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And we always made it work, no matter how much it did hurt…

And we always made it work, no matter how much it did hurt…

On the eve of the 364th day of vagina ownership, I feel that a update is required. However, I don’t really know what more to say. Once the initial healing was done, the dilations tapered down, things just got sort of normal. 

Things I’ve learned about having a vagina: 

  1. Unlike your dick, it has more than 3 smells. Dick has a tendency to smell like one of a couple of things. Freshly showered, Dude you need a shower, and “OMG WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING WITH THAT THING?”  A vagina has approximately 15 or more smells. I know what only some of them mean. 
  2. Bacterial Vaginosis is a thing. A thing that I don’t like.
  3. Yeast is used for more than just making bread and beer.
  4. Make sure the toilet paper is actually free of your, uhh, folds before you stand up.

Other than that, things have been fine. My underwear fit for the first time in the last 18-20 years. My pants fit better. I bought a swimsuit that I neither hate or love, which as I gather, is success. I still don’t have hips, nor a butt. No one gets it all. 

Over that period, I lost my newest and last form of virginity. As if I was 15 and in high school, I thought it was with the person I would die with, but months later I found that was not true. Even with my best efforts. I made Lloyd Dobler look like a fucking amatuer, and for a fleeting time I thought I did it, but it was all to no avail. Just like the rap guys misogynistically say that you can’t make a ho a housewife, the same applies to politicians. 

It’s been a year of triumph, it’s been a year of utter failure. I honestly can’t tell you that I’m better today mentally than I was a year ago. That has nothing to do with my genitals though. I can tell you, without question, I’d rather be in San Francisco tonight, on the eve of this surgery all over, than here in Kentucky.  I’ll never forget the feeling of waking up that morning, not tucking, not caring. The thought that nothing else really mattered today. That feeling of waking up in post-op. A brief bit of terror, asking the nurse if the surgery happened, then tears of joy after she told me that it went just fine. 

All the exams, all the “frog legs,” all the poking, prodding, the bleeding, a month long period, all those pads, the catheter, the miralax. All worth it. So worth it. There were moments of fear, of terror. Not that I had made a mistake, but that something was wrong and I was going to end up with some complication. Pictures taken from awkward angles, texted to my surgeon and the replies always similar “Looks fine, just be patient.” All the while thinking, “Bitch, you don’t know me. I don’t do patient.”

I would do it 100 times over. There’s not really a good way to explain how much better my life is because of it, but it has changed my life in a way that only a trans person can understand. A huge source of dissonance between my mind and my body corrected after a lifetime of conflict. 

From the days of being a 15 year old “boy” laying on the bed, with hands not on the genitals, but on the spot where the vaginal canal was supposed to be, imagining what it was like. Thinking of what I believed I was supposed to have from the womb. Through the years of searching for “sex change operations” in the back corner of the all-boys school computer lab. All of the years of thinking about being a girl and then being overwhelmed with shame and feelings of filth. To today, where I am the woman, ready to stomp on anyone that says otherwise, it’s been a long wild ride. 

The fight for my basic rights as a human are not over, but I have the body. I have the confidence. The confidence to tell anyone who thinks I’m anything but the woman to go fuck themselves. It’s liberating. 

Adventures in Mental Health

Adventures in Mental Health

I wanted to write this up before I forget any of the finer details. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to take my mental health very seriously. With the amount of stressors that I have experienced in the last 2 years, I’m not ashamed to say that depression has been a problem. When you also consider that one of my best friends committed suicide about 10 months ago after losing his battle with depression, it becomes even more important to me. 

Over the last year, I’ve been working with my family doctor and my psychologist to find a balance. My GP has tried adjusting my dosages, as well as trying different drugs, to no avail. Both at separate times suggested that I see a psychiatrist that had more specific knowledge on psychotropics. I was recommended to a center that was staffed with both nurse practitioners and doctors of psychiatry. I called and set up an appointment for this past Thursday. 

As I normally do when visiting a new doctor, I downloaded their intake paperwork completed it a couple days prior to the appointment. Nevertheless, I arrived about 13 minutes early for my 10:15 appointment. I signed in at the front desk and took a seat. The first thing I noticed was how busy the place was. The building being a repurposed house didn’t have a large waiting room and it was full. Additionally, some of the people waiting had restaurant style pagers. 

10:15 came and went as I amused myself on the internet as usual. As 10:30 came, I called my

Seriously?
Seriously?

manager to let him know that I would be coming in later due to a doctor’s appointment. At 10:38, I finally got up and went back to the window to see if they had forgotten about me. She motioned towards the check-in book. 

“I signed in at 10:03. The sticker I signed has been peeled off”, I replied. 

With no apology or explanation, she took my paperwork and a copy of my ID, then provided me with a pager of my own. I sat across from a mother and daughter, who were waiting for a 10AM appointment. She was finally paged at 10:52. In less than 5 minutes, her appointment was over. I’m thinking, “Seriously? SERIOUSLY?” in my best Meredith Grey voice.

