Question: Career difficulties

A reader asks…

I am in a situation where my career path makes it impossible for me to even consider hormone therapy or surgery. I can not leave my job for at least the next six years, and I do not really want to leave at all. How do people learn to cope with their physical bodies if they are unable to proceed with HRT or operations?

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on July 7th, 2011 at 04:00 pm

Category: questions 21 comments »

21 Responses to “Question: Career difficulties”

  1. silas delmar

    I have been asking these very questions. I can make changes in 4 yrs, but damn, that seems like a long time. I’m looking forward to the other anwsers you get.
    For right now I have basically two wardobes. They blend a little but for the most part, I sitck to more feminine- or expected- clothes at work (if you can call them that- 90% of my clothes are bought in the men’s department) . I don’t wear a binder at work so I look feminine more or less in whatever I’m wearing. I wear men’s underthings that make me comfortable, even to work- things that non one else sees.
    Outside of work, I wear what I feel most comfortable in- which is masculine of center. Unapologetically butch.
    I tried flexing my manly fashion muscles at work over the winter and it was NOT well received. It is what it is for now. I’m a solo parent with 2 great kids and my priority is to keep them fed and housed. It’s a job worth keeping- for the next 4-5 yrs while they are still home.
    I guess I have learned to compartmentalize my life for the time being. I am learning to choose my battles. I like my job, WANT to keep it, more than I want to debate my gender preferences while at work. But I will damn sure not be harrassed while spending the money I earn at that job, whether it makes salesgirls uncomfortable or not. i.e.Today my son and I bought new packs of underwear- from the same department. Later I had to verbally wrestle with the salesgirl at the mall when I went in and bougt men’s shirts and shorts- yes, I meant to get clothes from THAT side of the store and NO I don’t want to try on that pair of women’s skinny jeans you keep throwing over the changing room door…
    Not ideal, but necessary.
    And not everybody goes on hormones or has surgery. You are who you are- those are just tools for “enhancement.” I will have top surgery and go on T- without a doubt- but I will probably never have botton surgery. We’ve just got to be true to ourselves, whatever that means to us.


    Jessica MacGilvray replied:

    Perhaps if your career choices are more important than your gender presentation, you should wait until that is no longer true.


  2. Anonymous

    You take all the victories that you can.

    Personally I don’t know if it’s financial or not- but you should question taking a career path that keeps you from creating your true self.

    Every day I see my trans friends getting prescriptions, shots, surgeries – and I am jealous and sad. I am trying to save my relationship with my family by holding off on t and surgery, but the depression is hard to handle.
    I try to win the smaller battles – clothes I want, getting my chosen name on as many things as I can. It’s rough- but it keeps me going. I doubt I’ll ever be able to live with my body without wanting to change it. You just have to have enough hope for the future to press on and get there eventually.


  3. Leslie

    It isn’t easy at all, but the best way I’m finding of dealing with it is looking at work like a drag performance. For some reason, I feel it puts me in control, and gives a different reason for getting the wrong pronoun. The person you are at work isn’t all of you, it’s just a role.

    Hope that helps.


    Regen replied:

    This is so true, and helpful. I was really depressed about having to present a certain way around certain people, until i realized it was all a performance anyway. :)


  4. silas delmar

    I think of work as my drag show, too… Only my undies tell my truth.
    :-) It helps.


  5. Haley

    Here’s a site from someone who has decided never to transition, despite knowing they are transgendered. It’s not exactly your situation, but some of their coping mechanisms might prove useful.


    ian c. replied:

    hmm… that website strikes me as being super negative about, and really devaluing, people who do decide to transition…. it presents a “you should only transition if it is your only option besides suicide” viewpoint, which seems really contrary in its absolutism to a lot of what genderfork stands for. just a warning note for GF readers….


    Anonymous replied:

    I would definitely recommend against that site except maybe for the coping mechanisms. Be warned, ian c is very right about that site based on my reading of nearly the whole thing some time ago and if one dives into it deeper, there at least was some internalized transphobia there I believe (it is possible that the author has learned since then and removed it, which I really hope is the case but I don’t feel like diving into it to find out).


    ian c. replied:

    yeah, I read only one page of it, the “warning”… but felt it was so negative (& making me feel complicit in it for even reading) that I didn’t explore further. :(


    Jessica MacGilvray replied:

    It is important to balance information – both the positive and the negative, to evaluate both and come away with your own opinion, not just someone else’s.

    shaedofblue replied:

    I dunno Jessica.

    If some “information” is emotionally damaging fear-mongering, it could be wise to avoid it on another’s word.

