Close up of woman's face with a single tear rolling down on cheek - When your partner goes from rising star to total outcast for simply being transgender. – Trans Partners by U.A. Nigro

One of the qualities I love about my wife has to be her work ethic. The time, commitment, and detail that she puts into everything that she does is something close to perfect and in some instances, makes me nuts, but I say that with a smile. The same can be said for the effort she puts into her job. A job she has had for over ten years. She is a loyal employee who never took time off, who always went the extra mile, and never said no to the hire-ups. She works for a billion dollar company with thousands of employees. She started as a temporary hire, worked hard and moved up the ranks to supervisor.

“…she was good at it, and they loved her. Then, she came out as a transgender woman.”

It was only two years ago at her company’s holiday party where I spent the evening meeting, and then listening to the department heads and various VP’s of her company as they all raved about her. The night when these same people looked me in the eye and told me that my wife was going places within the company and that job security was practically guaranteed. We ate, danced, and laughed with her coworkers. All of her hard work noticed and appreciated. All for a job that she was never thrilled about doing to begin with, but she was good at it, and they loved her. Then, she came out as a transgender woman.

That was the beginning of her work place nightmare. At that time she had been in therapy for months and started taking hormones. Every weekend was full of new adventures watching my wife blossom into the woman she is today. Then, Monday morning would come again, and all I could do was try to console her. Sitting there I felt helpless. Watching while she put on a costume to go to work and play pretend. Often, I searched for something positive to say that would lift her spirits all while she cried her eyes out in my arms. It simply broke my heart. The human resources department of her company would not allow her to send out a mass email informing her coworkers of her change in pronouns and name. So she continued to go to work dressed as someone else and was forced to continue using a name that was no longer legally hers.

Photo of office with rows of employees in cubicles - Watching your partner go from rising star to total outcast for simply being transgender. – Trans Partners by U.A. Nigro

She dragged herself to that place every day for months. Waiting for the permission to come out of the miserable closet that her job put her in. What happened to the companies rising star? Did her job performance suddenly go down hill all because she discovered her true self? Watching from the sidelines was like watching a horrific accident in slow motion against my will. Just a few months prior to this my wife was on her way to the top. Feeling as if my hands are tied, day after day I stood at the door and told her to have a great day.

“Watching them tear her down over the last year has been horrible.”

Many months later they eventually let her tell everyone her truth. Fighting tooth and nail the whole way with human resources. She was met with smiles and a welcome party. Her coworkers were terrific. I wish I could say the same for management. Here we are a year later, and the company’s future star is slowly burning out. They set her up for failure. Giving her the worst team in the company and overnight hours that most people couldn’t handle. They are systematically pushing her out. Hoping, I’m sure, that maybe she will just up and quit like most people in the company do when they have had enough. That would make it easier on them and this way they wouldn’t look like a bunch of bigoted ass-wipes. Watching them tear her down over the last year has been horrible.

After my wife was finally allowed to send her coming out email at work she took a week of vacation. She wanted to give everyone time to absorb the news and to give herself a break from the hell she was living in. She finally returned to work as her true authentic self. Yes her name was different, and her clothes were different, and she was now wearing some makeup, but inside she was still the same person. Still doing the same job she had been praised for doing all these years. Only now, she is getting pushed out of it simply because she is transgender. We looked into getting a lawyer, but the truth is as a transgender woman; my wife has no rights. The company is not doing anything illegal in the eyes of the law, and they would go to great lengths in order to justify their actions. This is one of the realities of being a transgender family, and we will fight through it, just as we have through everything else.

  • Quiet Dignity

    Might be time to out this billion dollar company. Companies that big have to employ diversity programs to prevent BS like your wife is living through. I served as a diversity facilitator for several years for a major utility. I know it feels brave to endure, but chances are your wife isn’t the only abused party at the company.

  • Debbie Lawrence

    I wrote about this in my book “Living in Stealth: Iron Mask”. The period when you start to transition can be very unsettling.
    There are three key phases of life for transgender girls. Living in Stealth is when we try to keep our true selves completely hidden. We live in crippling fear that our secret will be discovered and that we will be bullied by whole gangs of boys our own age. We experience real trauma on a daily basis for years.

    The Iron Mask stage is that commuting period where we begin to transition, but can’t live full time. We are acutely aware of the mask we must wear at work, church, and home until we are accepted. This is a painful time, and we often lose friends, family, and are pressured to quit our jobs or take transfers. The hardest part of any change is letting go of the familiar. Changing gender is the biggest change of all.
    The last stage, breaking cover, is the period when we transition publicly and the losses are replaced with the new and wonderful people, places, and jobs that truly support who we really are. We often experience new freedom, new abilities, improved people skills, because we don’t have to devote so much effort to hide ourselves, avoid personal conversations, and maintenance of smoke screens.
    The struggles make us stronger people and more effective. We stop hiding and working behind the scenes and step into the light.

    • sophie

      You are right and the in-between period of transition is difficult to juggle.

      For me stealth meant the opposite of your definition: living in my own gender passing for who I am. Nobody knows I am not cis.
      Your definition of stealth I call living in a closet.

    • Nicole V

      Interesting analysis. My experience would order the stages of my social transition as (1) closeted — a. to self, b. to others; (2) peek-a-boo — where you start to peel it away your cover and show signs of your true self; (3) coming out — always in stages, exists concurrently with stages 1, 2, and 5; (4) oops, I’m stealth — “wait… you didn’t know I’m trans?”; and (5) a lifelong situational waffling between accidental stealth, intentional stealth, and coming out all over again.

  • imautobot

    I went to work for a Texas based food distribution company (Ben E Keith) that is listed as being lgbt friendly on Texascompetes. This IMHO is a lie. Their anti-discrimination policy is boilerplate and does not list gender identity as a protected class. I found this out after I’d accepted a position there. I quickly developed an attitude because I knew I couldn’t actually transition there. I’d been showing some minor sign of transition like painted nails, pink wallet, women’s sunglasses… After almost 2 months they told me to resign or be fired. Whether they knew it or not, they either directly or indirectly fired someone who was transgender. And as far as I’m concerned, until their change the wording in their discrimination policy to include gender identity, they should not be listed on Texascompetes.

  • Sarah Gallegos-Berkley

    Is no one going to mention the problematic byline name?

    • Martha

      surname of Italian origin

      • Sarah Gallegos-Berkley

        Yeahhhh. Tasteless.

  • Veronica_Anne

    I went through the same thing. However: it gets better as you will not long have to deal with this horrible company. Someone will appreciate you.
    Or come join the company that I work for. They embrace me: they will embrace you.