About that time, I get called and simultaneously vibrated as my table for four is ready.. Oh wait, this is a mental health office, not Texas Roadhouse. So I meet my new person. His name is, well, we’ll call him Steve. So Steve invites me into his office. The first thing I notice is that it’s like my office at home. A mess. Stuff everywhere. Which, I can’t cast stones in glass houses, but hey! I don’t see patients in my office. We just play video games and post passive aggressive tweets. I digress. 

He introduces himself, and we’re exchanging pleasantries. He mentions that there’s an Addison in his family, but that Addison is a boy. I told him that a hundred years ago, Addison was primarily a masculine name, but in recent decades has become more popular as a woman’s name. I also mentioned that I had a non-binary/agender friend and their name is Addison as well. This is where things started to go sideways.

 “What is non-binary?” he asks. 

At first I think he’s joking. Then as I look at his face, I can actually see the puzzled look on his face. It’s the same face my seven year old makes when I explain something technical. It’s not dramatically different than my dogs cocking their heads to one side when you say, “Who’s a good dog?”

I explained that there are people who don’t identify with either male or female, that there are people who are fluid between genders and then some, like my friend, who are agender. They don’t identify as any gender. I got the feeling that, maybe.. I was his first trans patient. Somehow, it feels slightly unfair that this guy brings in at least $75-100 an hour, but I have to educate him on things that he could find on google. 

Next, Steve starts with a brief history. I give him the broad strokes, my laundry list of medications. What we’ve tried, etc. I always like when a professional asks me, “Why such a low dose of X?” To which I’m thinking, “Uh, IDK. That’s what the doctor told me to take???” 

Anyway, he asks about family history. I tell him what I know, in terms of mental health. Then we go into alcoholism and addiction. I explain about my father and his sobriety up until his passing. He pushes deeper about the rest of the family. 

“Well, I was raised catholic, so that should give you an idea”, I quipped. 

He doesn’t get the joke and continues to push on it. I explain that if you go AA’s “Twelve Questions Only You Can Answer” page, many of my family members would have fallen on the spectrum at some point in their lives. 

Finally, moving on, I’m asked about any past surgeries. Mind you, all of this was listed on my intake paperwork. I tell him that I had GRS in May and then Breast Augmentation in November. That I had my wisdom teeth out about 16-17 years ago but other than that, no other significant medical interventions.

I explain that I’m having a number of issues aside from just typical depression. My problem list: 

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Issues staying on task
  • Constant exhaustion, lethargy, and malaise. 
  • Nervous Anxiety
  • Clenching my jaw subconsciously when I’m awake.

Then we take, what feels like, a drastic course change back to Transtown™.  First is a question that’s so hard for a trans person to answer, at least in the first couple years. 

“Are you still,” motioning with his hands towards his crotch, “…. um… male down there?”

I shot him the kind of look that only a mother would give to her kids when they’re out of line and replied, “I was never male.”

It's called a penis.
It’s called a penis.

As he stumbled over his words and tried to make a coherent sentence, I asked if it was medically relevant to my mental health? Mind you, if he had read my intake paperwork, or had any familiarity with trans patients, he’d have know without asking. He said it was, because some of the drugs have sexual side effects, including erectile dysfunction. 

And once again, I had to come back to Trans 101 and explain that a decent percentage of trans women who are post-op or non-op have issues with getting or maintaining an erection. Because of the use of anti-androgens, such as Spironolactone, our testosterone levels are typically lower than the average cis woman. I explained that mine were normally somewhere in the 8-12 range, on a scale of 8-55 for cis women, cis men having a much higher range from ~300-1000 (ng/dL). 

I went on to explain that there was a much better way to ask those questions to a trans person. I suggested, “Do you still have a penis?” Or even better “Do you still have testicles?” 

From that point on, I pretty much checked out on this dude. Especially when he started to show me facebook pictures of his sister’s lesbian wedding on his phone. Because, you know I’m a lesbian, so we must all lesbian together. Or something. 

In the end, he had two cardboard boxes of some drug called “Trintellix” of which he rummaged through and gave me two sample bottles. He basically claimed it to be the best stuff on the planet and that a number of his patients had seen improvements in 1-3 days. Which is odd, because my understanding of SSRI’s is that they usually take a couple weeks to build up a normal level in your system. He wants to see me back in two weeks.

Sorry, I think I’ll skip it. 

And there is grace within forgiveness…

And there is grace within forgiveness…

But it’s so hard for me to find

Today was a good day. I felt useful for a change. In working with Chris Hartman, Executive Director of Fairness Campaign, we’ve always discussed ways that we might take my story of discrimination and harassment at AT&T more public. Today, I made a speech at the Kentucky Fairness Rally in the middle of the Capitol. The media was there as well as tons of supporters from all walks of life. I wanted to let AT&T know why Statewide Fairness is so important. Because if they’re not going to consistently enforce their own non-discrimination policies, then they should be held accountable. That they have an obligation to all of their employees. “DO BETTER,” I say.  

While the news coverage didn’t include any of my actual speech, I did get a couple seconds on TV. You can see it here.

For the sake of posterity, I want to share my actual speech. I know I deviated in a couple places, but only in phrasing. 