  6. Dani

    I have personally faced this issue but not just with work. I am married and my wife, while tolerant to a point has been emphatic about where she stands in terms of transition – she isn’t lesbian and doesn’t want to be in a physical relationship with one. I had to do some real soul searching. I had been prepared to end a 10 year marriage over wanting to transition. In the end I re-examined the whole issue and found that I had embraced transition out of what I thought was the next logical step for myself. As it turns out I have found a happier place in the middle ground between male and female. I have partially transitioned, meaning that I have taken hormones and have some obvious female traits if someone were to see me naked but not enough to be noticeable when I’m clothed. I am happy where I am now and I honestly think that a full transition would have been a mistake and very damaging to the other aspects of my life that I value, like my wife and job. I am finding ways to integrate a more female presentation into my life so that I can honor that aspect of myself and live honestly without going so far as to shock everyone with the changes. So far its working for me and I am happier now than I have been in years of trying to transition. In my case I could never go past a certain point of transition and never really understood why I kept stopping. Your case may be different. My point is that you don’t have to transition fully, or at all in order to find happiness. Sometimes its ok to wait, or really examine your motives and whether you really want to live as the opposite sex for the rest of your life.


    Leslie replied:

    I completely agree! I have been slowly and circumspectly transitioning for the past two years. Taking my situation into account allowed my to transition quietly and in ways that left little room for others to bombard me with their opinions, while I learned to do only what I needed to make myself happy. It has been the best decision I could have made.


    Jessica MacGilvray replied:

    There is a real railroad effect in the trans community. “Oh, when are you transitioning? Let me help!” I keep feeling that we’re making transition seem inevitable to people who may not need or want to transition, if only we were not so helpful to them. There is a great deal to be said for being genderqueer, gender-variant, non-op, and proud just to be whatever it one is – without drugs and assistive surgeries. There is no one solution for everyone. I’ve gone through many transitions in my life… gender is just another one and my gender transition may never end up changing my official gender or socially mandated bathroom.


    Anonymous replied:

    You are very right Jessica.

    For some, it is just having a few close people who one is out to and who don’t misgender you and that is it. For some, it may mean asking everyone to use different pronouns. For some, it is only changing one’s name. For some, it is a complete social transition. For some, it is living part time as themselves whatever that may be. For some, it is the whole social and medical combination that so many talk about. For some, it is changing small things in their presentation. And so on. And combinations of these various items. In some ways, it is inaccurate to apply the word transition only to the full social and medical stuff that many talk about. Transition, to me, means changing one’s life in some way, big or small, to fit one’s gender identity better (basically, would include all of the things above).


  7. Blake

    I put my gender issues aside for about eight years while finding a job that would leave me financially stable, and at last in a place where I could transition on the job.

    I got through it probably mostly through denial, learning to focus on other things, prioritize. When it bothered me, I’d play video games where the protagonist was male, or read books about male protagonists I identified with. I didn’t dress sometimes male, because it just reminded me of what I was ignoring; personally I found it easier to put off the entire question than go part of the way.


  8. Anonymous

    I do not have a lot of words but I know how you feel! I grew up wanting to be a woman and was hindered by my community and family lifestyle.


  9. Nicholas

    For me, I take the time given to me and use it. If I’m not where I want to be, I work on other things in my life that need working on. I do a lot of soul-searching (man, never thought I’d use that phrase!) to understand who I am and what is important to me. I calculate everything, ask myself big questions and quell the storm in my mind with simple questions. It has really served me well, and I feel like the time has been well-utilized. Should I never reach my goal, I’ll know that I did everything I could, and despite the ongoing pain and struggle, I will have had no regrets.


  10. Anonymous

    One reason I moved towards the word ‘genderqueer’ was because trying to explain that I was not actively seeking to transition made other labels seem simply erroneous. (Trans, FtM, MtF- there’s this whole MOVING TOWARDS meaning inherent which just doesn’t fit me)

    Learning to cope? Mostly my coping mechanisms many moons ago began with firstly ignoring the physical. I wore what I wanted, I present roughly how I want and through the body doesn’t always fit I just ignore it. I prefer my mind anyway, and I can imagine whatever I like.

    These days I do find it rather entertaining that as a very effete sort of queer I can wear any patterns I like and it occasionally even reinforces the performances I present to a relatively ignorant arena (eg my job).


  11. danah gaz

    I cannot tell you what to do. Nor would I. I cannot presume to give you advice as I do not know you. However, I can tell you what happened to me, and what it made me feel like.

    For most of my adult life, I had a high-stress yet well paying career. When I was in my early twenties I attempted to transition while working, which did not work out at all. My employer was okay, but the responsibilities required me to be client facing during an extremely challenging and awkward stage of my life.

    I quit transitioning for about 10 years, so that I could continue my career. In the interim that followed, at least for me, was severe depression, drugs, destroyed relationships and ruin. Trading my transition for my career was the single worst mistake of my life.

    I won’t go back to that career, except to dabble when it suits me. I just can’t do it anymore. I’ve traded it for something far less lucrative, with far fewer responsibilities and almost infinitely more freedom to present as myself, and to pursue my transition. It’s hard, because I make about a quarter of what I used to, but between my partner and I we make it work. I am happier now than I can ever remember being.

    Maybe this will help. Maybe it won’t. Maybe you’ll think I’m crazy, or maybe this will be one of the most useful things you’ll ever read on the subject. I don’t know, but I offer it for what it’s worth.


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