For those who decide to come out as transgender, the workplace can be a big hurdle—using the bathrooms, keeping up a new appearance and dealing with reactions from co-workers.
But with many offices going remote, more transgender employees are concluding they can come out while letting their work—not their gender identity—speak for them.
River Bailey, 41-year-old software developer, says she doesn’t know if she would have come out as trans at work if not for her ability to work from her home in central Texas. “It gave me the freedom to just be able to exist,” she says. She made the move in late 2019 via a Slack message to colleagues at her all-remote software-consulting agency. She considers herself lucky to work in a sector that can offer remote positions, because most of the trans people she knows have jobs in stores, warehouses, and restaurants.
“Before I was even considering [coming out at work] I checked the company’s policies, the code of conduct and various other policies that the company has to make sure that identity and gender expression and things like that were covered,” she says, adding that the company’s human-resources team tweaked the guidelines based on her feedback. While she was nervous when sending her message, she says, it helped that everyone was physically remote.
“I could make a statement that was vulnerable and uncomfortable in the safety of my office here at home, and then I could step away from the computer for a little bit and calm down,” she says, adding that she was met with nothing but support from her co-workers.