Question: Should I Pretend to be cis for Job Interviews?

Z asks…

I’m having a very hard time trying to find a job.

I’m ftm and pre-T and very short so I definitely don’t pass as male. I’ve been out of work for 3 months, I’ve had 4 interviews, and no offers. I’m considering just pretending to be a cis female next time I have an interview so I can hurry up and get a job before I starve.
That’s how I got my last job but I had to deal with being called the wrong name and pronouns (which is why I don’t have that job anymore, I kind of had a mental breakdown and walked out in the middle of a shift).

I don’t want to deal with that again, but I need money like right now….

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on June 19th, 2015 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 3 comments »

3 Responses to “Question: Should I Pretend to be cis for Job Interviews?”

  1. Kerrick

    What industry are you jobseeking in, and where? Do you have some skills you can use telecommuting, so even if they think you’re female you don’t have to spend too much face-to-face time dealing with it? Like content writing and editing? Is there a local LGBT job support org in your area? SF has the TEEI, and if you live near a big city, you might find something similar there. Is there a retraining program you can sign up for so you can get some skills that give you more choice about where you work and who you work for, preferably while you earn money? I’m thinking about job training programs that will get you a little money while helping you change careers into something you can do where you set the rules. I hate to say everybody should do tech right now because bubble, but web design work tends to be more flexible, for instance. You could learn bookkeeping and work mostly from home or take private clients.

    The downside of starting a career where you make the rules and be your own boss is, unfortunately, the money isn’t guaranteed, and neither are the benefits. On the other hand if you are scraping by with a bookkeeping client or two and you can put on your resume “bookkeeping contractor” instead of “unemployed,” it also puts you more in demand and into a position where you can set the terms of your job more easily. Someone else who then wants to hire you as an office manager will have to weigh “this is a person whose gender I find confusing” against “this is a person who has in-demand skills I can’t easily find elsewhere, and also they have other options in life and are clearly going somewhere on their own.” For lots of people the gender thing will become a secondary issue, or not an issue at all.

    The other consideration is once you are in the job and past the 90-day probation, depending on the state you live in, if you then come out as trans at work, you may have some legal protections. Those might give your employer pause before they fire you or make your life too difficult.

    This is a tough spot in the road. In order to be true to who you are, you have to be able to BE at all, and that means putting food on your head and a roof over your table or vice versa. But some days being someone other than yourself feels pretty close to not being. I’ve definitely been there. I’m super fortunate to have credentials and work in an industry and location where being trans is if not a total non-issue then an occasional asset. But it’s not that everywhere, and many many props to all those struggling hard to get by. You are loved and needed. Please keep going.


  2. Riley Alexandr

    If you find that you MUST pretend to be cis, perhaps you could go by a more gender neutral nickname. For example, if your legal name is Alexis, you could go by Alex. Georgia becomes Georgie or George. Charlotte becomes Charlie. Samantha becomes Sam or Sammy. You get the picture. Good luck, friendo! *hugs*


  3. David

    I can’t speak for every employer, but there are basically four things I care about when I’m hiring:

    * Is this person competent?
    * Is this person going to use their time effectively?
    * Is this person going to get along well with my customers?
    * Is this person going to get along well with the rest of my staff?

    I don’t really care whether a person is a smoker or a non-smoker, or what sports they like, or their race, sexual orientation, or gender. BUT if a person spends a lot of time smoking when they are supposed to be working, that’s a problem. If someone ends up talking all day about soccer and doesn’t get their stuff done, that’s a problem. Similarly, if someone spends a whole lot of on-the-clock time telling customers/co-workers about the joys and sorrows of their identity, that becomes a problem even if I admire and respect their identity.

    I want employees who are honest. In an interview, if I think you’re hiding an essential fact about yourself I’m less likely to hire you. It’s not the fact that you’re “different” that I care about. It’s how you deal with differences in the workplace that matters to me.

    The thing is, I have some influence over how my employees treat one another, but I have no control over what customers say. If I have the feeling that you’re not going to be able to handle a negative comment from a narrow-minded customer, I might not hire you.

    Without doubt, some employers are bigots who are only going to hire white cisgender straight people who play golf and drive a late-model luxury car. But most are not. By and large, I think you just need to come across in an interview as a person who knows they’re different AND knows how to make other people (customers, co-workers, vendors, etc.) feel comfortable with that difference. Show me that you have a sense of humor. Show me you can deal with the ups and downs of work life, no matter what their cause.

    Here’s my best advice. In the interview when I ask you, “tell me about a difficult situation and how you handled it,” answer with a true story about how you responded to someone’s objections to your gender in a graceful and sophisticated way. You’ll confirm what I was guessing about your gender, and more importantly you’ll show me that you know what to say when someone is upset that the shipment of widgets they were supposed to receive last week is lost at sea.


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