Everyone wants to be accepted for who they are, warts and all. I’m no exception. That’s why I was so afraid to be myself and transition. The transwoman I met during my “extended retreat” in Santa Fe was right, though… I have gotten thicker skin. I have gotten used to being stared at.
My girlfriend, Ronnie, and I went to Austin for a quick road trip a few weekends ago. It was a blast. We saw the bats that nest under the Congress Avenue Bridge. We had a killer pizza at Home Slice. We saw a ton of amazing art at museums. In short, we saw Austin in all its weirdness and it was glorious.
While we were at the Texas State Farmer’s Market, I noticed a woman see me, see that I was transgender, and smile even bigger at me after that realization. I told my girlfriend about it and told her that I try to focus on that 1 in 100 instead of the 2 or 3 in 100 that glare at me when they realize I’m Trans.
It’s all about my focus. I choose to focus on the one or two that celebrate me with their smiles.
At work, I didn’t tell people I was Trans for a long time after I started Hormone Replacement Therapy. I wanted to be known for my work ethic, not my gender identity… I wanted to be a normal member of the team. I don’t know why I waited so long, though. I love being myself at work. It’s been awesome watching the members of the team lean into my transition and start calling me “she” instead of “he.” It’s been great having everyone in my store get used to seeing me with boobies and smoky eyes and having them treat me exactly the same. Honestly, though, I kinda felt like I tricked my current coworkers because I started working in my role as a man and jumped across the fence a few weeks ago into presenting myself as a woman. They hired a dude but got a transwoman.
As a result, when I started applying for promotions, I made the decision to do the entire process en femme. I wanted my potential bosses to see me and treat me as I am from day one. When I went to my interviews, I went in what I affectionately call my Tina Fey Cosplay outfit. I sat in a room being questioned by multiple people and being treated totally normal as I interviewed for a management position.
However, it was still humbling to get a call from my future boss with a job offer. I was super happy in the moment but I also wanted to cry because they accepted me… the real me. They completely know what they’re getting and chose me based on my merit, which is all I ever wanted.
It’s also humbling because, with the promotion, I’m moving into management as a transwoman. It’s one thing to have lower level employees that are gender weirdos. It’s a completely different thing to welcome those weirdos into management… that’s putting your money where your mouth is concerning your values.
I told the Store Leader in the interview that I realized Whole Foods was home for me when I couldn’t count all the employees in my store that were on the Trans Spectrum on one hand. I also knew I was home when one of them was voted Outstanding Team Member. When I train new team members I always tell them the same thing: Whole Foods doesn’t care who you are, what you are, or how you are. If you’re willing to be kind and work hard, that’s all that we care about.
I want to work for a company with that value. If only more people in America were willing to live that way, too.
Full disclosure: I am employed by Whole Foods but have received no sponsorship for this blog post. If they want to change that, they’re more than welcome to pay me to blog for them. 🙂