Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How I Became Known as Adam at Work

So I got a job at an on-campus food place last week and the hiring forms required me to put my legal sex (it actually said sex, not gender) and name. Since I haven't had my name or gender marker changed yet, I had to put down female and my birth name. My managers and co-workers had no idea about me being trans besides me presenting and in a work uniform of a t-shirt and baseball cap it's not all that obvious anyway. My name tag was printed for me, and it had my birth name on it. I finally mustered up the courage to peel off my birth name from the tag and print a sticker that said "Adam" instead for my name tag last Thursday after my shift. I didn't work again until yesterday and passed without any issues but my co-workers and managers still called me by my birth name and pronouns. My manager even called me "sister" and I cringed but it was in passing and I didn't have an opportunity to correct her.

Today was different. It started out badly and I was worried my job might become something to dread very soon. My student manager noticed my Adam name tag and pointed it out quite loudly so that the full-time managers around could hear. "Adam?" he asked, laughing slightly. "What's up with that?". He kept pestering me about it and his tone of disbelief and something else (annoyance? disgust?) made me balk. I couldn't find the words to explain to him and my manager stepped in and said that it was fine what I did with my name tag. He dropped it then and didn't bring it up again for the rest of my shift. Later though, my one manager approached me and asked if she could ask me a personal question. The conversation was brief and went something like this:

Her: "Do you prefer to be called Adam?"
Me: "Yes."
Her: "Then that's what you'll be called".

I thanked her. I was grateful she had asked and honestly quite impressed with how it was handled. I didn't hear anyone call me by my birth name (or Adam, for that matter) for the rest of my shift, and I'm fine with that. I'd rather be called nothing than to be called my birth name once I've told someone to call me Adam. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out starting next week (I'm not working for the rest of the week due to a job interview). The only thing I noticed so far was that people kept using female pronouns, and I've corrected one or two people but I also don't blame them because I didn't tell my manager that I also prefer male pronouns. I think I'll just address it on a case-by-case basis for now and maybe mention it to my manager if it comes up But, it's a start, and it feels great and I'm thankful RIT has gone through the time to educate their full-time employees about LGBT issues. It makes my life a lot easier.

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