From Mars to Venus II

In 2005, while in-between moving, my room mate to be had been in contact with a trans girl who was making her way across country from Carolina way to the west coast stopping, from time to time, if she met kind-hearted people along the way who may allow her to stay for a spell. Well, she stayed at our place for a week or so, I believe, and ended up making quite an impression on me in her short time there. We went out a few times to clubs, drank too much, and just got a chance to get to know each other. The bond with trans women is already usually very strong, but she helped me find the courage, yeah, courage, see (?), to stand up straight, and be proud of who I am (I love you for that, Maya). Damn the torpedos. During her visit we had spoke of when she reached her destination of San Francisco she would call us and we had better get our butts out there as soon as we could. A nice thought, but hardly realistic. So, I thought. She left us in late summer.

Early in ’06, true to her word (though we had corresponded on-line), she called us with an invitation to come out to SF for a week, and while there, attend a GLBT job fair being held at the GLBT community center. This offer was too good for my room mate, and, I to pass up. The bonus was that we were going to be staying at the B&B our friend was working at the whole week, and at a crazy-good price to boot. The B&B house was a wonderfull place. I instantly felt at home as soon as I walked in and set my bags down. There were times when I didn’t want to leave just because I was enjoying just being able to relax without all the pressure that came with “home”. A few afternoons were spent reading in the great room while classical music massaged my nerves in the background. I could have stayed in that house forever.

The job fair was good. I wish I could say great, but it was just good. Overall, there may have been 15 companies represented such as Chase, Wells Fargo, Goodwill, but I was really just testing myself at that point to see what it was like to be in a job interview situation as a woman. So, that was a good experience, though I would still find a way to screw that up, probably. But, there was just no way of moving out there. I’m more of a country girl. Too much concrete and I start to feel dirty…..Anyway, I was able to meet some remarkable people during the week I was there. Also, while there I had arranged to meet a cousin of mine living in SF for a night out on the town.  A few weeks prior to flying out I had e-mailed her to tell of my upcoming trip, and in that e-mail I came out to her. Her reaction was a blessing. We had a great time when we went out for dinner and some dancing. Again, I cannot overstate the joy of being out without the fear of wondering, or, caring for that matter, if you’re going to see someone you know. Freedom is under-appreciated until you discover what it feels like, again, for the first time.

My point has been to finally say that, after a week of living as I knew I should be, I was less than thrilled about going back to the ever so drab life of “male mode” ( surely, Lori, Tiana, Nikki, and others KNOW what I mean ). So, a few weeks after coming home a wonderful friend of mine told me of a job opportunity at Anthem Blue Cross. She had also taken the liberty of informing her manager that I was transgender, and asking her if it would be an issue if I were to apply there, to which her manager’s reply was “absolutely not. experience is what counts”. It just so happened I had years of related experience for the job in question, and the chance of a lifetime was dangling right in front me on the end of stick I was pretty sure looked like I could reach the end of if I tried hard enough. Sssssttttrrrrreeetttttcccchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Most company’s idea of diversity in the workplace is having the one gay guy who always seems to bring the best fixin’s at the christmas party. So, when I went for my interview I went as me. Karen. True self. Whatever. Me. The interview went well, I was able to give good explanation as to what I would bring to the position, blah, blah, blah. I also made mention of my transgenderedness, making sure there would be no surprise if/or when I am offered a position. “We here at Anthem pride ourselves on our committment to diversity in the workplace, and would welcome you onto our team. Your situation wouldn’t be an issue.” Needless to say I was a little excited after the interview. The day before the interview I had taken an on-line assessment test, and had apparently scored favorably enough for them to call me in. Two days later I get the call, and am offered the job, then told I would have to start the following Monday (it was Wednesday). Suddenly the thought of leaving a job of 12 years was beginning to weigh heavily on me. It was told to me by Anthem that this was a hiring phase they do twice a year, and if I choose not to begin then, I could re-apply in August during the next phase. (Ooh, a way out. excuse me, please). I asked for, and was given a night to think over my options.