Hi, everyone! My name is Addison Newton, and I’m proud to be here in the capitol as we continue to fight for both LGBT and workers’ rights in Kentucky!

I’m also proud to say that my union, the Communications Workers of America, has been fighting for my rights too! When I came out as a transgender woman at my job at AT&T, I faced a lot of difficulties. Even though my company has pretty good LGBT policies, what I learned is that no one in my workplace really knew how to implement them or had any idea what being transgender meant.

For the next several weeks, AT&T scrambled to figure out where I should go to the bathroom and how to explain to other employees about my transition. It was embarrassing, demeaning, and it shouldn’t have been that difficult. As time progressed, I encountered misgendering on a regular basis, by both staff and management alike. The general manager of my office vehemently refused to refer to me as female. Intent on having me fired, she conspired with another manager who followed me around town. Throughout all of this, I’ve had constant support from my CWA Local 3310.  As I saw how the company responded, I decided that I wanted to help other members and I became a job steward.

I’m very proud to be a member of CWA. The leadership has stood by my side every step of the way. We’ve worked tirelessly to hold my employer accountable and sending a message that each and every employee’s needs and safety are truly valued. Most likely, I wouldn’t be here today if not for the support of my union siblings. I want to thank them, especially local vice-president, Larry Gardner, who is here with me today.

However, even with the power of the CWA behind me, fighting for ALL workers’ rights, it’s still not easy. Anti-transgender laws like Representative Nelson’s bathroom bills make it harder and more dangerous for transgender people to live our daily lives and meet our most basic needs. My difficulties with AT&T also illustrate how necessary it is for Kentucky to pass a Statewide Fairness Law. Because even the most well-intentioned corporate policy is no good if the company refuses to enforce it. A Statewide Fairness Law ensures that all businesses in our commonwealth are held to the same standard of respecting the basic dignity of all people, including our LGBT community. So, in closing, I would like to ask AT&T to join the 200 other Kentucky businesses in the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition!

I’m a proud transgender woman, union member, and Kentuckian fighting for Fairness for all!

I’m not ready to make nice

I’m not ready to make nice

The last few weeks at work have been frustrating. I started trying to get HR to come around the bend, but they are just as tone deaf as ever. All I ever get back from them is either “Our investigation is still in process” or “The issue has been addressed and appropriate action has been taken.” 

What appropriate actions are those? They can’t tell me. It’s all confidential. There’s no sort of transparency, not even a semblance to be seen. I still have my EEOC and Fairness Ordinance complainst being investigated outside the company. I met with the investigator recently. I shared details about the events outlined in the complaint, along with witness information so that he could contact them. He said he was going to request more information from the company. I’m not sure when that’ll be concluded.

Meanwhile, my union representative and I are going to meet with people from the Fairness Campaign and ACLU of Kentucky next week. We’re going to talk about other options and avenues that we might pursue. I’m open to any suggestions that they think might help. I was hoping to keep this contained within the company, but I feel like my hand has been forced. My company wants me to sit down and shut up, but when the only option they’re providing is to shut up and take it or to quit. The only thing I can think of is the chorus from a Dixie Chicks’ song.

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should.

It’s true. If I’m going out, I’m going to do all I can to make everyone be known that AT&T doesn’t care about their transgender employees, based on my personal experience. I shouldn’t have to quit because people are dicks. Just like the Michael Bolton said in Office Space, “Why should I change my name? He’s the one who sucks.” Everyone who has ever worked with in the past knows that I’m a pretty low key person, I come in, put my head down and do my work. But I’ve never been in a bad work situation before. 

People want to act like I’m blowing things out of proportion, or I’m too sensitive. “Have a sense of humor”, they say. Don’t deny me my existence and my right to live a life free of people trying to legislate my life. I’m hoping that my company will pull their heads out of the sand and do something more significant. However, it looks more and more like I am going to have to force their hand for that to happen.  I’m tired. I feel defeated. I’m still fighting. 

“Don’t take any guff from these swine.”  —Hunter S. Thompson

This is not a swan song, but it goes….

This is not a swan song, but it goes….

So this morning while I was catching up on Facebook, a friend asked what are the best places to “people watch?” This was part of an assignment for a class she’s currently taking.

Which got me to thinking. As a person who has always been very observant and generally fairly situationally aware, I have spent a lot of time watching people. Since transitioning, those skills have become more valuable. Being able to gauge a room and know who’s paying you too much attention might be the difference between being accosted and not. It reminds me of a scene in The Bourne Identity, where Jason is explaining to Marie about his skillset.

I come in here, and the first thing I’m doing is I’m catching the sightlines and looking for an exit. I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that?

So while I’m not quite on his level, it did remind me of how my brain works.

I started typing out a reply to my friend, initially mentioning mall food courts. I was trying to think of other places, when I remembered being in San Francisco in May.

The Monday following my surgery, I was scheduled for my follow-up for packing removal. While sitting in the waiting room, as Megan was parking the car, I saw another trans woman coming out into the lobby from the exam areas. She was tall and pretty, but seemed a bit nervous. We met eyes for a brief moment and I wondered if this was before or after her surgery. Maybe she wasn’t having surgery at all. Who knew. She and her friend left and I returned to my phone as I waited, letting my questions fade off.

