Outing Myself as Trans
I just did it again during a job interview. I outed myself as a Transgender woman. I was on a zoom interview and made the snap decision to let my interviewer know. Afterwards I had what might be similar to “buyer’s remorse.” Let’s call it “outing remorse.” Later I thought that outing myself probably wasn’t necessary, and probably ill-advised. In the moment however, I thought it actually might improve my chances of getting the job!
I was being interviewed for a Art teaching position at a school that offers one on one teaching to their students. They market themselves as a progressive and alternative program, which is what caught my eye in the first place. During our interview, the woman who represented the school let me know that they have been seeing a lot more non-gender conforming students. “Bingo,” I thought. This is the job I’m looking for! So many thoughts raced through my mind. “Am I better off remaining stealth?” “Maybe they’ll do a deep background check anyway.” “She probably checked me out online and already knows.” “Better to get it out up front.” “Don’t give her the ammunition to use against you.” In the end, I resisted my fears and put it out there.
Unfortunately my fears are not unfounded. I’ve had people react negatively to my disclosure more times than I can count. Wether it was a lover I told before transitioning or a potential landlord afterwards, I learned that the information was often the weapon that was used against me. I used to imagine my disclosure as a knife I was handing my partner. Very sharp and shiny. They would turn it over in their hand trying to decide what to do with it. Inevitably they would jab it in nice and deep. Sometimes only once or twice, sometimes over and over again for many years, but always in the heart, and always a death blow to our relationship.
Employers and landlords were normally more careful about how they used the weapon. Normally it was done by ghosting me. More of a “virtual “ stabbing. In fact, it has often been impossible to tell if I have been stabbed or not. However, the results are hard to ignore. My job and housing prospects were suddenly quite a bit more difficult to find after transitioning. On one occasion, I was applying for a room on a Craigslist ad that advertised their roommates as a “diverse group, including a Transgender Woman.” Of course, this room and roommate situation seemed tailor-made for me! I proudly outed myself in my email inquiry, believing my diversity would be my key to finally being a “preferred “ candidate. Not to be however. My response from the advertiser was in fact unbelievably inappropriate and discriminatory. The advertiser wrote, “Unfortunately we have enough transgender women. We don’t want to upset the gender balance of our house by adding another.” I normally wouldn’t respond to such ignorance, but I couldn’t help myself. I wrote, “Does your Transgender housemate know that you are publicly outing her? What if she was just a garden variety Lesbian? Would you still out her? Your response is straight up inappropriate and discriminatory.” They wrote back, “she wanted us to put it in the ad.” I let it go out that. I’ve learned long ago that it’s a waste of time and energy to try and explain why someone’s behavior is out of line.
So perhaps I’ve fallen for it again. Perhaps I have once again put my head into the lion’s mouth of discrimination. But perhaps not. Perhaps there is a little sliver of progressive thought out there that sees being Transgender as an asset and not as a liability. Perhaps outing myself this time will finally prove to be the right choice!