Sometimes, we catch a break

It’s been three full months since my firm’s LGBT network profiled me on their web site. To date, the site has received the most hits ever that month – must have been that there was something different there. 😉 They received some very positive feedback about my profile, but it hasn’t prompted anyone else to come forward to either them or to me. I was hoping perhaps someone might.

When I started doing the me ‘being out’ thing at work, I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t likely to advance far in the corporation. If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s the poster child for corporate America and I figured that I should be thankful for having the opportunity I do. Kind of a second class mentality. There are people who get ahead and people who don’t: transpeople are not a part of the former.

Last year, my manager nominated me for promotion to VP (at my firm, you need to be nominated by your management and voted on by the VP promotion committee.) Needless to say, I didn’t get it. I didn’t expect to and neither did my manager, but he wanted to get my name out there more for the next time than anything else. This year, he once again nominated me and I had similar expectations – i.e. none. I did, however, appreciate his support and pretty much forgot about it.

Around the end of October, he tells me that I am one of ten candidates about whom the committee is ‘on the fence’ and hits me up for a bunch of info about my area, projects, clients, etc – all to ‘strengthen my case’. Encouraging as this is, I refuse to get my hopes up – but gladly provided the information.

Middle of November, my manager stops by my cube looking somewhat anxious. I ask him, “What’s up?”

He asks me, “Are you part of any professional groups? Clubs? Organizations? Are you involved with any of the diversity networks? Anything like that?”

“Why?” I ask.

He says, “I’m looking for a way to make you ‘stand out’ from the other candidates.”

I look at him and ask, “You mean more than I already do?”

He looks at me quizzically – not getting the joke at all. Up until now, I hadn’t discussed any of this (the trans thing) with my management. As they have had no issue with me or what I do, I saw no reason to make an issue of it with them. So now I’m wondering, “Do I tell him about my profile posted online? Do I really want to do this?”

In for a penny, in for a pound. “Come on, let’s go to your office.” I tell him. He logs in and I call up my profile page posted on our LGBT network’s site. “Is this what you’re looking for?”

He scans the page, turns to me and with the look of a kid with a new toy says, “Dude – this is perfect! I don’t even have to write anything up, you have your own webpage!”

I’m feeling a bit embarrassed at this point. He reads it again and asks, “Do you ever get this type of response?”

I tell him “Most people are like, “Oh, ok” or “That’s interesting” but no one has ever done the Snoopy dance of happiness over it.”

He looks at me and says, “This is pretty cool.”

I realize the implications of this. My manager now knows (as does the woman with whom he shares as office) which means that his manager will know – as will the entire voting committee – and ultimately the IT division CIO. Like I said: in for a penny, in for a pound. 😮

I ponder notion that being trans and out can somehow work to my advantage. When I relate this all to my wife, she remarked, “Only you…” And after a short pause, comments, “It’s the shoes!” She (happily) has a very good attitude about this and remarks that me being me will only be interesting for just so long, so if I can use it to my advantage, I might as well. She also commented that perhaps this year has gone so well (I got a rather glowing review) because I was finally in an environment where I was able to ‘be myself’.

Middle of December, my firm announces bonus numbers and promotions are usually decided by then. My manager calls me in to give me my numbers and starts off with, “Dude, we did it! Congratulations, you made VP!” I almost don’t even care about a bonus at this point.

I was hopeful, but not optimistic. As I said, people like me don’t go anywhere in corporate America – if we’re allowed to stay there at all. Seems that I was proven quite wrong.

Not that I’m complaining. 🙂

When I wound up doing this whole ‘coming out’ thing at work, my wife wasn’t especially keen on the idea. There was always the concern as to how this would effect my career as I am the primary source of income for our family. But she has seen (as have I) that my firm has made a commitment to diversity and the being out hasn’t been a detriment at all – it may have even been a good thing. In any case, it has helped to show her that it doesn’t have to be something of which to be ashamed.

Not bad for a year’s work.

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