August 26, 2014

Job Hunting While Transgender

Returning from Gen Con meant a return to reality, and that meant thinking about teaching again. Granted, I still have money left from my severance; but (a) it’s not as much as should have been because it was taxed as “bonus” pay not salary, and (b) it will run out by December in any case, and (c) teaching jobs start in cycles, and the next one won’t be until January.

I am not looking for full-time work at this point (not that I would turn it down if such an elusive beast reared its head). But working as an adjunct on a per-class basis for a community college is a nice way to score a little extra money and make that severance stretch out another month or two. Adjuncting will also afford me the time to keep current with my writing jobs, such as they are.

Finding a position in teaching in 2014 is difficult in any case. But mine is complicated by other factors, of course. This was the problem I was dreading, the one that transitioning while at my former, thought-I-was-secure job was supposed to help me avoid. To wit: I’m living as Alison, and I’m in the middle of a legal name change; but my government ID still says Him, as do my college transcripts. So whom do I apply as?

Obviously, my heart says I apply as Alison. No turning back. I haven’t spent a single day as Him in over two months. That is a part of my identity I have left behind, and every day I find another small way to scrub it from my life. I don’t pass, I probably never will pass, my height alone guarantees it, not to mention my build, my voice, and everything else; but even if I teach as an out and proud trans woman, I’d still be teaching authentically, as myself.

Practicality and responsibility say that I apply as Him and work as Him and just “suck it up and deal with it,” as someone so bluntly put it yesterday. I need a job, and in this day and age being trans is still something that carries an enormous stigma. This may be what I need to do to get by. Besides, going into any interview as Alison is likely to kill my chances in any case. That’s just the way of the world we live in. Being trans is more acceptable than it used to be, but a lot of schools aren’t  going to want to risk putting off their paying customers (the students) by putting a tranny at the head of the classroom. Why do that when they could play it safe? I’m more likely to get a job as Him.

But honestly, emotionally, I don’t know how I would handle returning to Him on a daily basis. Just thinking about it last night gave me a panic attack and reduced me to tears. That’s the curse of dysphoria. Two months of freedom, two months as my Self is all it has taken for me to freeze up at the thought of having to put on a shirt and tie again, to be called Mr. Hudson all day. It’s not me; it never was, but I was trapped in it for all my life so I dealt with it. When I broke down last year it was precisely because I couldn’t deal with it any longer. Now that I’ve had my taste of freedom, can I really go back in the cage?

I don’t know what to do. All the people in my support structure tell me to take the practical route, to suck it up, to be him. But I don’t know if I can. Every step I’ve taken since I got out of the hospital last April has been a step away from the burden of Him. I just don’t think I’m strong enough to shoulder it again.


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  • So, can you imagine a teaching job where being trans would be an asset?

    And are there people in your support structure who support your heart’s dreams and will help you achieve them instead of helping you to fit in and make a living?

    Maybe it will take a bit longer to find a job than if you applied as “Him”. But I’m sure it’s possible … and since your name change is already under way, why not start now to live as yourself in your worklife as well as your private life? When your new name is official, you’re going to have to do it anyway. 😉

    • Honestly, there’s no realistic job where being trans would be an asset. I suppose somewhere there’s a sensitivity training coach position where the first lesson would be “I’m your teacher, and I’m trans, and here’s why that’s okay .. ” But I am not that kind of teacher; my experience is in college composition.

      I am in agreement with you 100% about working as I live. That’s why it’s so hard to hear even people deep within my support structure basically saying “suck it up, buttercup, and do what you need to do to get paid.”

      • Well, what about Autobiographical Women’s Writing, or Gender Studies, or stuff like that? There’s lots of gender / gay / trans related topics where you could teach people to write about their experiences. Maybe you could offer online writing classes, webinars and e-books. Sure, it would take some time and effort to get started, but it might be fun and you could do meaningful work and earn money while being authentically You.

  • Truly, I have to agree with your support group.

    If you had made different decisions before last year, maybe you just continue as you have over the summer, and wait for the writing jobs to pick up steam. But you have 3 small people to be responsible for, so putting on your big girl(or boy) pants is just what you may have to do. Even people who are not in your situation have to take jobs that don’t feel “authentically” them, either because that’s what’s available, or as a result of past life choices. Yes, your choice to live trans make it more difficult, maybe. Will it be forever, probably not. But without an independently wealthy relative, it may just be the temporary reality.

    • And that’s one factor that’s influencing me, yes. But this isn’t just about taking a job I’d hate. This would literally be about devaluing my self for the sake of a job. If I so easily go back to Him the moment things get tough, then how honest, how authentic is this whole experience?

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