March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual event dedicated to celebrating transgender people and their contributions to society, and raising awareness of discrimination they face worldwide. In honor of the day, we spoke to a Blue Yonder associate who recently transitioned. The associate, who identifies as a woman and uses she/her pronouns, preferred to be anonymous but was open to sharing her story so others might learn from her experience.
- Tell me how you ended up working in technology.
I grew up in Phoenix. I always loved art and was very artsy growing up. I originally went to college for Psychology but ended up getting my degree in Web Design and Development, which I realized is something I love to do. It allows me to use some of my artsy side as well.
- When you made the decision to transition, it could not have been an easy one. I don’t think most people realize all the emotional decisions that go into it. Can you share what your experience was like?
Growing up, I always felt like I wasn’t a man. I didn’t have a lot of connections with men growing up; my connections were usually with women. The people around me could tell that I was uncomfortable with who I was. A lot of people thought I was a gay man, but I was only ever attracted to women. In fact, when I told my mom I wanted to transition, she felt it would be easier if I was a gay man. It wasn’t until I was older and I learned about the different gender and nonbinary identities that I began to understand who I really was and knew I needed to transition to feel fulfilled.
The COVID-19 pandemic came at the right time for me because it made transitioning easy. I think it would have been a lot harder to transition in the public eye but working from home made it easier. Otherwise, I think I would have had to hide my transition by wearing baggier clothes and such until I was fully transitioned.
A big part of why I chose to transition was I felt I needed to be myself both at work and at home. Hearing a name that doesn’t fit your gender identity or a pronoun that doesn’t fit who you are is really hard. My pronouns are she/her and those make me feel like me.
- How have most people reacted to your decision to transition?
While I didn’t transition in the public eye, there is always an element of your transition that is public. Knowing who you are and having people tell you that’s not who you are is very hard. For example, picking up food and having the person say, “Here’s your food, sir” is hard to hear.
Most of my friends and family have been okay with my transition and have supported me. My mom was more concerned about my safety but has since affirmed I made the right decision to transition. My dad did have a hard time with it, and it wasn’t until about six months ago that he used my new name. It was nice to hear him say it but it was a long path to get there.
- What challenges did you experience transitioning at work? Were there any surprises to you?
Transitioning at work has been delightful. Blue Yonder and my team have been so supportive. I love my team so much because of it. In fact, one of my colleagues from India shared with me that India has a third gender for transgender people, which I had no idea about. He shared how brave I was for transitioning and supported me. The whole team has gone out of their way to support me.
- If there was one thing you’d want people to know or say to someone, what would that be?
I think the #1 thing is if you accidentally make a mistake and call the person by their old name, don’t make the mistake about yourself. Apologize and move on. It happens too often and people dwell on it when they should move past it.
- What is your advice for someone who is supporting someone who has come out? Are there good resources out there that you might recommend?
This is going to sound funny but TeenVogue.com has some great articles and information about not only transgender people but about non-binary, genders in other cultures, and more. It is aimed at a younger audience, so it explains things really well.
- With March 31 being International Transgender Day of Visibility, what is the one thing you hope people will learn from the day?
I would say equity is the most important thing. Trying to get trans people the same rights as cis men/women have had for a long time. We need to protect gender rights equally and not invalidate them. Sadly, in the U.S., there are more than 400 active anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of state legislation, many targeting transgender Americans. Some laws that target female or male impersonators, such as drag queens, would impact me because simply wearing a dress would put me under that law. It is simply terrifying. We are such a small percentage of the population* yet we are being targeted simply out of hate and fear. That’s why it is so important for the cis-gender** community to show their support.
So what can you do this International Transgender Day of Visibility? You can seek to understand, ask questions, show empathy, and take action. Here are a few good resources:
- Human Right Campaign: Understanding the Transgender Community
- Human Rights Campaign: Myths and Facts: Battling Disinformation About Transgender Rights
- The Trevor Project: Our Resolution: Defeat Anti-LGBTQ Bills in 2023
- Teen Vogue – resources recommended by our Blue Yonder associate:
* According to a Pew Research Center survey 1.6% of U.S. adults are transgender or nonbinary
** cis-gender are those who identify with the sex assigned to them at birth