Two days later, we prepared to return to Kentucky flying out later that afternoon. Having had a very good experience in the hospital, all of the staff being so nice and attentive, Megan and I wanted to do something nice before we left town. So we went down to a local bakery and purchased some very fancy cupcakes and picked up a card. Then we headed back to the hospital.

Megan dropped me off at the door and went to park, so I settled down in a chair in the lobby of the hospital. Just doing what I always do, checking out all of the people, taking in the details of them. A few minutes passed, and from the corner of my eye, I see the girl from the doctor’s office. With the same friend accompanying her.

They were coming into the lobby from the pre-surgery area and they walked out into a indoor garden/relaxation area. I got up and walked that direction, but I stopped. I wanted to tell her congratulations, good luck and a quick recovery. But, I chickened out. My anxiety crept up on me, where I can only speak to strangers when they initiate the conversation. So I let her enjoy the fresh air.

I wonder if she’s happier now, like I am. I wonder if I might even know her online. Have we crossed paths on Reddit or Twitter? Who knows. It was just a neat experience of passing someone on the same journey, but just a step or two behind you. In a week, she would be back at Dr. Bowers’ office for her check-up. Then maybe she’d be flying across country back to wherever she calls home.

Need you like water in my lungs

Need you like water in my lungs

I’ve had the flu. It sucks. It kinda crept in 2 weeks ago. Starting as just a little cough. I could tell there was something in my lungs, but it wasn’t a huge deal. By last Sunday, the aches in my hips and my knees had started. I initially attributed it to chasing my kids around all weekend.

However, when I woke up Monday, I had hit full peak bullshit. Most importantly, I couldn’t talk. I tried the usual thing, make some hot tea… try and loosen up whatever was going on in there. That didn’t work. In fact, it still hasn’t. We’re 9 days in, and I still can’t really talk. I can croak. I missed the entire week of work. It wasn’t until Saturday that my fever finally broke. On Monday, I trudged to work. Even though I couldn’t speak clearly or for any length of time. I assumed that I would be able to convince management to give me some other task. Something to keep me off the phones.

Of course, I would be wrong. I managed to chew up the first half of yesterday getting caught up on what changed in the previous week. But the center manager wanted me on the phone at that point.

This brings me back to extreme dysphoria. Let’s talk about my dysphoria. My voice. I hate my voice. Since the earliest parts of my transition, I listed my voice as being the thing that made me dysphoric the most. I’ve worked very hard to get a passable female voice on the phone. One where I don’t have to argue with customers and other employees about my gender and my very existence. Obviously, in my current condition, I sound like a 70 year old man that smokes 3 packs a day with a terrible smoker’s cough.

However, as is with most things trans related, my employer just doesn’t really give a shit. I’ve been told how smart I am, how well I know the systems, and my ability to troubleshoot problems and correct them better than some of the people actually tasked with that job. So, why not let me help reps with their orders. Apply promos, do something productive. Something that has to be done anyway. Nah. I don’t sell enough stuff to get a job where my skill set is actually utilized.

Let’s put the transgender woman on the phone so that she can be aggressively misgendered all day long. Fuck my life.

livia

So I did what any sane person would do, I filed for another Job Accommodation. I go back to the doctor tomorrow. She’s probably going to tell me I have pneumonia or lung cancer or some such shit.

HOWEVER COMMA…

Before I go to my primary care doctor to be given news of my impending slow, painful, and probably humiliating death… I have a consult with a plastic surgeon to talk about my boobs. I’m going to the wizard to talk about boobies. This is all very exciting.

I’m hoping, but not holding my breath, to have that done by the end of the year. Since I’m pretty much maxed out on my out of pocket costs with my insurance, why not? I mean, my lovely company might not care about my mental wellbeing, but they can pay for some consolation prizes.

She’s Not There

She’s Not There

I had my meeting. The company’s response was best summed up in emoji. It would be:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This was even after I had a heated confrontation with an aspiring member of management, one of our team leads, after he misgendered me. I was so upset that I nearly just quit on the spot. I packed my desk, neatly into a box that I had previously prepared back in April. In April, of course, I assumed I was going to be fired at any moment. Even with that looming impending doom having passed, I never totally unpacked the box. It stayed under my desk until recently, when I moved it to my car. It’s in my trunk right now.

In any event, the company was all like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I was advised to file a complaint with the Louisville Metro Government, alleging a violation of the local fairness ordinance. As part of the complaint process, they asked me to explain how I felt that I was being discriminated against. It took me nearly a week to work up the motivation to complete that. A few false starts and versions later, I had written about 3 pages worth of my experience.

img_20160830_161804

On August 30th, I went down to the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission and signed the formal complaint, filing both locally and federally. The federal component was an EEOC complaint, alleging sex discrimination.

Now we wait to see what’s going to happen next. For those interested, here’s my official statement that I included in my complaint. (Edit 11/23/2016: I’ve updated this to reflect the newest version, with up to date info.)

