So my last blog post kind of blew up, huh? For a tiny personal blog having something shared from it more than a thousand time around Facebook and well over 100 times on Twitter is pretty surreal. On top of that I ended up having an edited version appear on the Huffington Post, which itself got shared around social media.
I want to jump back into regular blogging this time, so I’m not going to focus on that entry much longer, but I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who shared it or gave it a read. I wrote it with the hope that it’d help a couple of people out who might be feeling lonely or confused, instead I had a people tell me again and again in comments, tweets, e-mails and private messages that it was a huge help and was what they needed to hear. Which means a lot to me.
I’m genuinely delighted that I was able to help so many people.
Anyway! A few things have happened in my life since my last update and I’d like to just take stock and fill y’all in. So if you’ll join me for a few minutes, I’ll bring you up to date.
You’ll Never Guess What Happens When This Trans Woman Comes Out In Her Job Interview…
…Okay sorry for the silly clickbait-y type title, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.
So I applied for a job recently under my old name. I did so because I had no ID or documentation whatsoever in my new name (more on that momentarily…) so I figured I’d just play it all straight; give them the name that goes along with my qualifications and ID on the application, then I’d elaborate about my preferred name and my gender identity should things progress to the next step. As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I had tossed out all intention of getting myself into any new situation where I’d be using my old name.
So then things progressed and I got an interview, which was exciting.
I decided almost immediately that I would tell them I was trans at the interview, rather than doing so only if I was offered the job. Why? Because, to be blunt, I’m sick of pretending otherwise. I’m not a dude. Although I applied using a dude’s name, I had no interest in letting them think I was a dude. Furthermore, I knew that if I got the job I’d want to start as myself, Mia.
The bonus reason was a less personal based one and more practical based one: if the interviewer reacted badly or become flustered when I said I was trans, that’d be a clue that they might be either unfamiliar or outright hostile to me being trans. There would be no point in accepting a job somewhere that’s going to be weird about me being trans. I’d rather not get the job than slip into a new job only to find everyone there freaks out that I’m trans later.
Anyway, the interview consisted of a panel of 4 people. My first couple answers were admittedly a little rambling as I found my groove, but I felt like the interview had gone pretty well as we approached the end. It’d been nice and relaxed throughout, there’d been some jokes, the panel seemed happy with my answers and I felt like there was a nice dynamic between us.
So when it became time for me to ask questions for the interview panel, I asked if they had any LGBT policies in place. I explained I was asking because I’m transgender and I’ll be transitioning in the role if accepted. I mentioned it with the amount of focus and weight I feel it deserves, that is to say it’s not a huge deal but it’s something that’s important and relevant to me in terms of the next couple years. Nobody flinched, nobody cared, in fact I felt really welcome as the panel went on to explain that it’s important to them that they’re an inclusive workplace. I was honest in replying that it sounds like it’d be a nice place to work knowing that it’s such an accepting environment. After a more mundane closing question, the interview wrapped up and that was that.
I left the building feeling really positive and content that I’d given it my best shot.
Then the next day they called and offered me the job.
I start later this month.
The Deed Is Done
Once I’d accepted the job offer, I knew it was time to finally change my name formally and get everything updated. So that’s what I’ve been doing this week.
The first step was to create a deed poll to “legally” become Mia at last. I put legal in quotation marks there because, according to the government here, there is no such thing as “legal name” in the UK. But of course you all know what I mean by the term. There may not technically be such a thing, but we’re expected to have a single official name which we use in all formal instances and documents.
In the UK, a deed poll is basically a document that says you abandon your old name and embrace a specific new one. You have a witness, or two, who also sign the document to confirm it is indeed you who’s made this declaration on this date. Then once that’s done the document can be used as evidence that your name has changed. Done, nothing else is needed.
So this past week my housemates were kind enough to be witnesses and one morning we signed a few copies of the same deed poll document, meaning my name is now officially Mia.
Next up was changing my name at the bank.
I wasn’t too worried about doing this, but I was a little concerned that the bank might push me to see a solicitor first after seeing my deed poll. Yet everyone on Twitter assured me that when it came to my bank at least, they’d all had no trouble changing their name and title with just a deed poll and ID.
The best description I can give for how it went would be a friendly chat. I walked in, explained what I needed and in just a moment an attendant popped over to help me out. We then went over to a desk out of the way and updated both my name and title on my account, as well as issuing a new card in my new name.
The attendant who arranged everything was incredibly nice and I got the feeling she’d surely done this plenty of times before. If there’s anyone holding off changing their name at the bank due to concerns over how the staff will react, I can at least say that my experience was perfect.
I’m actually really looking forward to having my new bank card arrive. I didn’t think changing my name formally would have much effect on me emotionally, I already go by Mia with friends and I already consider it my name so it shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Despite that it actually makes me really happy to think about the fact that my name is Mia now. It’s no longer just my preferred name, it’s my documented name too. There’s evidence that it’s who I am, it makes the whole thing feel more concrete.
I agonised over choosing a name early last year and it took me a while to be certain that my name was right. But I’m 100% happy with the fact that I’m Mia. For the first time in my entire life, I feel like I have a name that fits.
It may have taken me a while longer than I wanted to reach this point, but all things considered I think I did the right thing. I don’t feel like I’ve arrived here too late or too early, this feels just right for everything that’s gone on in my life recently.
While all this was going on, there was somewhat of a spectre lurking behind it all. Basically, while visiting my parents, my girlfriend was sent for an urgent referral at the hospital. She underwent some pretty worrying tests and had been waiting for the results for a while.
With every bit of good news and progress lately it’s been tinted with the dread of “What if we’re about to hear back and it’s bad news?”
Well, thankfully everything is fine! She got the results and she tested negative, they know what’s there and it’s nothing as serious as the medical team feared it was. This has been an enormous relief and means we can focus on the future without that hanging over us.
My plans for the immediate future are now just about preparing for this job really. For instance, I have been and will be buying new clothes. I already own plenty of course, but I need to build a healthy amount of clothes that are business-casual. My workplace isn’t going to be super formal thankfully (no suits needed), but I still need some more buisness-y tops.
I also need to sort out the less exciting logistical things to do with my name change, such as Student Loans. Afterwards I really need to come out to the few people left who still don’t know I’m trans, which is an increasingly small list of old friends and other people I’ve not seen in forever.
Something I am looking forward to though is a meeting with HR. I e-mailed them once I had the job offer to explain that I wanted to be entered into the system as Mia from the get-go, and that I was currently changing my name via deed poll. They were incredibly understanding and invited me to come speak with them next week, specifically about how they can support me in relation to being trans. I consider this a pretty great sign about how sincere they are about being inclusive if nothing else.
Honestly, things are going really well. I’m almost apprehensive to say that. So much of the last year and a half has been difficult, with a lot of stress and constant emotional ups and downs. To have now had 3 months where everything has been improving and coming together is really nice.
That anxiety that this recent good fortune was both fragile and in danger, is starting to fade. Instead I’m confident that the scary scenario of ending up back where I was a year ago just isn’t going to happen. Things have really changed for the better.
I can’t prepare for everything and I know there are bound to be some more tough times coming, but I’ll be okay. I’ve got this and I’ve got the support I need to help me through it too.
As always, thanks to everyone who reads this blog, follows me on Twitter, or otherwise keeps up with me elsewhere. Your support means a lot.