Skip to main content

Emerging from the Cocoon

So, it's been a really hard couple of weeks for some of us who find ourselves helping to comprise any kind of marginalized groups. Of course, it's really been a difficult couple of years for the same groups of people.

I think it's important for marginalized people to tell their own story so I'm going to focus on what most concerns my own situation. This is not to imply importance or priority in any way. During these times of great strife, we're really all called upon to support the diversity of the people we serve, many of whom are facing unfathomable challenges in response to what's happening nationally.

Before I continue, I'd like to offer a bit of a disclaimer or, really, more of an explanation.  Yes, this post is a bit of a deviation of what I've been posting, but I feel called to use this platform to highlight what I believe to be a crisis in humanity. When we are in the profession of serving people, we cannot possibly recognize the diversity needed if we're not willing to discuss the challenges faced by people who may not meet the qualifications to be considered the status quo.

A few months ago, I canceled all my social media accounts in response to the intense trolling I faced after posting something political. Quite frankly, as a transgender professional in a public-facing role, I was concerned about my personal safety. Subsequently, I retooled this blog platform to omit as much personal details about my life, transition, and identity as I could without entirely compromising my authenticity. Since then, I have really pretty much focused on my contributions to IT best practices and lessons learned leading IT service desk teams.

I'm pretty happy with the way this blog platform turned out. I'm making it a point as much as possible, in the interest of striving to rest in positivity, to recognize the blessings in disguise that often emerge when we face a challenge that may seem like a curse. One of these is that I've never been happier with the focus, branding, and content of this or any other blog I've ever tried to have.

With all of that being said, I think the time to emerge from my cocoon is now. Really, I suppose it's passed, but better too late than never, right?

I don't know if you've been watching the news lately or whether you'll even be reading this close to the time when it's being written, but it's a pretty scary time for the trans+ community. That sense of fear certainly applies not only to the greater LGBTQ community, but also marginalized groups more broadly.

Speaking for myself, I've never been more scared that sweeping actions will be implemented to erase my very existence as a transgender person. Precisely for that reason, I really need to be out and visible more than ever. I believe I owe it not only to myself,  but also the team I lead, the people I serve, and the rest of the world.

As trans+ people, our lives are almost constantly filled with challenges in most places as soon as we step out of the closet. That's especially true for those who don't conform to binary standards of gender. Even during the Obama era, when more rights were afforded to trans people than ever before, jumping through the hoops to transition in any notable way has always been tedious.

What I'm saying is it's already hard enough. I think about transitioning as being a continuous quest of challenges. I re-watched Never-Ending story recently, to my nostalgic delight, and I found myself thinking of the parallels between Atreyu's arduous quest to find a cure for the princess and what's involved in treating gender dysphoria. I can tell you that many challenges still persist even after migrating to one of the most progressive places in perhaps the most progressive region of this country.

What we're now seeing are throngs of politicians, pundits, and officials trying to ensure that all those efforts will be for naught. If what's being talked about unfolds as it seems it may, we may never be able to officially identify ourselves as anything than our gender assigned at birth despite any efforts, certainty, or attributes to the contrary.

If that happens, to be perfectly blunt, I shudder to think how much (or little) of my trans+ family throughout the world will survive. Transgender people are everywhere. Many of them are still too terrified, maybe now more than ever, to be themselves out in the world. That was me for a few decades so I can definitely relate. For those of us who are out, I think many of us are wondering how much longer we'll be able to use public restrooms, apply for government identification, contribute to public service, or travel.

Even before the latest draconian efforts on behalf of the government to regulate or maybe even prohibit trans public life, I can tell you that I always found it terrifying to enter a public restroom catering to the gender I present as the most these days. I'm fortunate enough to work in an environment where I can very often, even if not as often as I'd like, find restrooms that serve all genders. Since the recent news, I do my best to avoid any kind of public restroom situation as much as possible. Of course, if I gave into that impulse entirely, I'd never leave my home, but that, of course, is the point.

This may sound like venting, but my purpose here is education. More than anything, I want to emphasize that we owe it to ourselves and our teams as leaders to champion diversity. Marginalized people on our teams need us more than ever. We need to make ourselves available for support as much as needed and really do our parts to alleviate any frustrations or challenges being experienced on the part of the people who work hard to provide our services.

I'm taking all of this as a reminder that, while I've been hurting, so have so many others. As much as I want to continue life curled up in a ball and cocooned as much as possible, I realize that I'd be doing a disservice to my own life and the lives of those around me if I wasn't willing to be vulnerable, be transparent, and publicly be proud to be who I am. I especially owe it to anyone who's trying to find themselves or figure out their identity in a hostile world that increasingly seems filled with staggering piles of challenges stacked against them.

Let's be true to ourselves, put ourselves out there, and be willing to offer a helping hand or sympathetic ear to people who may be suffering throughout these times of great strife.