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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!

Colly Strings

Colly Strings

A pity invitation to an awkward house,
For pseudo-boy that would rather wear a blouse.
I sincerely saw your skin for the very first time.

My curly hair and a voting booth,
Confessedly, this is the first time I’ve loved you.
And God I mean, God I mean it, I hope that I mean it.

Once again, I’m standing on a proverbial ledge — just kicking rocks over the side, looking down. Someone told me today that they wanted my life. I laughed a little laugh, replying “My life is very messy right now.” This is probably the understatement of the century. My life is more like the white water rapids and all I’ve got is some floaties to keep my head above water. 

It’s no secret that I’ve been unhappy in my job for some time. In more ways than one. The normal way, is just like my coworkers, the work is shit. However, we all show up for that paycheck. Those benefits. That PTO. A lot of us are like, just a couple more months.. or another year. Always with this expectation that we’re going to do something better with our lives. Sure, ok. But the way I’m different from my co-workers is that I’ve been asking to be transferred out for over a year due to the recurring issues in the workplace. 

I mentioned this in my last entry, the company had approached me with the idea of relocating to Miami, Atlanta or New Orleans. Today I took a call with HR that said that if I would consider it, that I had a 99.9% chance of having a position in Miami or Atlanta. I didn’t say no, but I didn’t say yes. I said I would think about it. I just don’t want to move to another red state and essentially jump from the fire into the frying pan. Atlanta has a nondiscrimination ordinance that protects gender identity, but the state doesn’t. Miami is the same. With the emboldened confidence of the GOP, I suspect that many other states are going to try and force HB2-esque bills through the state house and into law. This would invalidate the city ordinances.  

I acknowledge that this is not “the company’s” fault, they can’t control the whims of lawmakers (please hold your laughter.) They can’t be held accountable to the states in which they operate. Their position is that the company has a very comprehensive policy pertaining to discrimination. This is the part where I laugh. Or at least chuckle.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Honestly, I don’t understand why it’s so important to the company that I stay within the same bargaining unit. There’s not a state in the bargaining unit that’s better than where I am already. When you consider the shit I’ve gone through in the current state, it’s like why trade one shithole for another? I just don’t think it’s worth the effort of uprooting everything in my life to take a gamble on going further into the deep south. Or past the deep south into Miami, which is probably going to be underwater in the next 4 years, given our political electorate’s position on climate change. 

I’m really hoping I get a call or email or carrier pigeon on the Providence job. I am probably going to look for jobs there with the competitor. Since they’re the incumbent provider in that area, there’s probably more options in or around Rhode Island. On the other hand there’s a fear that they’ll actually want me. Then I have to figure out what to do with the house and everything else in it. #puke

Related, one of my best friends just bought a dealership in Dallas. I really liked Dallas. The political climate is arguably the worst, second only to maybe North Carolina. I had messaged him, congratulating him on his continued success. At one of the previous jobs that he held, he had tried to get me to come down and work for him again. At the time, I was married and I knew that Megan would never go back to Texas. However, I’m now divorced and I’m hungry for change. The years that I worked for him were arguably some of the best times I ever had. I loved my job, I was excited to go to it (most mornings.) I didn’t mind working 80 hours, because a lot of the time, it didn’t seem like work. Also because I knew that I was taken care of, that I was appreciated, and that there there was mutual respect between he and I. Of course, now that I’ve transitioned, I wonder about how that might impact our dynamic. I know that when a mutual colleague of ours had made a shitty trans joke at my expense, he went ballistic on the guy. I hope that carries. I just know that the last time we were face-to-face, he seemed distant. I remember crying on the way home because I felt like I lost one of the most devoted friends that I’d ever made. I would like to think that it’s just because we’re 1000 miles apart and we’ve just drifted. That things could still be the same if I was there every day. In any event, I was texting with his wife, saying that I wished we had never left. I’d have stayed there if Megan hadn’t wanted to move back home. She said she wished we never moved either and that my friend needed me more now than ever. To which I replied, tell him to make me an offer. I’ve not heard anything from them since, but if a reasonable offer came through, I’d probably jump all over it. 

I’d be less worried about the state level protections if I was working for him. I think he’d give me a fair shake and if there were issues with others in the workplace, that he would choose me over them. If they’re in the wrong, of course. I think Dallas has a nondiscrimination ordinance, too. On top of that, with all my documents updated at the state and federal level, I can’t imagine having a problem outside of the workplace. I don’t get misgendered in public, only other trans people clock me. We’ve got this transdar that picks up on everything. And I’ve got a fresh set of tits. #winning

Going to Dallas would close the door on the saga of Kayla and I. I admit that I have some far fetched idea that if was to end up in New England, that there might be an opportunity to open a new dialogue. The bridge is burned, but I own tools. I know that’s a dumb hope to hold on to, but we were talking about being together in the nursing home. I was going to propose to her, perhaps sooner than she might have wanted me to. I threw that away in a drunk discussion and then sober hardheadedness. I doubled down on a shitty idea and I got just that, shit. I know she’s going to read this, but I hope she doesn’t. 

