Job Hunting While Trans – How Not To Lose?

So I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about employment again. I say “thinking” when what I really mean is “fretting”, or perhaps “stressing”.

I am perhaps the most indecisive person on the entire planet and so far that’s made transition extra complicated, as almost every step has been met with me analysing the crap out of the situation. So now that I’m having to think about employment opportunities again, I’m back to going back and forth over what to do.

This last year I’ve worked from home, which has worked out okay. I say ‘okay’ because some months have given plenty to do while others have left me very light on work, and therefore light on cash. Although I did apply for the odd job here and there I was mostly content to stick to what I was doing, as it also meant I could take care of my partner better, who especially needed me around last year.

It’s reached the point now where I have two choices on how to pursue employment, and both are tightly intertwined with transition.

 

Option #1 – The Mundane One

The first option is the boring mundane one: I try get any old job. I lean on my qualifications and self-employed work to try look employable as I try squeeze some sort of job out of the economy. Basically anything that I have even the vaguest interest in doing would do.

My mental health is not perfect right now, so a few jobs are off the table that would perhaps be too stressful, but I’d be willing to give a few different things a go.

Where this idea gets muddier is how it impacts the whole “Hey, I’m trans” thing. I can either be honest, casually mentioning that my preferred name is Mia and that I’d like a set of female pronouns please, but my ID is still in my old name. Alternatively I can show up and just not bother telling anyone, then essentially lie about my preferred name. Meaning I use my still-unchanged ID and happily pretend to be your average cis dude. If I do this and then get the job, it brings a new set of people into my life who I’m closeted to, which seems a bit… pointless and silly. Not to mention after moving 200 miles I’m very unenthused about the idea of introducing dual-identity nonsense back in my life.

In an ideal world I’d like to just come out and go to the job interviews as me, knowing full well that the interviewer is likely to be wondering about how I don’t quite look or sound like a Mia. But realistically that quite possibly will affect my employment chances. So it’s not a black and white choice.

If I really want to get employed, the most logical thing to do is not talk about being trans and just keep it all quiet until I’m safely in the job and things are secure.

 

Option #2 – The Riskier One

Option #2 is that I don’t even try to get a conventional job. Instead I throw myself fully into self-employment and try to scrape enough money each month to cover rent and food.

This option is way riskier, a lot less predictable and could completely fall flat. But… I could just come out now and not bother with any of that nonsense or stress. The goal then would be to try coast two years or so of self-employment while I get a chunk of transition out of the way, and presumably eventually feel a bit more comfortable applying for mundane jobs.

If I choose to do this, then I’ll likely just come out now in the areas of my life I’m still closeted in (some online spaces that are tied to my so-called professional life). But that means if this blows up in my face and I end up barely making any money, I’m already out and I can’t back down and apply to conventional jobs as a dude (AKA Easy Mode). So if I change my mind I’ve just made things more difficult for myself by trying to do this first.

 

An Unwinnable Situation?

One thing that I’ve realised is how much being trans has halted my professional life. It’s really thrown up a lot of walls for me, imagined or not, they’ve really made me stop and reconsider what I want to do. I’m honestly jealous of cis folks in that they don’t have to think about this stuff. They don’t need to fit their transition around how they’re going to make enough money to survive.

I remember reading someone saying once that transition is basically a fulltime job that you have to do alongside your regular fulltime job, and I’m starting to understand that just in terms of the amount of mental energy that goes into it.

I feel as if whichever option of those I pursue, I can’t win in the way I’d ideally like to. My priority is to be comfortable and look after my mental health, that’s number one. Which is to say, I want to be out and not juggling two identities. But I also need to make more money than I’m making right now, which is undeniably tricker if I come out now so early into my transition process.

I’m about to get nerdy with y’all. In a recent Avengers comic, there was a multi-year storyline about how the world was coming to an end. Towards the end of the story Valeria Richards tells her father Reed, who is trying to stop the inevitable destruction of the planet, that he can’t win. So he has to stop thinking about how to win, and start thinking about how to not lose.

 

Good point.

 

I feel like that puts my conundrum into a better perspective. Ending up in a situation where I’m back pretending that I’m not trans, and juggling two identities, would be losing, that would defeat a lot of the point of moving down here. Any situation where I’m making enough money to hang on and I’m living as myself 100% of the time is not losing, even if it’s a lot of work to keep myself above water.

So I suppose I have my answer. I need to come out, regardless.

If applying for jobs as a very visibly trans woman makes things more difficult then so be it. I’ll figure something out.

…Yes, friends will know I’ve been talking about coming out en masse for oh… about 6 months now? But trust me, this time is totally real. Honestly… no, really!

Since moving down here I’ve never lied and introduced myself as my old name or pretended that I’m male. I’m not about to start now. The only way to avoid that is to stop pretending altogether, everywhere.

