Trans*phobia in the Workplace



by Paul L. Grace-Neal

Oxon Hill, MD–I am an openly identified Trans* man but some folks don’t understand, don’t like, or don’t care about the Trans* experience.  Initially, I struggled through my transition striving to love me and be me but there are some people who acted maliciously and were extremely belligerent to the Trans* community.  These experiences were amplified on my job.

As a staff  member, I have been belittled so I know how others within the Trans* Spectrum may feel.  “Which do you like better?  Do you like being a man or woman better?” “But he’s a woman today, right?” “You can’t be a woman; you have breasts”.  “But you still got a “pussy”.  “Someone could rape me.” “I don’t want to see “dick” in the women’s room”.  These are all statements that I’ve heard from other staff. Our facility definitely needs another class on cultural competency.   

They just don’t get it.  The other day, a coworker even said that “she don’t want anyone with a ‘dick’ in the bathroom” with her.  “’Dicks’ belong in the men’s room and vaginas belong in the women’s room” regardless of their identity because it makes her uncomfortable.

Soooo… We finally get to the point where WE can take care of OUR business in the bathroom that WE identify but you are unwilling to do what you’ve gotta do and leave. Just like I’ve often stated, “All I want to do is pee”.  

And that is just the beginning.  I can’t say how many times I have been mis-gendered or how many times Trans* individuals have been fired for simply being Trans*.  Some insurance companies are not willing to pay for certain services pertaining to the Trans* community.  It’s like I finally get a job with great insurance and I still can’t get the services I need covered. 

A few individuals have acted like I have a contagious disease like Leprosy and don’t want to be around me.  One coworker told me that I was going to Hell because being Trans* was a sin. (Where do you find that in the Bible?). 

The one thing I can’t worry about is how my personal decisions are received by others.  Yes, I will be respectful but if my morals and values do not align with others, we will just have to co-exist accepting each other for our differences.  That is what makes a community a community:  Inclusiveness and Diversity.  I guess it’s our time to teach intolerant folks how to co-exist with us.


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