I’m listening to “23” by Jimmy Eat World. I’ve loved this song since it came out in 2004. I was 24 at the time, but close enough to 23 that I could relate. The lyrics speak to me. 

Amazing still it seems
I’ll be 23
I won’t always love what I’ll never have
I won’t always live in my regrets

I need a person to follow me around and give me good advice all day. Where do I get that? I need a Kif. Jesus, does that make me Zapp Brannigan? That’s kind of gross. Ok, it’s nearly 4 am, I’m going to meet my mom at Waffle House for breakfast and then take my ex, my kids and her mom to the airport for them to go to Disney. Dueces. 

Transatlanticism

Transatlanticism

All I see are dark grey clouds
In the distance moving closer with every hour.
So when you ask “Was something wrong?”,
That I think “You’re damn right there is but we can’t talk about it now.
No, we can’t talk about it now.”

So I’ve not written in a while. I’ve just been in too much of funk that I couldn’t manage it. Funk is the wrong word, the phrase I’ve used a few times when talking to friends has been “mind-crippling depression.” I’m still very depressed, but I think I’ve pulled myself from the worst of it. The ideation has passed. I was going to say it was gone, but I know that at some point, sooner or later it’ll come back. 

I still spend an enormous amount of time thinking about Kayla. I really do. I was (am) very much in love with her. I keep thinking all the things I could have done differently, but none of that will help me now. I think that’s the hardest part. It’s like having murdered someone and having to sit in a cell every day and replay those events in your head. For me, the cell is my own brain. It’s not a place one would want to visit. It’s the exit on the interstate that you skip when you’re looking for a bathroom.  

Kayla had posted an idea of what her prime timeline looks like, with her doing successful things in Rhode Island, having never left. When I talked to her about it, I explained that in my headcanon, that timeline has me in Rhode Island with her. Everything is fine. I surmised that the two timelines had split the day we flipped a bottle cap to see which of us was going to move. In the darkest timeline, she came here and it played out as it has. In the prime timeline, I moved to her and everything is going well. 

I want to be on the prime timeline in a bad way. 

So the thought of leaving this place is again popping up. The only thing that kept me from leaving before was Kayla coming here. My reasons for leaving were only partly to be with her. They were also for me to have a chance to start over fresh without so much “dead me” baggage. This has come up due to my company finally starting to come around to the idea of transferring me out of the worksite. Since there aren’t any other call centers in Louisville with my company, they asked if I would consider moving to Atlanta, Miami or New Orleans. After doing some research, I’ve determined that no, I would not really consider that. I asked for something in a blue state. Somewhere that has statewide protections for trans people. I’ve been scanning the company’s open positions and I found a few that were interesting. I even applied to be a Store Manager at one of our corporate owned retail stores, in Providence of all places. 

It feels weird to consider going to Providence and not be there with Kayla. It feels backwards. It feels like dating your best friend’s ex-girlfriend. In any event, I don’t think that I would be even considered for that job. I’d been applying for assistant manager positions in Louisville and couldn’t get a call back. As John Cusack said in High Fidelity, ” It was like trying to borrow a dollar, getting turned down, and asking for fifty grand instead.” 

But whatever. But… what if they say yes. Then what the fuck do I do? I guess I’ll figure it out if that happens. 

It’s nearly 2am, I had to take a phone call when I was really focused on this. I’ve lost that focus, so I’m going to just cut it off right now. 

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

Kill yourself for recognition, Kill yourself to never ever stop..

Kill yourself for recognition, Kill yourself to never ever stop..

So, this week has been all over the place. I wrote the other day about having the flu. Turns out, not only do I have the flu, but I had flu strains a *and* b. Double whammy. While the flu is gone, the crud in my chest and throat was lowkey trying to morph into full fledged pneumonia.

My doctor said she couldn’t hear the middle or the bottoms of my lungs, because I couldn’t take in a deep enough breath to get there. She loaded me up on all the best that the pharma industry has to offer. I’m finally starting to feel some clearage. Hopefully by Monday.

I went to work on Thursday with my bag of pills and preparations, hoping to get a better response from management. What I got, was worse than before. Our new center sales manager aka CSM (my boss’s boss), told me that he really didn’t care if I could talk well or not, I either took calls or I called out sick and faced the discipline that comes with that.

I thanked him for the condolences, consideration and compassion. I reminded him that my gender dysphoria would make it extremely hard to be misgendered for 8 hours. His response was that he’d been referred to as female on the phone in the past and that it wasn’t a big deal.  This is exactly the same argument used by the aspiring manager a couple months ago. The one that led into a loud verbal dispute in the middle of the office.

I told the CSM that it wasn’t ok and it wasn’t remotely the same. That he had no idea what it was like to be transgender and how you’re constantly having to prove yourself. Nothing productive came from that interaction and so with no other options, I left. Not like my customers would have been able to hear me whispering on the phone anyway.

