Monday, September 17, 2012

See the World From Both Sides Now

What is there to say?  I am in tears.  My longtime readers will remember my tragic experiences of coming out and attempting to transition with my previous employer.  And what you read about my experiences was greatly summarized and diluted, because at the time; I was in fear of losing my job.  Yes, my previous employer monitored my personal life with the specific intent of finding cause to terminate me.  I would not be surprised if they are still monitoring me just out of the spiteful shrewish nature of the people who were tasked with “handling” me.  All I can say to you if you are still out there is: hi… hope you’re having a great life.  Boy, you sure taught me a lesson!

My previous employer, among other things, compelled me to provide all of the logistics of how to manage my transition (as I was the expert – I have reason to believe the people who laid out that expectation never even opened my painstakingly prepared “plan”).  I was asked how I would dress, what restrooms I expected to use, how my employer was supposed to handle it “when” other people in the office had a problem with me and “if” they decided to benevolently support my transition.  In short, I was asked to defend my right to have a job.  I was “asked” to segregate myself from all external contact with fellow employees; I had to remove people from my “friends lists” on all of my personal social network accounts.  I even had to relocate this blog (I was actually “asked” to stop writing, if you can believe that).  Of course, it took very little time for my “handlers” to figure out that I had just moved elsewhere, but there was little they could do as I had obeyed “the letter of the law.”  Still, I knew they were watching.

Given everything that happened (and this is not even including the changes in day to day relationships), it should be pretty obvious just how litigious of a person I am not.  The truth is, as is probably true of most women like me, I just wanted to be able to live my life in harmony with how I felt inside.  I had no interest in stirring the pot, in making a federal case, or of pushing the boundaries of gender law.  I just wanted to live.  So, I quit.  I started with a new company barely three weeks later (I am not stupid) for the same salary, better benefits, and far less responsibility.  And I repeat… boy, they sure taught me a lesson.

Fast forward six or so months to present day.  I told my boss a few weeks ago why he was giving me vacation at the beginning of September.  If you have been living under a rock for the last six months, you may not know that I just completed FFS and a few other procedures to facilitate my transition.  I told him that I was transitioning to female, that everywhere outside of work, I had been living as Kate for a very long time, and that the surgery I was about to have would make permanent my transition.  His response?  He started walking through the things we would need to take care of – changing my email account, my badge, my name plate, etc.  His one comment was that “if you’ve managed to perform like you have so far while going through all of that, it has nothing but good things to suggest about your future.  I have only ever known one you, and I support you 100%.”

Two days later, I met with HR.  I had only met this woman one time before.  Upon entering her office, the first thing she said was “I have never dealt with anything like this before.  You are a first for me.”  I heard a similar statement from my previous “HR” rep right before being raked over the coals for several weeks.  But what she said next set the tone for everything that has happened since: “But I have been doing a little research.”  She proceeded to ask me how my name would be spelled, whether I knew when the legal changes would be final, and what she could do to help me.  She stated her plan, asked if I could review the communications she was putting together to make sure I was comfortable with them, and proceeded to engage in an entirely cordial conversation about a whole slew of completely other things.  I was never asked what I would wear or what restroom I would be using.  

The communication she sent to our executive team, which was then cascaded throughout the organization, stated in very plain terms what was happening, what was expected of everyone (that I would be treated with respect, that correct names and pronouns would be used in reference to me, and that I would be using the appropriate facilities for my gender, etc.).  With the exception of my employee records (which understandably cannot be changed until the legal changes occur), the company actually updated everything from my email address to the nameplate on my office with my correct name.  All this happened while I was off lying around in Mexico.

I returned to work today.  You will not believe what happened.  As I entered the building, I passed a coworker.  She looked at me, smiling, and said… “Good morning.”  A short time later, I passed another colleague as I walked to my office.  Readers, you will not believe what he said.  He said… “Good morning,” and then proceeded to talk about operations with me for a few seconds.  I next passed one of the most religious people I have met there, and what she said to me was… it was just… um well… you be the judge.  She said “Good morning.”  Before I made it to my desk, I passed her a second time.  We laughed at the coincidence.  

What followed over the next two or so hours was a string of coworkers and office neighbors stopping by to welcome me back and to chat about my surgery, or to catch me up on what happened while I was out.  I heard everything from, “Wow, you look great,” to “How did it go?”  And regarding emails received bearing my new account name; you will not believe the responses I got.  I heard everything from… a response to my email, to… a “welcome back” and response to my email.  The horror!

Two of our directors in sales stopped by my desk to welcome me back… what nerve!  One even had the audacity to suggest I should take it easy and not overdo it so soon after surgery.  Can you imagine?

My boss sent me an email.  It said, “Welcome back.”  And that HR person: she sent me two notes today.  She actually had the gall to ask how I was doing and to echo the director’s admonition not to over exert myself.  Unbelievable.

I was stopped by security on my way out.  She wanted to tell me how proud she was for me, and what an awesome thing I was doing.  Can you believe that?

Seriously, I could not be more touched or more impressed by my company and its people.  One might almost think they value people and understand what is truly important in a business… results.

To my former employer: Boy, you sure taught me a lesson!

And those tears?  They are tears of joy.

Happy Monday, Friends!  Next time, I will fill you in on the surgery experience.
Peace and hippy talk,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Not In A Shy Way - The Way Is Mine

How did I get here?  How did I ever make it to this point in my life?  Just two nights from tonight, I will be lying in a hospital bed thinking ahead to the morning.  I will be facing the biggest step I have ever taken toward living my own truth.  There are so many thoughts flowing through my mind tonight, so many dreams, so many feelings looking for expression; and I am not sure how to put any of them into words.

