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.
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.