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Getting Outed as Transgender at Work?

Getting Outed as Transgender at Work?

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

reader writes:

I’m a trans-woman. (Ed. note: For readers who may not know what this means, this is a transgender person who was born biologically a man but is living as a woman.) Over the past couple of years, I transitioned at my job. One of the two groups I worked with took this in stride, and with some expected and reasonable hiccups, generally referred to me correctly. The other didn’t, and very rarely used the correct pronoun on me, no matter how I asked (I even talked to HR). After more than a year of this, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I gave notice, completed the documentation they asked for, and left.

Now I’m applying for a position that I’m really excited about with an apparently wonderful company. The technical phone interviews went really well, so they’ve asked me out for an in-person interview. Oh, and they’ve asked for my references.

I’ve done some consulting work, and I’m comfortable asking one of my clients to be a reference. I can ask my better supervisor to be a reference, too. But that’s only two people. Making matters worse, I’ve been working full-time with the other group for most of this year, so the most recent (and most interesting) work I’ve done has been with them. And I know that no matter who I put down as a reference, the recruiter will probably find a way to talk to that supervisor—-and that supervisor almost never used the right pronouns while I was standing right there, so I have little faith that he’ll use the right ones on the phone.

On the plus side, this company has said that they won’t contact references without asking me first, and that they generally don’t do so until they’re ready to make an offer. They also have a strong non-discrimination policy, and seem to be a socially progressive company overall. When the recruiter asks if she can call my references, should I come out to her and tell her what to expect? I’m not actually really opposed to being out, but after my last experience, it’s really a decision I’d really like to be able to make for myself, after I’ve developed relationships with my coworkers and better understand the company culture. Help! What should I do?

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