To Whom It May Concern:

I began working for AT&T in June 2013. In March 2015, I came out as a transgender woman. At that time, I requested that people start using female pronouns and my new chosen name. My name was legally changed with the Commonwealth of Kentucky in April 2015. Throughout this process, I made sure to give a reasonable amount of time for my colleagues to adjust to my new name, pronouns, and appearance.

Initially, I approached center level management regarding restroom access. I was met with needless delay. When I pressed the issue, I was told “Oh, I thought you didn’t want to use the women’s restroom until after you had the surgery.” When I was finally given permission to use the restroom that matched my gender identity, it was almost begrudgingly. The email from HR said “Due to there not being a unisex restroom facility in your building, you may begin using the female restrooms.” – implying that segregating me from other women would have been a more acceptable solution. This also goes against the verbiage in the “AT&T Transgender Policy.”

Immediately, I was met with a new issue. Despite AT&T having a clear and concise policy pertaining to transgender people transitioning on the job, local management decided to ignore it altogether. It was decided, against my objections, that no one in the office would be told about my transition. It was decided that we would deal with bathroom issues on a case by case basis. I made it exactly one week before the first incident.

Throughout, I tried to ignore the misgendering and use of my former name (dead naming), but as time went on I started correcting people as I overheard them. Things were not improving. In September 2015, I arrived in the office to find that a member of management had posted pre-transition pictures of me (Presenting as male) on an office bulletin board. Other bulletin boards were still referencing my former name.

I immediately contacted Human Resources. Meanwhile, the manager in question called me to apologize. Even in her apology, she continued to misgender me. Human Resources assured that the issues had been handled, despite the issues continuing. I asked HR to transfer to me out of the call center to which I was assigned. I was still being regularly misgendered and being subjected to microaggressions. Microaggressions, for those not familiar with the term, are subtle verbal or behavioral slights that invalidate a person’s identity or experience.

I was told by a coworker that the center manager went on a tirade regarding my transition, as she felt her religious beliefs did not allow her to work with transgender people. This occurred on my day off. My understanding was that a number of employees witnessed the outburst and that someone submitted an ethics complaint against the manager in question. At least one other co-worker came to me to let me know that the center manager was continuing to misgender me in meetings, and would continue to do so, even after being corrected.

Meanwhile, I was seeing retaliation from the manager that I had reported to HR for the pictures and dead naming. My performance was being scrutinized more closely than my colleagues, and rules were not being applied equally. The 1st level manager was reviewing my calls and transactions, even though I was not on her team and I did not report to her. Additionally, I was issued discipline that was not in line with other employees. My performance suffered as a result of constantly trying to make sure that I was protecting myself.  

As part of my treatments, I was utilizing FMLA time to attend therapy and other transition-related medical care.  I found that while initially my FMLA time was approved very quickly, as things got worse in the office, the FMLA cases were endlessly delayed. A normal approval might come back in 5 days; in my case, I had cases pending for over a month at one time. At one point, the manager in question showed up at a funeral and was caught in the chapel taking pictures of me. The next day, I was informed by another colleague that she had been printing “Benefit Fraud” paperwork, which I assume she was going to use to initiate a FMLA abuse case. However, she didn’t know that I was out of work for mental health issues, largely because of this type of harassment. Again, I asked for a transfer within AT&T.

Towards the end of April, I went out on medical leave for surgery and the subsequent recovery. During the time I was out of the office, both the manager in question, along with the center level manager were both terminated. While no official word was ever given, the assumption was that it was in relation to the complaints that I had filed with the company.

The thought process was that when I came back to work, things would be much better. However, I returned on June 21st, largely to much of the same. For a third time, I requested a transfer to another work location. I received no response. I continued to be misgendered by co-workers and managers alike, with the same frequency. I tried to let things pass, especially if the person would correct themselves. I was getting a lot of “he, I mean she” references, despite being full time on the job for 17 months at the time. At this point, seeing no other choice, I sent another written complaint to HR. I noted that in the previous 8 days, I had been misgendered by 4 different members of staff. Two had corrected themselves without me saying anything. One I corrected and the person got upset and walked away. The final person engaged me in a verbal dispute on the sales floor about how it was “ok” and “not that big of a deal.”

Again, I asked HR to transfer me to another work center, so that I might be “stealth”, where my co-workers didn’t know about my transgender status. Where they had not worked with me prior to transitioning. The company’s position was such that they were going to continue to deal with the issues on a case by case basis. I asserted that this was an inappropriate response to a larger problem. I also told HR that it was my opinion that the company continues to treat me as an experiment rather than protect me. Additionally, AT&T does not care about the issues within the work center. There’s been no action to remove me from the source of the conflict, nor has there been any significant or good-faith attempt to correct the issues at the origin.

