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My name is Diego Sanchez. I am a son, I’m a Georgia Bulldog tennis letterman, I’m a community leader
and activist, and I’m an openly female-to-male transsexual man.
I’m an openly transsexual man, and coming out to myself involved being aware of who I am on the
planet, how that fit into the community and with my family, and then finding language in a time that it
didn’t really exist.
I am the first openly transgender person to work on Capitol Hill, and it’s a tremendous honor that
Congressman Barney Frank hired me to do that. Being open at work is something that I think about,
but sometimes I forget. I’m certainly disclosed as a transgender person in Congress, but I forget that
because I what we call “pass,” because I look male and am male, I forget to remind people sometimes
that I was born female. I think it’s important to say that, when it’s appropriate, so that people behind
me, people younger than I, will have a safe road as they seek jobs and receive jobs.
On the topic of being discriminated against in seeking work and having work, I’ve experienced a couple
in my life. One was when I was being recruited by global headhunting firms, and as soon as they asked
about that special question: “Have you ever had another name, have you ever lived under another
name?” It’s a yes or no question, but when we say yes, because we should answer honestly, once they
look into our background it can become difficult if they don’t know how to reengage us to talk about
what does this mean? In another experience, I had worked for a company for more than ten years; I was
a global officer and was responsible for communications and global diversity. I created a global diversity
plan that included the words “gender identity” and “transgender”. The minute I put those words in
the plan I became targeted by the executive vice president of human resources, which is where you’re
supposed to go to be safe. The CEO and the COO of the company at the time were perfectly fine with
including transgender, were glad about it—but the HR person wasn’t. She’s no longer there, but that
plan still is, and they actually score 100% on HRC’s corporate equality index, even now.
Being open at work is really a gift. It’s a gift because I’m able to simply be who I am, be the most
productive I am, because I don’t use energy or time trying to shield a part of myself from other people
with whom I work. It allows them to learn about me, to accept me, and to accept others who come after
me. It’s a gift.
I know that every year, I need to go to the doctor. Fortunately, I have a good provider here in
Massachusetts who I still come back to to see. It’s not true for everyone. I find that when I have to go in
and get a mammogram every year, it’s always awkward to walk into that office, be the only guy in the
room, or maybe one other. Sometimes that guy’s waiting for a woman to come out; sometimes that guy
is a guy like me, waiting to go in. Those things are always still uncomfortable, but when you get into the
service provider area, they tend to know how to treat us. I’ve had good experience, but I know it’s not
true for everyone.
When we’re young we’re taught that our bodies are our temples. It would be nice if everything in our
lives contributed to let us honor our bodies that way. Everything from times with our family to our belief
and culture system to our school and employment and housing and healthcare…if all of those things as a
circle of life could let us embrace our bodies as the temples they are, we would have a better world. And
if we’re in a better world, we will improve it.