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11 comments

  1. Nour S · February 3, 2016

    Hey Mia, 1st like and 1st comment !!! How awesome is that ?!? 😀 😀
    I don’t really know what field are working on, but personally, since I came here in the UK, i never showed my ID to anyone except for HR !! and personally, i think people can be much more accepting than you might think .. and i’m pretty sure you’ll find a proper job, as your true self .. No need to fake it any more .. and like you said, you put your priorities on the table already, so go hunt for it, girl 🙂

    I know i didn’t help much, i didn’t say much, but I guess you already made your decision .. as for your ID, you can start working on that immediately if you wish; Deed Poll, and go change your Name/ID/Passport/HMRC/NHS records, and you’re done !!

    wish you all the best of luck my dear 🙂
    Love,
    Nour

    Like

    • Mia (genderdrift) · February 3, 2016

      Thanks, Nour 🙂

      It’s good to know ID won’t be looked at much. I’m planning on doing Deed Poll very soon, but I’m having some last minute thoughts about what to take as my middle name which is making me hesitate a bit! I’ll get it sorted soon though and then I really won’t need my old name at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jamie Ray · February 3, 2016

    Yup. No pretending. All Mia all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Karin · February 3, 2016

    Hi Mia,

    Great post on something MANY of us go through. I stressed a lot about this and like you, it severely affected my career/professional life. Personally, i never felt like i had a real future as each company i worked for “would find out” I am Trans and fire me. (Even though i wasn’t yet transitoning). Ridiculous, now in hindsight.

    I did want to mention a 3rd possibility – Temporary Worker. This has worked very well for me for 20 months and I transitioned on this job (which ends in April). I aspire to be a fillmmaker/writer, but “temping” has allowed me to help take care of my family, transition and Not give up on my aspirations. No job guarantees or benefits, but this job got me through and gave me a chance. I have been ME for 6 months now and i love it.

    Good luck on making your decision and hopefully, only good comes your way.

    Karin

    Like

    • Mia (genderdrift) · February 3, 2016

      Hi, thanks for commenting! I’m happy to hear things are going well for you. Thanks for the advice about temp work, that’s a good call. I’ll definitely look into that as an option.

      Like

  4. Fredrication · February 3, 2016

    My experience is that if you don’t make a fuss about being trans, no one will care. If you just simply are you and then focus on work, people rarely care about how you look or what pronouns you go by. I never outed myself as gay in the hiring process (and am lucky enough to have a job now during transition) or for the first weeks at work. It rather sneaked in as I got to know my colleagues and they asked about family. I treat telling clients about being trans the same way, if they ask I answer but if they don’t I just focus on work and it works surprisingly well. People are way to polite or ignorant to ask or notice things like this. They just see a “special” person that is good at what they do.
    So go, be yourself with confidence and things will sort itself out. And IF you would have issues during a hiring process for being trans you wouldn’t want to work there anyway so consider yourself lucky to have found out before you started to work there. It’s their loss, not yours.

    Like

    • Mia (genderdrift) · February 4, 2016

      That’s a good point about not wanting to work there if there were problems, I hadn’t thought of it like that.

      Also, I really like your outlook, I think that’s what I need to do. Just roll with it and not think of it as something I inevitably have to explain or elaborate.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. ruthmartina2014 · February 7, 2016

    Great that you sound so positive and have a few options work-wise, Mia 🙂 I do have to give you a bit of a reality check re ID etc. if you do apply for work as it’s an area I’m familiar with professionally… The bottom line is you’ll be expected to produce documents (including photo ID) to prove you’re who you say you are, and that you’ve a Right to Work in UK. Not surprisingly these need to match the name in which you’ve applied and (hopefully!) been offered the job. I can pretty much guarantee that applying as Mia and then producing documents in Bob’s name will cause problems. As I see it your options are either a) apply in Bob’s name, turn up for interview as Bob, get the job and then ‘come out’ once you’ve started, b) apply in Bob’s name, turn up as Mia and explain why (if asked), or c) change your name legally to Mia on all documents before doing anything. In practical terms, it’s probably unavoidable that Bob will rear his head at some point because employers generally check at least 3 years’ personal or employment history.
    There will be a way round – there always is – but one way or another it will need you to be up-front about everything… which from what you say ain’t a problem any more – yay!
    Good luck!!

    Like

    • Mia (genderdrift) · February 10, 2016

      Thanks for the insight, Ruth, that is helpful 🙂

      Realistically, my plan is not to bother hiding my name and being fairly upfront over what’s my “legal” name vs. preferred name and just trusting that whoever I’m talking to is understanding enough to get it. If they’re not, then hey I guess I wouldn’t have wanted to work there anyway! It is tricky and irritating to be in this middle-zone, but I just don’t have the energy to keep pretending, but that said I am happy to be open about my old name and situation where needed. I already made peace with the fact that if anyone wants to, they’re going to be able to find my old name thanks to my pop culture blog, so it’s not something that bothers me too much.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ruthmartina2014 · February 10, 2016

    A well-made point about the ‘middle-zone’. I think it’s a stage that’s overlooked, under-estimated and unsupported, and as I’m also finding, is fraught with difficulties. I feel a blogpost coming on…

    Liked by 1 person

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