somewhat offensive, usually unisex bathrooms are rare, and are one stall only, whereas the men and womens restrooms have 3-4 stalls each. In my university, unisex stalls were only present in the library. No other building on campus had them. If someone like a faculty member had been forced to use just the unisex ones, there would have been only one location on the entire campus where they could pee. Not a pleasant situation.

      1. Ad Astra*

        It’s weird that people (not AAM users, just people in general) get so hung up on single-gender bathrooms. I can’t think of any situation where I’d undress outside the stall in a bathroom at work, school, the movie theater, etc. Obviously a man walking into the ladies’ room at work would throw me for a loop because it’s unusual and “not allowed,” but I wouldn’t feel exposed or scandalized because I’d be fully clothed, washing my hands. I certainly can’t imagine a trans woman’s presence in the ladies’ room would bother me one bit.

        The issue of locker rooms, where you actually undress in front of other people, is a little more complicated. But regular public bathrooms full of stalls? This is something Society should start getting over.

      2. Lionness*

        The best solution I came across was at a restaurant I had dinner at the other night. Their bathrooms were labeled “human” and “also human” and they had a small sign stating people should use the bathroom of their choice because…we’re all human. The one I went into had 4 or 5 stalls, I assume the other was identical.

        1. Sweaty*

          This is honestly incredible. I’ve never heard of this but I imagine it’s of great benefit, especially to nonbinary people or others who are not comfortable using either traditional bathroom.

          I have been using public bathrooms for years and never been harrassed by another patron. So I do not think it’s going to start now.

  21. postscript*

    One way to pre-emptively signal this could be adding an affiliation to your resume – such as leadership or membership in an LGBT advocacy organization or trans rights group, or any volunteer work you’ve done for these kinds of organizations. In the nonprofit where I work, this would be a bonus, because we are always looking for people who have understanding of and experience with diverse populations and/or come from these groups. And then you would know that if we called you for an interview, we’re cool with transpeople (or at least with people who are affiliated with LGBT organizations).

    1. LawPancake*

      That’s what I did in my last job search. I had two separate LGBT affiliations included (I’m a lesbian and I can only imagine how much more fraught it must be to deal with transphobia). They were listed intentionally because I don’t want to work in an environment where I’m uncomfortable talking about my wife. Somehow that totally backfired and I ended up with a complete bigot for a boss who’d decided to hire me, despite my resume, because I couldn’t possibly be “one of them” in my interview. Shortly after I started, and after I got the distinct impression my partner wouldn’t be welcome at the boss’s x-mas party, a (thankfully former) coworker told him that I was, in fact, a lesbian… So for the next year until he retired he managed to quite pointedly not ask me a single personal question. Like, he’d ask Abe, Bob, and Carla how their weekends were and I’d just be there…

      It was truly awful and it wasn’t until he was gone that I realized how much of that garbage I’d internalized. I went from being confident and comfortable expressing basic affection in public to being hyper-aware of anyone who might be giving me and my wife a dirty look. Now that he’s gone and I’ve got a boss who’s not a bigot I’m shocked and furious at how much I let him influence me. I wish I’d been braver or bolder and stood up to him (I’m sure HR would have back me) but maaaan it’s hard.

      LW, if you’re in a situation where you can afford to be picky when choosing a job, bring it up with the hiring manager after you get an offer (or in the interview if you can work it in organically). See if you can get a sense of the culture and their reactions. Transitioning is such a sensitive time already and having, if not the support, at least the professionalism of your colleagues can certainly make a difference to your own mental health. If you can’t afford to wait for a welcoming workplace, make sure you’ve got a good support network. Heck, even if you have a supportive workplace but they’re not familiar with trans issues, educating people can be exhausting and it’s crucial to have a place where you can just be you and not the face of an issue.

  22. CM*

    Personally, if I just wanted the employer to know, and wasn’t sussing them out on whether it would be an issue for them, I’d wait until the offer stage and then present it in a matter-of-fact way: “By the way, I wanted to let you know that I will be transitioning over the next few months, so you may notice some changes in my appearance or clothing, and I will ask to be called by X name.”

    1. LBK*

      Oh, I like that a lot – framing it in terms of setting expectations rather that leaving an open-ended question of how they want to treat you. As simple and straightforward as telling them you have a scheduled vacation coming up: here is a thing that I’ve already planned that’s going to happen at some point while I’m working for you.

    2. The OP*

      I like this suggestion, with the caveat that I think I’d bring it up like that at the end-of-interview any-last-questions stage. If I wait until I get the offer, I’d worry that the employer wouldn’t be okay with it but would feel unable to pull the offer, resulting in my being employed at a place that feels I lied to them or resents me for what I’m doing. What do you think of that?

      1. Lionness*

        I think that is fine. Understand that if they are uncomfortable it may mean that they (illegally and horribly) use this as a reason to not offer you a job…but you don’t want to work for those kind of people anyway.

  23. oh noes*


    I really wish that you would have used this an opportunity to bring a gender nonconfirming or transperson to help answer this one. I think that given the rates of unemployment for transgender people and violence towards transgender people, it’s clearly not about what’s on the books. It’s about how laws are used in communities.

