Tag Archives: Transition

IT Department Woes

Certain on-line tools at work will greet me with a friendly “Welcome, Bryan” when I log in.  This has bothered me for a while, but updating my name in the system would involve talking to our IT department.

I do not like talking to Corporate IT.

I have filed support tickets in the past, and I always end up feeling like there has been a miscommunication before the problem is finally resolved.  They’ll sometimes call my phone, but I never feel like this helps anything.  Instead, I start getting embarrassed that I need to keep asking the person on the other end to slow down and repeat what they just said.

So I’ve put off talking to corporate IT for a while, but being called “Bryan” against my will finally started bothering me.  I took a deep breath and filed a support ticket:

When I try to use this tool, it displays “Welcome, Bryan” instead of “Welcome, Anna.”  Can you please update my name?

I thought this was a simple enough request, and I received a reply later that afternoon:

The services that you have requested fall under the Engineering Support Group.  We have submitted a request on your behalf to have this group contact you.  Since the reported issue does not fall under Corp IT scope, we are going to cancel the Corp IT ticket.

Apparently we have two different IT departments?  Well, at least Corporate IT was nice enough to send my request to the right place!  Engineering IT took a look and replied with their solution to my request:

Sorry, but this appears to be Single-Sign-On related.  This is a Corporate IT issue, but I will submit the ticket on your behalf.

Okay … now it’s past 5 and I’m right back where I started, so I decided to call it a day and go home.  Corporate IT had replied by the next morning.  Maybe they were able to change my name in the SSO system?

Hi Anna, please use this link to change your password: <link>.  Thanks & Regards.

But … that’s not what I asked for at all!  I replied to I explain that I wanted to update my name in the SSO system.  This time they finally understood what I was asking for, and a day later I received an email asking me to verify if my name had updated properly.  Everything looks correct now, but I still wish it hadn’t taken three days to make a simple change.

One Year Full-Time

It occurs to me that I’ve been full-time for a little over a year now, so it’s time I shared the story of how I decided to switch over to living as Anna 100% of the time.

I had a plan for my transition from the beginning.  I started hormone therapy in April 2013, and I wanted to give the hormones time to work before going public.  The plan was to make an announcement at work right before leaving for the Christmas holidays, giving my coworkers a couple of weeks to let the news sink in.  That was the plan … for about four months.

I had a camping trip with some friends that August.  In the weeks leading up to it I managed to convince myself that I should spend the entire weekend as Anna to get some experience around other people.  I had a lot of fun that weekend!  I got over my initial fears on the first day, and some of the people I met that weekend had no idea that I’m trans.

That camping trip was a huge confidence boost for me, but it came with a side effect:  I didn’t want to go back to a life where I had to pretend to be male.  I delayed as long as I could, but I eventually had to go back to work.  My mental state started falling apart during my walk to downtown, and I ended up complaining to a group of friends that all my male clothes were big, baggy, and uncomfortable.

The day got worse from there.

I was just beginning to bring my attention to my work again when a group of people returned from lunch and greeted me with a friendly “Hey Bryan, how was your weekend?”.  This was an innocent question, and in any other context would have been fine.  Unfortunately, the reminder that the camping trip was over and I was back to presenting male felt like a huge slap in the face.  I spent the next hour trying really hard not to cry at my desk in front of everybody.

Later that day one of my friends pointed out that if presenting male was causing me problems, then why continue doing it?  The idea of switching to “Anna-mode” publicly and permanently made a lot of sense but it scared me at the same time.  Was I ready for full-time so soon?  What about my plan?  By the end of the day I had decided that relying on “the plan” was just a stalling tactic, and that I really needed to make a change for my sanity.  So I talked to my friends, I emailed my coworkers and by the end of the week I was full-time!

I haven’t regretted my decision one bit.  This past year was absolutely fantastic, and I’ve had a lot of fun.  I want to give a huge THANK YOU to all the people in my life who are there for me.  The whole transition process would have been way scarier if I didn’t have your friendship and support through all of it.  Here’s to year two!

