I found it incredibly hard to transition gender from female to male at work. It took me two years to work up the courage, but I finally did it. Everyone was very polite, but I really felt like no one really accepted that my change was a reality. Certainly, many people kept forgetting and using the wrong pronoun. Consequently, I felt really afraid to use the men’s room. I felt like my male co-workers would perceive me as a woman in “their” washroom. At the same time, I was presenting as 100% male, so I was really afraid to use the women’s washroom as well. One time I was desperate and I did, and there were some women who did not know me, and they became extremely hostile.
Fortunately, we had one gender-neutral washroom, otherwise I would have been in big trouble! It HAD to be gender-neutral, because we only had one wheelchair-accessible washroom.
Starting fresh with a new job
I solved this problem by getting a new job. Starting a new job as a man (looking male, and with male identification) felt like having an enormous psychological weight removed from me. Everyone, absolutely everyone, calls me “he” at my new job. No one ever makes a mistake, because no one has ever known me as anything but male. There is no problem in the washroom. Other men talk to me in the washroom in a casual way (contrary to popular belief among women, men do actually talk to each other in washrooms, as long as they know each other).
Being one of the men at work
Having previously been in the workplace as a woman, it is interesting to now work as a man. I have formed the kind of casual and superficial friendships with other men that are expected in the workplace. I talk to other men about subjects of common interest, such as bikes and wives and property prices and weekends.
How men talk with other men at work
I have learned some things I never expected. For example, men talk to each other about diets and weight, just as women do. But we never do it when women are around!
However, I have never yet had a discussion with any of the men at the office about feelings of any kind (apart from the generic “thank God it’s Friday” kind of thing). The only problems I ever discuss with men at the office are related to financial or work pressures, or the weather. I am fortunate that I work with so many geeks that my complete lack of interest in organized sports is not even noticed. In fact, after several years of living as a man, that particular lack of knowledge has never been a problem. But that is probably because most of the men I work with are geeks, and are more interested in Batman than baseball.
Also – and contrary to popular belief – I have never once heard another man at work talk disrespectfully about women in general, or about his wife in particular. When wives are mentioned, it is invariably in a positive way. It seems to me that, like me, most men are just amazed and proud that someone would actually marry them. It may be that I am just fortunate to work with a lot of very intelligent and decent men!
Relationships with women who I work with
I still find that I have a few really good relationships with women at the office. I am close to a few women at the office, while all my relationships with men at the office are superficial at best. I don’t know if those women that I am close to find this odd. I don’t know if they think of me as a strange man, or even if they wonder whether I am transgendered. But as long as they keep unfailingly calling me “he,” I can deal with the uncertainty. I have asked friends who know me well what they think – they think that no one at work ever suspects my past. As they say, people see what they want to see.
Once you reach a certain point on your transition journey, people see you as male, and they don’t let minor details (such as hand size) distract them.
Gender discrimination in the workplace is alive and well
Interestingly, I have earned about 20% more since transitioning, even though I now have a less demanding job. Apparently, gender discrimination in the workplace is alive and well. Now it is working for me instead of against me, but that does not make it right!
Bottom line for me: I had to get a new job to fit in as one of the men at work. Now that I have done that, I feel very comfortable in my job and with my co-workers. I hope that this is not necessary for all trans men.
The above post is excerpted from my book, How I Changed my Gender from Female to Male. You can look inside this book and see the table of contents by clicking on the Amazon link below.
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