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I like to say that I am transgender rather than I identify as transgender. This is because being trans is something I discovered about myself, not something I chose. I choose the language that I use to describe myself: nonbinary, trans, queer, genderqueer, but not what I am.
I have been in many challenging situations as a queer, nonbinary and transgender person—everything from service providers asking me whether I’m a “sir” or a “ma’am” to being interrogated about how I can be something other than male or female (my pronouns are they, them and their), to even being sexually harassed and feeling physically unsafe.
Occasionally, I can explain my pronouns and my gender and be understood, but most of the time I smile and act as nonconfrontational as humanly possible until I can leave the situation—it’s how I keep myself safe.
Having allies in my corner to advocate for me, personally and professionally, means I don’t have to fight to be understood. Allies help me feel accepted and respected for who I am—which is something we all want and deserve, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity.
Coming out at Accenture
I came out as transgender socially in college, but I wasn’t sure how open I could be—and wanted to be—once I entered the workforce.
I knew coming in that Accenture had a reputation for being an inclusive company, but wasn’t sure if they’d “walk the talk.” Some places say they’re inclusive but they’re not necessarily aware of the issues trans and nonbinary people face.
It took me about three months to decide to come out at work and, thankfully, Accenture isn’t all talk. My colleagues are genuine, compassionate people who’ve been incredibly supportive during my transition.
I’ve had someone by my side who personally works with trans employees while they transition at Accenture. She answered any questions I had about policies, acted as a sounding board while I was drafting a coming-out e-mail to my coworkers and reached out to the leads on my project to empower them to best advocate for me.
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Having allies means I don't have to spend energy advocating for myself.
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Having a supportive work culture means that people can be open with each other. It encourages diversity, both in terms of the people in the room and their ideas. And it allows me to focus on performing well, rather than spending energy worrying about how I am being perceived.
The value of allies
Having allies means I don’t always have to spend energy advocating for myself. Every time I hear someone tell or correct someone about my pronouns or offer to explain something about gender on my behalf, it’s a weight off my shoulders.
The first step in being an ally is realizing it’s an ongoing process. I, too, am always working on being a better ally to the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s okay if you don’t know everything—no one expects you to! We are all continually learning how to treat each other better.
I think the simplest way for people to be more inclusive of the trans community, or really any aspect of someone else’s identity, is to use the language that someone chooses for themselves. And if you aren’t sure what name or pronouns to use, just ask.
Transgender Day of Visibility
To me, International Transgender Day of Visibility is about courage and responsibility.
As a white, upper middle class, transmasculine person living in a city in the U.S., it is much safer for me to be out than it is for many transgender people. I have an incredibly supportive community and work environment, which is not the case for many trans folks. As someone who is relatively safe living openly and authentically, I feel it is my responsibility to be visible for those who are not.
Still, being out is a vulnerable position, and the decision to come out should be a personal one. At a time when being openly transgender is still dangerous in most places, being visible takes courage.
When I finally had the courage to come out at work, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. Being affirmed and supported has reduced my anxiety and allows me to better focus on what I actually want to be known for: the quality of my work.
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