I amuse myself sometimes

I’ve mentioned before that I like being somewhat open about my transition (at least around people I trust) because it lets me make better jokes.  Here is an exchange that happened a few weeks ago:

I needed something out of a closet at work and apparently I looked “heroic” when I opened the door, because a coworker commented “Wow, Anna, you looked like you were about to change into Superman or Wonder Woman or something!”  My reply?  “Well, first one … then the other!”

Of course, we all know that if I were a superhero I would be one of the X-Men! =P

Attending Linux Conferences – Before and After

I’m on my way home from my second Linux conference since transitioning and I’m beginning to pick up on some of the differences between attending as a man and attending as a woman.  The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that people seem to remember me now.

I attended a few events before transitioning, and the people I met in 2011 had largely forgotten me by 2012.  I guess that makes sense, now that I think about it.  I would quietly keep to myself and that usually meant that other people left me alone.  People saw me as just another guy at a Linux conference, and that made me almost unmemorable.

That’s all different now.  I re-met a lot of people in at the Linux Plumbers Conference last September, and they actually remembered who I am this week!  And everybody from recruiters to new friends are actively starting conversations with me!  I would be surprised if being a woman at a Linux conference didn’t play a part in this change.  But I’m also way more comfortable with myself, and I would like to think that makes me more approachable.

In my opinion, being social makes these events way more enjoyable.

Forgetting hormones

My body does not produce hormones the way a genetic female’s would, so instead I have to take estrogen supplying and testosterone blocking pills regularly to keep my body functioning normally.  I’m usually pretty good at remembering to take my hormones, and about 75% of the time I even remember to pack my hormones before going out for the night.   So far, I have only forgotten to medicate once.

This happened last July, about a week after my first dosage increase.  I was still adjusting to my new medication schedule, and one Saturday morning I forgot to take my hormones with breakfast.  I lasted about 4 – 5 hours before I started feeling really moody, for no obvious reason that I could think of.  I was out ice skating, and I needed a few angry laps around the ice rink before I finally thought: “My hormones!”.   When I finally reached home, I had about 6 hours to kill before taking my next pill.  There was no way I could wait that long.  I ended up cutting a pill in half and taking that, figuring it was be close enough.  I was back to normal within an hour!

I’m in California this week for a business trip, so I need to medicate three hours earlier every day.  Naturally, this is throwing off my normal routine.  I was good for most of the week, but this morning I managed to leave the hotel without packing my evening hormones.  I figured I had two options: 1) make a special trip back to the hotel to get my medicine or 2) subject my coworkers to moody-Anna during dinner.

Lucky for them, I picked option 2.

My (new) Drivers License Game

When I updated my drivers license after my name change last month, I was initially annoyed that the State of Michigan did not let me update my gender marker as well.  I have been carded a few times in the last month, and from what I can tell nobody actually notices what gender your drivers license says you are.  I’ve decided to turn this into a game – how long will it take until somebody comments on this “mistake”?  I’m guessing that if I keep being confident then nobody will notice for a long time.

So far, I have had to show my license twice.  Both times, the person looked at the year I was born and then addressed me with female pronouns.  One of the people even made a comment about how I was born in 1988 and didn’t have my ears pierced yet!

I have a few flights at the end of February.  I wonder if TSA agents look at these details?

Name updating status

I had my name legally changed a few weeks ago, which is a relief because my old drivers license basically stopped working.  When I went to adopt my cats the woman at the Humane Society took one confused look at my license and immediately told me “this isn’t you.”

I’m honestly surprised at just how easy the entire process has been.  I was in front of a judge for a whole 30 seconds, just long enough to verify my old name, age, and that I’ve been living in the county for at least a year.   Easy!

I’ve heard that the difficult part of a legal name change is updating everything afterwards, but that part hasn’t been too bad (so far).  The Social Security Administration office took about 45 minutes to work through, and there were only 3 people in front of me at the Secretary of State.  In a little over an hour I had updated my Social Security card, drivers license, car title and car registration.

