Tuesday, 23 April 2013

30 Days of Trans - Day 22

Day 22 - Do you feel being trans holds you back from your career choice
Tuesday 23rd April

I work as a software engineer. More specifically as a test engineer. Pre-transition being trans never held me back as the industry is still a male dominated one and I was seen by everyone that knew me as a male.
When I decided to transition and that I would do it while continuing to work at my current company I didn't see that it would be an issue. I was working on a project that I liked, doing work I enjoyed and was privileged to work with one of, if not the, best teams I've been part of since I graduated. Throughout my career I have been lucky to work with some amazing people.
As soon as I made the decision to transition though and had agreed a timetable with the HR team at the office I'm based then some interesting career opportunities presented themselves.
I became aware of two jobs that would have been high profile as they would have required dealing with a lot of customers. I considered applying for at least one of the jobs as we were going through a redundancy process at the time. As I thought about it I decided that applying for a new position and then transitioning wasn't going to be a good thing. Fifteen months on from that and I've finished on the project I was on and have spent several months working in another of our offices and have had to come out as trans to someone that I used to work closely with. Today I even spoke to someone that I've known for years but I don't think that they realised who it was they were talking to and didn't actually ask (I'd answered someone else's phone while they were away from their desk).
As far as the company I work for I don't see being trans holding back my career.

While the redundancy process was going on I had two interviews. I can't say for definite but there is a possibility that the first interview that I went for being trans had some effect. The position I thought I was being interviewed for I could do the job in my sleep. After answering a number of questions related to the job I was being interviewed for they started asking questions about a role that hadn't been mentioned to me. I wasn't prepared for that and so probably didn't give my best impression. In the end I got turned down for the job which surprised both me and a colleague that had been offered a job by the same company.
The second interview went better, I actually knew one of the interviewers as I'd worked with her previously. At the end of the interview I was told that the managing director liked to interview potential job candidates before they were offered a position. He wasn't around that day so I was asked to go back for a second interview.
The return visit was a lot more relaxed and I was able to give a much better impression as I was more prepared. Still at the end of the interview I was left feeling as if I had provided free consultancy to them. Again I was turned down for the position but this time the reasons given were that they didn't think I was suitable for that role but if a more appropriate one came up then they would consider me.
Several months later I was contacted by the recruitment agency as a job had come up at the same firm and they wanted to know if I was interested, in fact they said my name had been specifically mentioned. Unfortunately I wasn't in the position to take up the role and so turned down the interview. In the case of this company I definitely don't thing being trans held me back. Demonstrating that I was capable and knew my subject was a better indication of my potential as far as the company was concerned.
At the moment I don't see myself moving companies. There are a lot of opportunities if I want to find them. Developing my career is something that I can do. The company also has a diversity and inclusion programme which makes it a good place to work, especially as policies with regard to trans staff develop.
If anything I think my career is actually better than it used to be, partly because I'm picking up new skills and partly because since transitioning I can be myself and don't have to divert some of my energy to being what other people expected me to be and developing my career in accordance with that. Now I can develop my career in the way that I want to develop it.

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