*SIGH* 

*SIGH*


Enough of that continuing shitshow… I’m sure there’ll be more to come.

Back to important things, I went to my breast augmentation consultation on Wednesday. It was more informative than I expected. If I’m honest, I wasn’t 100% excited prior to getting there. I never really wanted implants. I was hoping that I’d be able to grow boobies the old fashion way. You know, by downing lots of wide-loadestrogen and progesterone and suppressing my body’s ability to produce testosterone. But that hasn’t been 100% successful. Obviously I have some breast tissue. I can’t go get the mail topless. That said, I’m wearing two bras right now just to get a proportional look on my big ass ribcage and my WIDE LOAD shoulders. Seriously. This is me walking down a hallway. I saw decent growth from probably around the 3rd month and that ran into the next year. When I switched to injections in February, I was sure that they’d start perking up. Especially when they started getting tender and aching. They might have grown a bit. Hard to say looking at the pictures from last year. Again, I thought after GRS that I might see some additional perks from being without testes. While the anti-androgen medication I was using did a good job of suppressing testosterone, it’s not without it’s faults. Who’d blame it, it’s not even labeled for that purpose. It’s a blood pressure medication.

So breast augmentation was seen as a last resort option. It wasn’t like the vaginoplasty where there was no other option. Not doing it wasn’t on the table. Having a BA was something I was hoping to avoid if possible. In any event, I’ve reached the point where I think I’ve plateaued in terms of natural growth. Now it seems the BA is the only logical choice moving forward. I decided to move forward now, while I have good insurance. So that I can kind of cross “transition” off my to-do list and focus on more important things in my life.

Of course, once I was in the exam room and the medical assistant was helping me into the fitting bra, my brain woke up. As we tried different sizes, starting small and moving upward, my excitement peaked. I looked at myself in the mirror and I could finally see myself in a bathing suit without being totally mortified that I lost about 3 cup sizes in the bathroom. Or wearing a strapless dress. Even just going to the gas station at midnight to buy chips and not have to feel like I need to put my bras on first, because society expects a girl my size to not be flat chested…. Also, they expect your nipples to not point in opposite directions like Steve Buscemi’s eyes in Mr. Deeds.

It’s easy to say that you don’t care what strangers think. To proclaim that you have no interest in how they see you, through their own eyes. I’ve said it from time to time, but it’s not a mantra that I can live by. I’m constantly scanning the room looking for anyone that’s looking at me. I live a life where I’m constantly concerned about my voice, what I’m wearing, and how I look in order to blend in with the other women. Having the boobs would take one thing off my list of things to be constantly worried about.

Of course, in order to get the surgery or for insurance to cover it, I have to jump back through the hoops of WPATH once more. As I mentioned prior to my GRS, I had to get two permission slips from mental health professionals to be allowed to take my field trip to the vagina farm. For BA, it’s just one. Which is good, that second opinion cost me something like $300 last time.

However, for someone who considers herself to be well established in her gender, I find it hard to accept that I still have to prove myself just to get covered health care. It’s kind of demoralizing in a way. I mean, jesus fucking christ, I let someone cut off my balls and turn my penis into a functional vagina. If anyone’s committed to the trans life, I think it’s me. No one would go through all the shit I’ve experienced in the last 684 days and not be sure that she needed a boob job. But here I am, forced to go back and talk about my dysphoria pertaining to my (lack of) boobs. About a year ago, I wrote an entry where I said:

See, if you’re a trans person and you want to actually transition, you have to jump through hoops. A lot of hoops. Oh, did I mention that the hoops are on fire?

But whatever, I’ll put my Jordans on and get to jumping. It’s not like I have an option.

 (Side note: The title is from the song “High and Dry” by Radiohead, from their 1995 album “The Bends.” It is not a cry for help. Thanks.)

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.

I took the pills, I took the advice

I took the pills, I took the advice

I feel like I am barely existing right now.  I’m so exhausted all the time. Mostly physically, but mentally I’m running on empty as well. Just like a Jackson Browne song…

I’m still healing. It seems to be getting better, but I think that has an impact for sure. Working is tedious. It’s hard to stay focused. I’m now on 3 different anti-depressants and I’m just kind of drifting along on autopilot, it seems.

Additionally, I just was forced to switch estrogen delivery systems. I had been on injections for the last 7 months ago. However, as of late, injectable estradiol is not available. It’s on a national backorder. For reals, It’s on the FDA website and everything. So now I’m using patches. But I’m only being prescribed half the dose that most people I know. I have to wait a month and go have my levels checked. That could be impactful to my energy levels.

Mentally, I have the stress of a divorce, trying to build a new relationship, and dealing with all the crap in my office. These days, when HR calls me, I have to ask which complaint we’re talking about. Still waiting on some movement from EEOC/Fairness Ordinance complaints that I filed, as well.

Used to be, when I was stressed, I would drink. I drank a lot for a number of years. Mostly alone, at home. Lately, I don’t even drink. I just want to sleep. Or watch TV.

This will all come to pass. I hope. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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?