I have been visiting as many places in person as I can, and showing my court papers in person.  The longest part is usually waiting for my turn in line and actually talking to a representative to update my account takes less than 5 minutes.  This was way better than I was expecting, but I suppose it helps that I am doing all of this over the holidays when I have extra time.

I can already tell that updating the deed to my condo is going to be more challenging.  The county Register of Deeds told me that I would have to find a title company and have the deed redrafted, which hopefully won’t take too long.  I am not expecting this change to be free.

I am going to tackle updating my name at work (and therefore with my health insurance company) after New Years.  I hope everything goes smoothly!

Why I can never be “stealth”

For many trans-people, one of the biggest goals after transition is to go “stealth”. This means hiding your past from everybody your interact with so that nobody knows your true history.

I don’t think I can ever do this.

First, putting yourself into a situation where nobody knows your past is very challenging. Packing up and moving to another town where nobody would know me is a big decision to make, especially since it would mean leaving behind all of my friends. My friends were super-supportive of me during my transition, and I could never just abandon them after everything they have helped me through. So even if I was to move to a new place, far away from the people that know me, I would still have an issue with all of my identification that declares me to be male. The state of Michigan requires reassignment surgery before I can fix the gender marker on my ID, and that is a huge step that I haven’t even begun to wrap my brain around yet.

But there are other reasons I could never be completely stealth, as well. I like to joke about my transness with the people I’m close to, for example: just the other day I proudly declared that I’m a Time Lord on her second incarnation (and regeneration in real life takes way longer than it does on Doctor Who!). If I was ever stealth, it would mean I’m no longer able to speak the amusing comments that sometimes pop into my head, and that just wouldn’t be fun.

Just because I’m not completely stealthy doesn’t mean I go around broadcasting my history to strangers. I don’t introduce myself to somebody with “Hi, I’m Anna and I’m transgender!” since that would just be awkward. I know I pass well, and that gives me the freedom to choose who I want to reveal my past to. Sure, it’ll require some basic trust building when I make friends with somebody new but that’s okay. My new friends will get there eventually.

What has been the hardest part?

I was asked an interesting question about transitioning by a friend last night – “What has been the hardest part?”  The first answer that popped into my head was coming out to my friends, especially the first few.  I took a night to sleep on the question, and I can better expand on my answer now that I’ve had more time to think about it.

So what has been the hardest part?  Learning to open up about myself.

I spent years convincing myself that one day the dysphoria would go away, and nobody would ever have to know about it.  I made a habit out of dodging questions and flat out lying to keep people from knowing what really goes on in my head.  I feel bad about that know, but avoiding talking about anything related to the transgender world was a defense mechanism.  I was completely terrified of how people would react if they knew.  Would I be fired?  Would nobody talk to me ever again?

Somewhere along the line I realized that if I couldn’t talk about my issues, then I couldn’t transition.  I had to be able to tell people what was going on, why I was changing and what that meant.  The last thing I wanted was to abandon my old life and start fresh as somebody else.  I love my friends, I love my job and I stubbornly refuse to give anything or anybody up.

I’m a geek, and I reacted the way any geek would during a crisis:  hop on Google.  All my “why do I think the way I do?” kinds of questions kept leading to the same trans support site, so I made my own account thinking that I could post and ask questions anonymously.  It took almost two months before I made my first post.  I had a cold a few days before, and I had told my brother that rather than taking medicine I would just ignore it until it goes away.  He reminded me that I should know better than that by now, and that the last time I ignored a serious issue I ended up in the hospital with a massive infection on my intestines.  Two days later I made my first thread.

Everything started “snowballing” from there.  Scheduling my first gender therapist appointment took a couple of weeks to force myself to do.  Telling my first friend?  Only a couple of hours.  Coming out to people got easier and easier as I got used to it.  And the things I was afraid of?  They didn’t happen.  I still have my job, I still have my friends.  Unsurprisingly, now that I’m not withdrawing in on myself anymore I feel like I’m much closer to everybody in my life than I ever used to be.