As I have reflected over the last few days on the events that have led to this summit, I cannot help to think about the people who have been a part of the journey.  I am so, so blessed.  Making this pilgrimage is a nearly impossible undertaking; indeed, without the support of many wonderful people, I could never have hoped to make it this far.  I used to wish that I could have made the change sooner; that I never would have had to live in the prison of myself.  I used to lament my past.

As I looked this weekend at all of the people I love so much, I realized just how misguided those thoughts were.  I worship every moment of the life I have lived.  I relish every experience I have enjoyed, encountered, and endured (well, not the electrolysis.  I’m sorry Heidi, but that just plain sucks); because it was through each of those moments that I found each of you.

Trudi, Lisa, Kim, Tambra, Jen, J.T., Angela, Donna, Parker, Dee, Tawana, Tara, Sam, Henry, Paul, Jase, Michael; you are more than friends.  You have been the family I needed, and I hope we will always be together and always be family and always be friends.  Your support has been the bedrock of my / our transition and the source of great joy.  If one day, I can be there for you in even close to the capacity you all have been there for me; I will count myself lucky.  And Trudi and LIsa: I would be remiss if I did not add a special thank you to you two for being who you are, for allowing all of us space in your hearts and in your home.  Together, you are godfather and mother hen to us all... I won't tell who is whom. :)

Kendra, Jessica, Julie; what can I write that could ever express how important you are to me?  Julie, you have been a great friend, and your support has meant the world.  Kendra and Jessica, you girls are my everything.  I want you to know that no matter what may happen, no matter where we all go; you will always be my daughters, and you will always be first in my heart.  You have given me so much, and I look forward to you both growing into confident and happy women who get everything from life that you truly want and deserve.  I love you both so much.

And most importantly, Jamie: I would never have believed that one person could be so much to me.  You have stood strong and have unflinchingly believed in me and believed in our future, even when I had given up.  You held me up when all I thought I wanted was to lie down.  You were my footprints in the sand.  You have carried me when I could not or would not carry myself.  You belligerently showed me hope when all I saw was gray sky.  If we live another thousand years, I can never be all the things you have been to me in just a few.  But for as long as we live from this day forward, I will be living for you… for us.  It was not my strength that got us here; it was yours.  I love you.  And I will keep on loving you forever and ever on.

We are two days from history.  We are two days from a new chapter – the next great installment.  I will not hope to hurry those days away.  Life has taught me that every day is a day to celebrate, and a memory to be made.  And how lucky am I to have already amassed such amazing reflections?  And how lucky am I to have such a wonderful and loving group of friends and family with whom to share an entirely new set of memories?

And boobs... an entirely new set of boobs.

I would like to thank the academy... and to my manager and producers...

See you all on the other side!

Peace and chopsticks,
Katherine Lynn DeLong

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Political Rant

I avoid politics much the way I avoid news media.  I don't like people who think I should accept what they say without scrutiny.  I don't like being lied to (grammar apology).  I tried to watch Clint Eastwood's contribution to the RNC.  I got to the part when he implied culpability by the Obama administration for the fact that there are 23 million unemployed in America.  I don't know if that's a real number, or just a fancy statistical amalgamation.  I suspect the latter.

Allow me to pause.  I am not an Obama fan.  I am not a democrat.  I do not think he is any better for this country or for my needs than any other president I have witnessed (why else is it still "illegal" for my wonderful friends to wed?).  I also know better than to fall for yet another pack of lies.  I would agree he didn't fix it, but can you really expect me to believe that he caused it?  Come on.  And as for how you plan to fix it...

Seriously?  You whine about the abuses of government, about overspending, about medicare fraud, and welfare dependency.  You complain that 23 million people are unemployed.  You claim we need to start over.  And what is the cure?  What is your master plan?

Fill the nation with even more unwanted children and keep the families who actually want to be from becoming.

That is right, stop abortion and gay marriage, and with a simple praise jesus you wipe out the welfare problem, unemployment, national debt, AND the piteous lack of state sponsored school prayer.  Yup, by filling the country with accidental infants, smiting those nasty queers, and throwing in a couple new tax breaks for your cronies, you've solved all our problems.

Break out the bubbly boys.

And, oh by the way, I am sick and fucking tired of this attack on religion bullshit.  This god responding "I am not allowed in school" nonsense.  Because the constitution provides adequate protections for people of all (and no) faiths to coexist without persecution, and because "We the People" do not recognize an official state religion; that does not mean your god is under attack.  That does not mean your religion is being persecuted.  At most it means you are being prevented from persecuting others.  It seems awfully pathetic of a god, that the lack of school board endorsement would keep him from entering a building.  No one has suggested that your god is not allowed in school.  We have simply stated, as is consistent with our constitutional mandate, that we will not force your god on anyone through official endorsement, i.e. state sponsored worship.  Grow up.

I believe in limited government.  I believe that "limited government" means that people stay out of my shit.  In return, I believe I should stay out of other people's shit.  I do not believe in welfare, corporate or otherwise.  I have had to survive on my own under circumstances that would cause most to surrender.  I won't ask you to walk a mile in my shoes; I don't believe you could even put them on.  You question my resolve while I live despite your condemnations.  You may be louder, but I will always be stronger.  I believe in two things: live, and let live.

When a government's aim is to legislate morality and perpetuate it's own necessity; that government is wrong for the people.

This nonsensical rant is brought to you by 100 proof Vodka, dark cherry Fresca, and HuluPlus clips.

And saltines.

I like those.