The response was much of the same, I could apply for other positions within the company, but there would be no transfer. There was no policy to support me being transferred. At this point, I filed a formal complaint with the Metro Louisville Government and the Federal EEOC, stating sex discrimination and a violation of the Louisville Fairness Ordinance.  That is still pending. AT&T brought in two people from EEO office to conduct ethics training in groups of 25 or so at a time over the course of 2 days. The training spent a lot more time focusing on the transgender policy than other parts. This was extremely awkward for me, as I felt like the elephant in the room. With that much attention, pretty much everyone in the office knew why they were being subjected to a compliance training.

Since that happened, nothing has really changed. I’m still being misgendered occasionally. At this point, I’ve been full time presenting as a woman for near as makes no difference 20 months. There’s an adjustment period, for sure, but at this point even the “mistakes” are based on people just not caring enough to try to gender me correctly. It signifies that they do not respect me as a woman, they see me as the man in a dress, and I should feel lucky when they get it right. They’re placating me. Even as new people come into the office, they somehow learn of my trans status and then it starts again. I can walk down the street, go to my son’s school event, interact with perfect strangers and never be misgendered. But once someone shares (against my will) my status with someone in this office, then they fall in with the others.

The most recent issue, and perhaps one of the most offensive happened last week.  I had come down the flu, both the A and B strains. During that period, I also came down with Bronchitis, Upper Respiratory Infection, Bronchospasms and a really bad cough, among other things. Once the fever was gone, I tried to come back to work. AT&T wants me to come to work, I want to come to work. However, I could barely talk. I could talk very roughly for brief periods of time, but I couldn’t be on the phone whispering to customers for 8 hours a day. I had asked my 1st level supervisor and my GTR if there might be something that I could do that would keep me off the phone, for a couple more days. I brought in my doctor’s notes explaining that speaking would delay my healing and result in more time lost. They seemed willing to help me but they needed approval of the 2ndLevel Manager (Jason Erwin). He flat out refused. I contacted my union local president and vice president, who called Erwin to try and work something out. They were given the same answer. I could take calls or I could call out and face the discipline for the attendance.

I worked a part day, doing trainings and coverages that I had missed while I had been off. My supervisor went over my scorecard for the prior month and covered me on my overall performance. Once that was done, I was forced to go home, because there was nothing I could do. The next day, I came in, but only ended up staying about an hour because again, the management refused to have any compassion. Wednesday was my normal scheduled day off. On Thursday, I returned to the office. I was having system issues, so I wasn’t able to take calls immediately. Instead of my supervisor coming to see if I needed help, Erwin approached me. I asked him about the official job accommodation request that I had sent Sedgwick. He said they wouldn’t have that for 2-3 weeks. I asked, so what about right now, when I actually need the accommodation?

Again without any compassion or concern for my recovery, he told me that under no circumstances was he going to approve any job accommodations, other than the time missed. I tried to explain that I couldn’t speak very well, or clearly. I also tried to explain that with my gender dysphoria diagnosis that I have extreme dysphoria about being misgendered, and that even if I could take calls all day, it  would be impossible to not be misgendered by customers.

His reply was almost verbatim to a previous person who had misgendered me and then argued his position. He said, “I’ve been called a woman on the phone. It doesn’t matter. It’s not a big deal.” Which is not what a cisgender male 2nd level manager should be saying to a transgender person. He thinks that because he doesn’t have gender dysphoria, that mine doesn’t matter. He doesn’t get to make that call though. A person of privilege doesn’t get to decide what is and isn’t offensive or triggering to a marginalized person. Furthermore, this whole interaction occurred on the sales floor, in the aisle with my team and in earshot of other people as well. It really cements the company’s commitment to transgender people. It enforces to my teammates and coworkers that it doesn’t matter if I’m misgendered. If he says it, why should we care if we call the t****y by male pronouns.

I contacted my ERM via email. This was on Thursday, 10/27. She replied back with a standard “I’ll get back to you by Friday the 28th” email. I was out on Friday, but I didn’t get any emails from her. When I came in on 10/31, I still had no contact from her. On Tuesday, 11/1, I emailed her again because I hadn’t heard anything from her. I also let her know about the conversation that my union reps had with Erwin. I told her that I was leaving, but I asked her to contact me on my personal cell phone.

She contacted me and I explained a little more in depth what was going on and how I was concerned with Erwin’s comments and his refusal to attempt any type of help for an extremely sick employee. She said she was going to work on my issue. I haven’t heard from her since. This was 11/1. I emailed her on 11/2, letting her know that I was back in the office and working, asking for an update. To date, she hasn’t contacted me. On the 3rd, at the advice of a LEAGUE rep, I placed a call to ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■ (■■■■■■) who had dealt with prior EEO complaints that I had filed. I spoke with her and explained that I felt that the company hadn’t been taking my complaints seriously. That this new complaint was just the same as the previous. That I am working in a hostile work environment, that once again, I have a 2nd level manager that I couldn’t trust to protect me from the people who report to him. That I had requested a transfer at least 4 times and was denied each time. I also explained that the “hammer each nail” approach doesn’t work, because another “nail” always pops up. AT&T continues to experiment on trying to fix an office of 100 people rather than take the 1 person impacted out of the situation. I gave her the name and UID of the ERM who I had spoken to, she promised she would get in contact with her and work on it.