    1. AMT*

      Yes, maybe someone from an organization like the Transgender Law Center or Lambda Legal would be willing to do a guest post!

      1. oh noes*

        yeah! I agree. I think that the issues that the OP is referring to run much deeper, and aren’t as fleshed out, because Alison is not someone who has gone through that experience.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Just to be clear, it’s the expert I brought in who was on the board of Lambda Legal, not me — if your comment refers to that, I want to make sure she’s getting the credit and I am not wrongly stealing it!

      1. oh noes*

        hope you consider revisiting this answer with one of those experts at your side. I think that there are a lot of underlying things that the OP is asking about–

        — dressing to match your gender for interviews
        — dressing gender nonconforming for interviews
        — how address/not address it at the interview stage
        — how to deal with a workplace environment that might appear to be friendly from the outset, but is not

        1. oh noes*

          and how to get around legal identification documents, name change docs, reference checks, background checks, security clearance etc.

          1. Today's anon*

            Just FYI if someone is looking: there is a lot of information on changing one’s name and gender legally both from the organizations mentioned and others, and the answer really depends on the state you live in and the one you were born in if you want to change your birth certificate. Also, there is information on how to change those on your passport.

            1. oh noes*

              my point is that it’s worth pointing out that when transitioning and applying for jobs– these are important things to consider in whether or not to come out with it at the interview stage. additionally these issues may mean that you have to come out a lot earlier in the interview process than you would normally want to or feel comfortable doing.

        2. SpyGlassez*

          Since the OP isn’t from the US, she would probably need to have a specialist in these issues in the OP’s country (which was Ireland, I think) and that may not be feasible. I don’t think it’s worth dinging her about.

  24. Jennifer M.*

    Completely non-related to your original question, but if you are 19, I wouldn’t necessarily expect your first full time entry-level job to be one that you are going to stay in a long time. Depending on your industry, it may require some moving around to gain upward mobility. This is my second time at my current company. I was there for about 4 years, took a small promotion at another company for 3 years which has allowed me to come back to the first company (which was my second “real job”) at a much more senior level than I could have hoped to achieve had I stayed put.

    1. The OP*

      I’m not looking for a full-time job, nor am I searching for my first job! I should have been clearer about that. I have already held a semi-skilled job for sort-of four years (two years in a trainee role, two in a working role). I’m also just looking for a part-time job to support my college costs and transition costs. During off-term time I’d like the option to work full-time, certainly, but that’s another matter.

      I accept it might just happen that I move around, but I think I’d rather feel like I won’t be searching for a job again in a month’s time.

  25. My Story and Exp*

    I am so glad that you finally posted a question on this topic!
    At work I am forced to present as a cisgender female when in fact I am much more on the transmasculine/gender queer spectrum. I have had to hide this part of my identity because I have been descriminted against – treated poorly when people find out that I am in romantic relationshios with trans women. I also write a transgender independant comic and I sell and present my work at the major comic/arts shows in my area. Needless to say a google search of my name takes employers right to my art stuffs.

    I am also in a position where my fiance (late 20s transwoman) has been forced to “de-transition” in order to quickly get a job. This job became her prison in a lot of ways because she had to live a lie.Thankfully she did apply using her true identity (disclosed at interview not in cover letter or resume which did have her chosen name on it)and found a job she could be herself at.

    I hope that there are a lot of people who will read this post and understand that we have a long way to go to get workplace equality. And it is especially true for the members of our transgender community who dont “pass” either by choice or by the nature of who they are/what their body type is.

    I can recall walking into work and seeing a large group of colleagues raising up their hands to see “if your index finger is longer than your ring finger than you are a man”

    I also get asked rude questions about my sex life and about accessories i may or may not use – there are still work places out there that are very hostile to gender varient people. There are also a lot of invasice questions that trans workers are asked. (No – its not cool to ask about my genitals at work :( )

    So I do agree and now when I interview I lay it out on the table that i am a a part of the trans community – and it helps to weed out the bad environments.

    The struggle is also hard for people who cannot slip under the gender radar so easily. its very expensive and can take months to change over vital documents- and also many trans people get their degrees and exp pre-transition.

    Just gotta keep looking till you find the right “fit” and that is probably the most important thing about finding a job.

    1. Nobody Here By That Name*

      Oh man. I can’t imagine how horrible it was for your fiancee to have to do that. My sympathies to her.

    2. Lionness*

      I just want to say it is not cool for people to ask you about your genitals ANYWHERE with the exception of your doctors office and the confines of a sexual relationship.

      What the hell!?

      1. Lab Monkey*

        Not unusual for trans people, particularly (?) us nonbinary folk. I was mostly out in my last job and fielded quite a few questions about what genital configuration I have from coworkers who were apparently very confused about nonbinary identities. (The answer, of course is, “What is wrong with you? Why in the world are you asking me that? Why is that your business?!”)

  26. Jamie*

    OP, I would just like to wish you the best of luck. I’m sure it won’t be easy but I’m happy we’re trending towards tolerance and acceptance.

  27. Carrie in Scotland*

    I have no advice but I wish the OP and all others who are/have/in the future will transition.

