NYTimes: Transitioning in the workplace

Maybe I should give up on complaining about this, but it still irks me every time I see an article that is about women’s issues (and now we can add trans women’s issues) in the NYTimes in the Fashion and Style section. Articles about health, doulas, women, etc. It seems like every article that interests me is in this section and it pisses me off. Ok, rant over.
Despite the placement of this article, it’s actually a quite positive piece about trans women’s experience transitioning in the workplace.

Breanna L. Speed waited four years before announcing to her co-workers that she would not be Wendell anymore. She was concerned that the revelation that she felt more comfortable living life as a woman than in the male body she was born with would jeopardize her job at Hewitt Associates, an outsourcing company in Lincolnshire, Ill., where she had worked as a database administrator for seven years.
But since Feb. 26, 2007, when she walked into the office as Breanna (with a company ID and a workplace paper trail that carried her new name), Ms. Speed said she has received nothing but support.

What’s really great about the article is it puts the onus of guaranteeing a smooth transition on the employers and managers of the companies, rather than the employee themselves.

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6 Comments

  1. Louise
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t finish the whole article, but I had a hard time getting over the stupid image that accompanied the article, with one hairy man hand and one girly manicured hand poised over the keyboard.
    I always feel bad for reading the health, style, or life sections of papers cover to cover as compared to the manlier news sections (like World, Business) but I think your take is the right one: maybe if they weren’t segregating all the news about women…

  2. Flying Panda
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    You can always write to the Public Editor at the New York Times, Clark Hoyt, at public@nytimes.com. He serves as the ombudsman there. I just wrote an email now.
    I doubt an individual response would happen, but if enough people write every time they do that, perhaps he’ll look into the situation. Enough people complained about the sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton during the primaries that he devoted a column to it.

  3. Posted September 5, 2008 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    This article is really refreshing – except for the questionable placement and equally questionable illustration.
    There’s a strange disconnect between how corporate America is rapidly progressing in its willingness to value, protect and accommodate trans employees – while congressional leaders think prohibiting discrimination against trans employees would kill the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I expect this disconnect is because (1) it is social conservatives, not strong business opposition, that stand in the way of ENDA, and (2) small businesses are on the whole much less friendly than large ones with a big HR apparatus.

  4. William
    Posted September 6, 2008 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I know it seems like I’m complaining about what was otherwise a positive article, but there was not a single reference to transmen. Feministing correctly identified it about transwomen only. Without that, it’s not a piece on transitioning in the workplace, but a piece on MtF transitioning in the workplace. That’s fine, but to say otherwise renders us invisible and promotes the view that transwomen are only type of transgendered individual out there.

  5. Posted September 7, 2008 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    You all might be interested in this project I worked on for school a few months ago, about transitioning in white collar jobs. I guess we got scooped by the New York Times, but we did interview a transman about his experience. Unfortunately it’s a whole different experience for blue-collar workers, but it was heartening to see how well things turned out for the main subjects of our project.
    http://transgenderatwork.com/

  6. Posted September 7, 2008 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    You’re quite right, William – something I missed when I first skimmed the opening and commented. This absence of discussion or even mention of trans men is frustratingly common in popular media. You would think that reporters would want to make sure that they talked to both trans men and women to look the distinctive aspects of whatever story they’re working on – and there definitely would be some for this story.

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