Almost exactly a year ago, I came out as a Transgender Woman. Based on my experience, I believe it is a lot more difficult to come out later in life, especially to your spouse on the same year you celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary! Luckily, the reception I received has been incredible and mostly positive. However, not 100% positive… Although, I never expected that everyone would accept my transition.
Not everyone in our lives will react well to a situation like this. Mainly because of how this change may impact their lives, values, beliefs, and morals. In fact, some family members and friends have stopped talking to me or distanced themselves from my immediate family because of my coming out. Of course, it hurts, but I do not let that stop me from finally being me.
Coming out is not an overnight process. I did not just wake up one day and decide that I would try and see what it would be like to be a woman. I have known almost all my life that I am transgender, and I even attempted to transition multiple times – only to be derailed by a lack of the financial resources required to do so, a lack of transgender awareness around me, and for fear of not being accepted by society, co-workers, friends, and family.
When I finally did come out, I was still afraid. But I could not pretend to be someone that I no longer was. Today, rather than allowing the fear of being ridiculed stand in my way, I go out into the world with my head held high and be exactly who I am – Laura!
I was especially afraid about coming out at work for fear of rejection – not due to any personal experiences or observations of discrimination at work, but due to a self-inflicted apprehension. Those fears were immediately assuaged after my meeting with Poly’s Chief Human Resources Officer to let her know of my plans to come out at Poly as transgender. She reassured me that she and her staff would do everything possible to make my transition at work as smooth as possible – and she did!
The HR staff, our CIO, my manager, and so many others have helped to make my transition at Poly an amazing experience. Poly made my transition at work much easier with their inclusive policies and practices. These included the designation of gender-neutral bathrooms in the office, offering global inclusivity and diversity programs, medical insurance options that include coverage for gender-identity specific procedures, employee resource groups such as LGBTQ+, webinars on topics pertaining to allyship, diversity and inclusion; and most importantly, a management team that proactively cultivates a supportive work environment.
Based on my experience, being my authentic self is liberating, rewarding, and empowering. It has given me a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment and I am finally presenting the real me, rather than the person I have pretended to be for decades. Now, I am proud of who I am and I am living every second of my life to the fullest. My experience is proof that it is never too late to live your life as your true self!
To my entire extended Poly family, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your support and encouragement; for your love, for demonstrating empathy, integrity, and compassion. Thank you for embracing diversity, inclusivity and above all, thank you for your humanity!
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” - Oscar Wilde