Feeling Helpless as the World Tears Down My Transgender Wife
By U. A. Nigro
The time, commitment, and detail that she puts into everything that she does is something close to perfect and in some instances, makes me nuts, but I say that with a smile. The same can be said for the effort she puts into her job. A job she has had for over ten years. She is a loyal employee who never took time off, who always went the extra mile, and never said no to the hire-ups. She works for a billion dollar company with thousands of employees. She started as a temporary hire, worked hard and moved up the ranks to supervisor.
“…SHE WAS GOOD AT IT, AND THEY LOVED HER. THEN, SHE CAME OUT AS A TRANSGENDER WOMAN.”
It was only two years ago at her company’s holiday party where I spent the evening meeting, and then listening to the department heads and various VP’s of her company as they all raved about her. The night when these same people looked me in the eye and told me that my wife was going places within the company and that job security was practically guaranteed. We ate, danced, and laughed with her coworkers. All of her hard work noticed and appreciated. All for a job that she was never thrilled about doing to begin with, but she was good at it, and they loved her. Then, she came out as a transgender woman.
That was the beginning of her work place nightmare. At that time she had been in therapy for months and started taking hormones. Every weekend was full of new adventures watching my wife blossom into the woman she is today. Then, Monday morning would come again, and all I could do was try to console her. Sitting there I felt helpless. Watching while she put on a costume to go to work and play pretend. Often, I searched for something positive to say that would lift her spirits all while she cried her eyes out in my arms. It simply broke my heart. The human resources department of her company would not allow her to send out a mass email informing her coworkers of her change in pronouns and name. So she continued to go to work dressed as someone else and was forced to continue using a name that was no longer legally hers.
She dragged herself to that place every day for months. Waiting for the permission to come out of the miserable closet that her job put her in. What happened to the companies rising star? Did her job performance suddenly go down hill all because she discovered her true self? Watching from the sidelines was like watching a horrific accident in slow motion against my will. Just a few months prior to this my wife was on her way to the top. Feeling as if my hands are tied, day after day I stood at the door and told her to have a great day.
“WATCHING THEM TEAR HER DOWN OVER THE LAST YEAR HAS BEEN HORRIBLE.”
Many months later they eventually let her tell everyone her truth. Fighting tooth and nail the whole way with human resources. She was met with smiles and a welcome party. Her coworkers were terrific. I wish I could say the same for management. Here we are a year later, and the company’s future star is slowly burning out. They set her up for failure. Giving her the worst team in the company and overnight hours that most people couldn’t handle. They are systematically pushing her out. Hoping, I’m sure, that maybe she will just up and quit like most people in the company do when they have had enough. That would make it easier on them and this way they wouldn’t look like a bunch of bigoted ass-wipes. Watching them tear her down over the last year has been horrible.
After my wife was finally allowed to send her coming out email at work she took a week of vacation. She wanted to give everyone time to absorb the news and to give herself a break from the hell she was living in. She finally returned to work as her true authentic self. Yes her name was different, and her clothes were different, and she was now wearing some makeup, but inside she was still the same person. Still doing the same job she had been praised for doing all these years. Only now, she is getting pushed out of it simply because she is transgender. We looked into getting a lawyer, but the truth is as a transgender woman; my wife has no rights. The company is not doing anything illegal in the eyes of the law, and they would go to great lengths in order to justify their actions. This is one of the realities of being a transgender family, and we will fight through it, just as we have through everything else.