    OP: I’ve seen that you are keeping an eye on the comments. Could you update us in the future with how you are getting on?

  28. Withans*

    The OP may also find this post over at Beyond the Binary helpful, or at least reassuring – I certainly did. (Obviously NB-specific, but probably broadly applicable, and it gives very helpful suggested wording for an explanatory email if you start work and realise your coworkers haven’t got the memo.) http://beyondthebinary.co.uk/agony-auncle-im-worried-about-coming-out-as-non-binary-in-my-professional-life/

    I will say that I wish I’d come out sooner in the hiring process – it’s a lot harder to go, ‘You’ve all got to know me as X but I actually go by Y and use Z pronouns’ than to just go, ‘Hi, I’m Y, please use Z pronouns for me’ right from the get-go. I still haven’t mustered the courage to tell my manager and everyone I work with, so I end up just feeling a little sick inside whenever someone refers to me as female in my hearing.

  29. Anon for this*

    I have been living with that sick feeling for several years now. I think I could be ok if I could just fix the name. I can live with the wrong pronoun. I can live with people thinking of me as “female”. We can take medical leave without specifics (just need a note) so I could even have top surgery someday without coming out, if I wanted.

    I have been thinking of seeking a new job, anyway, so I’m thinking I’m just gonna apply to new jobs with my preferred name and then reveal my legal name if I get an offer or they are starting a background check. I don’t think they would need it before then.

  30. Vicki*

    We interviewed someone who was in the process of transitioning way back in 1987. She told us upfront that she was in this process and interviewed as a woman (although she hadn’t changed her name yet).

    It was slightly weird at the start of the interview and then it was just an interview. But we were a tech firm in the San Francisco area, so things might be different where you are.

  31. Kiera*

    Hi, I am dealing with a similar situation although instead of preparing ahead of time, I have already mistakenly taken a resume in person to a company who seems interested in me that has only my male name (legal name) and a photo of me from before transition with a massive beard. I really feel like I’ve led them on now…. I mean since I am transitioning, have began hormones and laser, the changes have already started yet they have a resume with a photo of me with a beard!! It’s embarrassing because now I will likely have to explain why that photo is there ( I am just going to remove it from
    My resume now). Now it brings up the issue of when do I bring it up. Everyone hS offered amazing advice on here so I am being pointed in the right direction, but now I’m concerned, nervous and scared of how I should bring this up before the interview next week. I don’t know if I should wait until the interview, or if I should call in and talk with the manager explaining the situation. I understand that may cut the possibility of getting this job, but I really think I have them the wrong impression of who I am. Any thoughts on this would
    Be greatly appreciated!

  32. OP (I asked the question originally) with an update*

    So I just remembered at work today that I posted this and that people at the time wanted me to post updates/thoughts on the situation at a later date. If anyone still will receive notifications or anything for it, I guess this is my update.

    Back in October (I think?) I didn’t interview as female. I wore androgynous attire, but I kept my legal name and didn’t say a word about transitioning. It was possibly self-evident, especially later when I was hired and the uniform clearly showed breasts, and I wore makeup and had long hair and was relatively often referred to as female by the customers. I never said anything officially though. I spent my time there as a christmas employee, was kept on for a while, but the job stopped suiting me so well so I searched for and found a second job.

    That one I interviewed for as female, with the name I go by and live with, which will soon be my legal name. I didn’t say anything about being transgender and they didn’t ask. My official documentation was still male, but I was hired as a female employee, all the ins and outs that that entails. Some people in payroll and things probably know, but I don’t think that it was ever a company-wide alert that *a transgender employee was coming*. It’s normal, it’s easy, and people are nice. If there was a reason to say it, I would be honest about it, but there has been no reason at all to feel it’s something I should do yet. Most coworkers don’t *seem* to know, customers invariably gender me right, and it’s generally a really nice place to be at so relatively early in transition.

    I’m having trouble framing this in less of a “personal success” way and more of a “business/employment strategies and tactics” way, because I’m aware that I was very lucky, and a lot of the success I influence myself comes from my personality as much as it does from smart tactics, I think. So if anyone would want at any time to ask me about specific things, that’d be fine by me, but otherwise I haven’t much left to say, other than to thank you all for the comments and suggestions, and for Alison Green’s original piece. It wasn’t useful to me back at the time because I was too shy to try any of this, but it was useful the second round of interviews around :)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m so glad things are going well for you! If it’s okay with you, I’ll make this into its own standalone update sometime soon so that more people will see it.

      1. OP (I asked the question originally) with an update*

        Yeah, that would be 100% okay with me. If you want me to talk about anything specific or if you want me to reword anything to suit the website better, that’s fine too. Thank you so much for the original article, again, it helped me a lot in the end!

  33. Lois*

    Although its not required that you tell your employer,it may be in your best interest to do so.The HR dept and supervisors at an equal opportunity employer are often glad to help & welcome you to the company.They have policies & methods in place to help you when it comes to many situations with the other employees,to ensure that you feel comfortable & welcome and won’t face any discrimination or hostility.
    Here in Canada,there are laws to protect transgender employees and ensure that everyone is treated equally when it comes to gender.

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