Exactly three years, I started my first real job. Right at the very same time I started binding. The problem was that this job was in New York, and I lived in Philadelphia, which is a two hour commute on the bus. Each way. Binding is a real pain when you’re sitting on the bus for 2 hours, but I would do it because at that point I couldn’t not bind – it felt awful if I didn’t. Still, people saw me as a girl and I didn’t know any better.
Some people have asked me what others said about me being flat chested at work. Rather, a flat-chested girl. Since I didn’t go from boobs to flat, I can’t speak for the change in chest. But trust me, the #1 thing people notice about binding is… absolutely nothing. They don’t. (Except my mother, who just glared at my chest without wanting to bring up the subject.) And passing as a boy or not is also highly unrelated to binding. Same with surgery! Some people still think I have boobs (small ones! but they’re convinced something’s there). They see what they want to see.
So at my next job, job number two, I transitioned a bit more. When I arrived they asked me about my name, because I used Mich already as shorthand in emails and such. It naturally came up in conversation, and so I assented to go by Mich. Once somebody starts calling you something, it sticks, especially since I was starting a new job in a new city. So now pretty much everybody I interact with calls me that, and I can’t stand when people call me by my old name. At this job there was a very relaxed atmosphere. It was 7-10 people and to say there was no HR department is an understatement; at times we were more like roommates than coworkers. Not to mention that out of 10 people, another was a gay furry into BDSM and another was a transgirl – and we all knew this and talked of it openly. So I was pretty out as queer, but mildly out as transgender. I always corrected people when they said I was a lesbian, and we made fun that I looked like my boss’ son. This is where I wore my “Legalize Trans” shirt, which sparked conversation on the subject. Some people “got” it, some didn’t.
I’m now at my third job. When I was hired, I was smack in the middle of everything, and hadn’t decided exactly how I wanted to handle my “public” gender. I was still fighting against being forced to choose male or female. In the end it was too late, and ‘girl’ was chosen for me, before I had the guts to say anything, or had firmly decided to take it in the opposite direction.
At this point, I really don’t want to bother coming out at this job, because it’s a much larger company inside a humongous corporation (even though I have my own little ways of acting up, gender-wise). All of my coworkers are pretty much strangers – most I’ve never even met in person, or at all – and I don’t relish in the thought of strangers knowing strange things about me. Besides, it’s only temporary, I will be leaving this job soonish.
In between I’ve taken an important step in affirming my “public” gender as male. Because again, for practical purposes you’ve got to choose, and it’s taken me 2 years, but I’ve finally realized that I feel so damn uncomfortable with people seeing me, treating me, labeling me, and categorizing me as female. Since I really wouldn’t mind at all if the seeing and the treating and categorizing were male instead, then there’s nothing wrong with that except waiting any longer.
So I’ve resolved to slowly come out to friends and family and start correcting people who are above the ranks of anonymous strangers. Above all, at my next job I will definitely be out as transgender. I even wrote the FAQ section already for the next update to my professional portfolio, in which I include a big disclaimer on my (trans)gender identity, in hopes that I can avoid correcting people in person as most as possible. Or at the very least will have the guts (and a good excuse) to do it.