That was on Thursday. It’s Saturday now, I’ve heard nothing from her or the ERM. Again, I’m over here in a mentally hostile work environment but it’s not a huge priority for anyone to resolve. Furthermore, they promoted a very close friend of the 1st level manager that was harassing and following me. He’s now a 1st level manager in the center. This is a person that drinks and hangs out with a person that misgendered, harassed and stalked me. When I came back from medical level in June, him and his wife wouldn’t speak to me. His wife is a sales consultant like me. Now he’s effectively my boss. Even though I don’t directly report to him. For example, today because we run a limited staff, we only have one coach in the office. He’s the coach. Initially, he was supposed to take over my team. This was only avoided by me having a very frank discussion with Erwin where I laid out the conflict of interest between he and I.  I also mentioned that I believe it’s inappropriate for a manager to be married to a rep in the same call center. Erwin said HR had cleared that, but that he would work something out so that he and I didn’t have to work together. That obviously worked out well.

All along, the only thing I’ve ever wanted from AT&T is to be able to do my job and be respected as any other woman within the company. The company and their employees, managers and agents continually disrespect me, ignore COBC as well as the laws & guidelines set up within Metro Louisville’s ordinances to protect people like me, and refuse to take action to resolve the situation.

 

Sign Out To Meeting

Sign Out To Meeting

In my workplace, a manager coming to your desk and telling you to sign out to meeting after you finish your call is normally a good sign that discipline is coming down. It’s not something you normally want to hear.

However, in my case… I’m ready to have my own meeting. The classic “Come to Jesus” meeting, so to speak. I’ve touched on this issue before, but never really going into depth about it. My problem is that despite having transitioned in early 2015, with 17 months full time on the job, the people I work with and for still can’t seem to get it right.  I was out of the office today on union business, but on Monday alone, I was misgendered by 3 different people. One member of management and two craft employees. (Note: I started this draft last week.)

Since coming out, I’ve had a number of issues within the office. I’ve taken the worst of them to human resources as well as our ethics complaint line. The complaints were for harassment, discrimination and retaliation. However, there’s always been a concern of how these claims were dealt with. Due to confidentiality regulations, I could never be debriefed on the actual disposition of my complaint. I could make an assumption, but there’d be no real closure. I feel like it’s a major transparency issue for the company.

Despite it all, it’s still continuing. It doesn’t really seem to be improving. I’ve repeatedly asked human resources to transfer me into another workcenter where I can go stealth and no one would need know about my gender identity. This would allow me to leave that lingering residue of my old identity behind. I’ve requested it from my ERM (Employee Resource Manager), my first level supervisor as well as my second level manager. I’ve made requests through the union and they’ve approached management regarding it. No one has ever said “No.” It’s always that they’re waiting on an answer from someone else. Who this person might be is a mystery to me.

So my “Come to Jesus” meeting is really quite simple. My feelings are that the company has not taken the appropriate actions to curb the microaggressions and misgendering within the workcenter. Nor have they moved me out of the workcenter. They’ve failed to hold up their own policies. They have failed to take reasonable measures to protect me, so that I can do my job.

Both of these things are well within the means of the company. They don’t place any undue burden or hardship on the company. They do not hinder the needs of the business. If anything, they lend to the needs of the business, because I’d be able to spend more of my time working and less of it speaking with human resources and the ethics hotline.

My feeling is that the company doesn’t care. They want to be ranked highly on the HRC reports and be known as one of the top LGBT friendly companies. However, when it comes down to brass tacks, their words ring hollow. In my opinion, the company could care less. The meeting would allow me to understand if my assumptions are correct. Assuming they are true, then my next course of action would be to consult with a lawyer who specializes in the EEO, discrimination and harassment claims. What else is left?

This is not the post you’re looking for

This is not the post you’re looking for

As my stepfather is keen to saying “I’ll get right on that, right after I eat this grapefruit.” But there’s never any grapefruit to be found. I think that’s the point.

Right, so. I was just driving my car home last night and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I thought, “Wow, I made it.”

Speaking specifically to my other trans friends that sometime read my drivel, do any of you feel like that? As in, we made it through the darkest times, the most awkward parts, the constant barrage of questions and at the end, here we are. On the downward slope of transition?

I know some of my trans friends have a hard time remembering what it was like before transition. It’s a sort of fuzzy memory. You know it happened, but you can’t really explain the particulars any longer. Now, myself, I haven’t quite come to that place. Perhaps, I never will. I have a tendency to live in the past. I used to assume that the Jimmy Eat World song “23” was written for me. That line that says, “I won’t always live in my regrets” rang true to me. While I still think the rest of the song feels relevant, that line no longer means what it meant.

I haven’t forgotten what the pre-Addison life was about. Honestly, I remember important moments in my life in an almost HD perfect clarity kind of way. Honestly, I don’t know that I want to lose that. I’m sure age will take that from me, but I don’t think transition will be the culprit. Many trans people want to argue about who they were back then and what that means. I try not to get caught up in that part. I only ask that my friends and family, when regaling others with the tales of my vivid past, they respect my pronouns and my name. Just because I was referred to differently at the time, doesn’t mean that I want that to be a part of the story.