That phone call had taken place on my lunch hour, so, I lasted all of another 2 hours before I started to freak out over what I thought should have been an easy choice- quit hated job and go to work for a company that knows I am trans & still wants to hire me, or ( dammitt! ), stay on hated job and give my employer until August to find and train my replacement. Well, instead of taking the prize behind door #1, and walking away, I ended up going into my manager’s office and proceeded to breakdown right in front of him. Everything came spewing out – trans, the job frustrations, family, vacation seperation anxiety, everything. To his credit he sat and listened to everything I had to say. He said he would do what he could to support me on the job when I was ready to transition, but couldn’t guarantee a conflict free atmosphere. Did someone say ENDA? I tearfully told him I would stay on until August, but would then take my leave to pursue my new life. I second-guessed myself, and it would cost me dearly.

As August arrived I began trying to contact the manager who had interviewed me 5 months prior just to put my name in her ear as the next phase of hiring began. What I had thought was a good interview and solid opportunity was turning into an episode of “why wasn’t this woman calling me back”. I was finally told that my interviewer had taken another position in the company, that I would need to re-submit my application on-line, and I would also need to re-take the assessment test on-line. Whatever. It’s in the bag, I tell ya. Come to find out, just because I was told one thing by one person ( “your situation wouldn’t be a problem. welcome to the team” ) doesn’t mean squat when it comes 5 months later, and suddenly I don’t even get so much as a call back after re-applying. (Nope. Not this time. Fight for it, girl). I called and bugged the crap out of anyone that would listen to me about how I was this close to the job before, and now I couldn’t even get a phone call. Eventually, management in Baltimore assured me that my being transgender had nothing to do with me not being offered a position at that time, but that it was the fact that I failed to show the ability to committ myself on a long term basis, This, after choosing ( accepting their offer ) to wait, and give my job of 12 years proper notice and time to replace me. I specifically recall the conversation with the woman back in April on how difficult it must be to have to make a decision like not being able to give a company, after 12 years, the standard 2 week notice, and only give 3 days notice, instead. Oh, I was pissed. But, in the end it was my word against a woman who, eventually, claimed ignorance. Lesson learned. Don’t trust anything you hear in a job interview unless you get it in writing. Got it. Thanks. Bitch.

Recapping. I now was in the position of working at a place that had already found my now fully trained replacement. And on the other side I was no longer going to have the job that I had originally given notice to my current job I was leaving to take ( ugh, dizzy ). Nice going. Thankfully, work allowed me to stay on for 90 days while I looked for employment elsewhere. Truth be told I was so crushed by my own ability to somehow sabotage the one thing I wanted more than life itself, and at the end of 90 days I had yet to find work. It is so very painfully humbling when you put yourself out there for the world to judge you like they can when you go looking for work. Oh, they don’t judge you with their words. It’s the words they don’t say, and the looks they give when looking across at some one ( some thing? ) that they, surely, do not want working in their office. Basically, I got alot of ” why is it you want to work here ?”. It wasn’t the question they asked, it was the words they stressed when asking the question. Ask any question about insurance coverage and I could practically see the dream cloud appear over their head as the doctor bill$ were rolling in and sucking the company dry of all its money so I could have my pills & surgery. Because, that’s all I wanted, afterall, in their minds.

So, there I was, no job, & the rent was due. I called up my landlord and gave him a need-to-know type of explanation as to why I had to forfeit my lease and move out. Fortunately, he liked me and decided to just keep my security deposit, because, he was sure he could rent my apartment quickly. Ok, now it’s no job, and nowhere to live. Low and behold my mom offered to let me stay with them for a while. How delightful this would be. I was clear to say that I would still be going in and out as me when the time deemed it necessary, and if that would be a problem we should talk about it now. Nothing to say right then. I moved in that weekend. Six months never seemed so long.

A move was imminent.

Advertisements

One Response

  1. I’ve learned all too quickly the pain of having to go back to wearing the masc of my masculinity. You discuss some valuable lessons about workplace and gender, oh, and about getting promises in writing.

    I’m assuming there is another post coming. I look forward to it, in fact.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: