Recently, a friend of mine who is in the process of transition came out at her job and had a good experience. She received support from her managers and coworkers, a situation that all of us want for ourselves, but something we don't always get. Regardless, I am very happy for her and anyone else out there that has the same experience.
For 24 years I have been on the streets of New York City working as a photographer. It is more than just a job; it’s a career to say the least. A career that I am proud of, one that has given me 12 NY Emmy nominations and 3 wins. More than that, it is a career that has defined who I am even more than the 10 years I spent as a firefighter.
"AS I WORK MY WAY THROUGH MY TRANSITION, THE QUESTION IS, HOW DO I TRANSITION MY CAREER?"
As I work my way through my transition, the question is, how do I transition my career? There is something to say about moving to a new job after you transition, one where no one knows about you and many have done that. Though I can change my current job, and chances are that will happen because of other reasons like professional growth, I would still want to stay working in the field that has become my career. The challenge for me is being able to transition without having to lose my professional self.
As much as we don’t want people to treat us differently as we transition, I am all too aware of the fact that in many cases people do treat us differently. I’ve had to watch another person in my line of work very publicly experience this problem. Though she did get some support from colleagues in our business, she also had others who spread rumors and hateful stories about her. Her career took a huge hit; all because she chose to save her own life and be the person who she was born to be. Her experience is always in the back of my mind as I navigate this question. Will the same thing happen to me? I don’t feel safe in that respect at my current job, but I also can’t stand still in my life.
"BECAUSE WE CHOOSE TO AFFIRM THE PERSON THAT WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DOES NOT CHANGE OUR EXPERIENCE OR OUR ABILITY TO DO OUR JOBS. "
I have another friend who successfully transitioned and kept her career as a microbiologist. She is doing amazing, and I think why not me? Why not any of us who want to transition and keep our careers? Because we choose to affirm the person that we have always been does not change our experience or our ability to do our jobs. In fact in some ways it makes us better.
There are people in our community who make it a part of their transition to change careers and leave them back in the past with their deadname. That is not always an option for someone in my particular situation or others like me. The awards I have won, and the reputation I have made for myself, they are not things that I want to just leave in the past.
Everyone’s transition is different and there is no single answer to this question. I look back at my 24 years of doing something that has its moments, but that I still absolutely love. I do not accept that in order to be my true self I have to give up that history. No one should have to do that if they don’t want to. I know this all depends on the people I work with, but I should not give them power over my choices. The power is with me. The power is with you it's your life and your transition.