In any event, the part that my friends mentioned aside from the fuzzy memory was that they had achieved a sense of normalcy. That the person they are now is the new normal. Moving past the obstacles of transition, navigating shitty healthcare providers, awkward conversations with HR and bosses and the sometimes inevitable changes in the dynamic between you and your family or friends… or both. That having survived that part and surviving the period of limbo. Passing through the phase where you’re still baby trans, freshly hatched from the egg of acceptance, that you have reached peak trans and now the high water mark is receding.

That you are you and no one can dictate that except you. Other people, be it family, co-workers, friends, enemies or people on the internet, don’t define you. They can’t change you. That you are done with all that. Having set all that stuff aside, you look into the horizon and you see the rest of your life to live as you deem correct. You made it.

Post-op: A 20 Day Review

Post-op: A 20 Day Review

Sidenote: I started this a couple days ago and fell asleep while writing it… Woops. I incremented the days in the title to reflect this.

I’ve been home for about 12 days now and I keep intending to write something… However, sitting in my desk chair is uncomfortable and I don’t really like typing on my laptop keyboard for any length of time, but whatever. I feel like the longer I wait, the less likely that I’ll write anything.

As a bit of fore-warning, I am probably going to be a bit graphic. As such, proceed with caution, depending on your comfort level.

I’m exhausted. Just all the time. Severe lethargy. It seems like the less I do, the more tired I am. Likewise, my pain levels have elevated as well. I guess healing is energy intensive. Who would have thought?

From a healing perspective, things  seem to be mending well, with only one notable exception.  Last Saturday, I popped a stitch. I had noticed the end of the thread had been hanging out since the hotel stay in California, however it didn’t seem to be a big issue. However, the evening, it was totally out.  With the stitch out, the seam of the wound separated.

Monday, I scheduled an appointment with my primary care physician to have her take a look at it. She examined it and she tried to calm my nerves. She said that it has a bottom and it’s not tunneling inside my body, which is a good thing, she also mentioned that the area couldn’t be restitched due to the fragileness of the tissue.

Her suggestion was to stop doing so much. Which she was right. The problem is,  I had been feeling good and I thought I could do more. With that feeling good, the body had not been as responsive as maybe it should be. I can only describe it like getting a sunburn. You really don’t notice until it’s far far too late.

Additionally, she attempted to take stress off the tissue by pulling the skin together and securing it with SteriStrips. The problem with the strips is that when I pee, because everything is kind of swollen still, my pee runs everywhere before it falls subject to gravity. The bulk runs down my labia on either side and then follows that path towards my butt. The wound is at the entrance of the vaginal canal, where it meets the perineum. So when the strips get wet, they lose their adhesion and they come loose. Walking will do the same to a certain extent, especially with a little bit of sweat mixed in with some discharge.   My solution has been to just keep my butt in bed as much as possible.

However, by Wednesday evening, the wound looked like it had gotten larger. I was scared, I was crying… I was inconsolable. Terrified that I was going to ruin everything or end up with some sort of flesh eating infection in my vag, I was just a mess. So I emailed my PCP and explained that it seemed to be getting bigger. Her medical assistant, who’s awesome, called me the next morning and told me to come back in so they could take another look.

So I went in and she was relieved when she saw it, because I guess I had concerned her that it was much larger. She did confirm that yes, it was bigger, and the split had actually gotten into the vaginal tissue. However, she also said that it had tapered itself in such a way that she didn’t expect it to continue to separate further.

Since then, aside from a couple of trips out for food and then Hunter’s 1st Birthday Party, I’ve stayed in bed, on the couch, or sitting on the patio (as I am now). Even the party, I spent the majority of it in a lazyboy with my feet up. This has led to some fairly dramatic healing of the area. I’m sure it’ll be weeks to a month before it’s fully closed. Which is concerning if I’m supposed to go back to work in 2ish weeks. I don’t move much at work, but I have to walk nearly 2 blocks each way to the parking garage and walk up and down 4 flights of steps.

Likewise, the 3x daily dilation regimen will be difficult to maintain with some duration between the 2nd and 3rd. If I get dilate before work, that’d be around 9am. I wouldn’t be able to dilate again until about 8pm and then again around midnight. Basically means I’ll lose 1.5-2 hours that I could be spending with family/friends in my already short evening.

As for the pain, I’m still in a lot of pain most of the time. One would think that the pain would be between my legs, inside the actual vagina, or the wound separation. However, the bulk of the pain is in the pubic area. There’s no visible bruising, but deep down in the tissue, it’s miserable. I’ve just finished my 2nd bottle of percocet since being discharged and I haven’t been taking as much as I would like. I’ve tried replacing it with high dose ibuprofen and it only takes the edge off. Might bring 7-8 pain to a 4 or so.

Still waiting on my surgical declaration letter from Dr. Bowers. I want to get my birth certificate updated before Governor Bevin realizes that it’s legal for me to do so. My luck, he’ll repeal the law in an emergency special session.

More later, stay tuned.