Trans person shares her positive journey of coming out in the workplace

Coming out as a trans person in your workplace can be daunting, but Renée Mineart has a positive experience to share.

This article is about a trans person coming out in the workplace. In the photo, the hands of a person holding up a sign with a trans symbol.
Image: Via Shutterstock - Dragana Gordic

Freelance writer Renée Mineart shared her experience of coming out as a trans person in the workplace in the UK. Read on to discover her journey.

Coming out as a trans person in your workplace can be a scary and daunting step in your transition process. You don’t want to be placed in uncomfortable situations with colleagues or possibly lose your source of income. Yes, in the UK, the Equality Act of 2010 means you can’t be sacked for being trans, but that doesn’t mean colleagues can’t make things awkward for you while you’re there.

And we don’t want that. We also don’t want our colleagues to feel awkward around us. We want a positive, harmonious work environment.

When I came out as a trans person in my workplace, I struck upon a simple process that I found to work really well both from my perspective and for the people I work with.

Just a brief background to set the scene. At the time I transitioned (2006), I was an IT Team Leader in the NHS. My team supported around 500 users across an entire county, and we were a pretty big IT department.  

Step 1
The first thing I did was set up a meeting with the Head of HR to discuss my intention to come out as a trans person in my workplace. This was before the 2010 law came into being, so I was keen to get the organisation I worked for officially on my side, and HR was the best place to start. 

Step 2
I emailed my line manager. I find that a well-worded email is a great way to break the news to colleagues. It gives them a moment to process the information and not feel pressured to react or respond right away. Yes, the first few seconds of the meeting that follows may feel a bit awkward. But it only lasts a few seconds. 

Step 3
Once HR and my boss were on board, I had HR arrange a meeting with the head of my department. The meeting included me, my manager, HR, and the head and deputy head of IT. All the key players who needed to know and could make decisions there on the spot. You very much want this to be a top-down process with management behind you, if at all possible. 

In the meeting, we discussed some practical things, like which toilet I was going to use: there was a non-gendered toilet In the building I could use. We also worked through any other questions or concerns management had, but it was all really straightforward and led by me. I had the final say on everything that was to happen.

Step 4
I drafted an email on behalf of the Head of IT that he would send to the entire organisation. I drafted the email for him because I wanted the wording to be just right, and I was the subject matter expert, after all. I also wrote a few paragraphs to the entire organisation, which he included at the end of his email. We then had HR approve the email, and we were ready to move forward.


Photo of Renée Mineart, a trans person who came out in the workplace and shared her story with GCN.

Step 5
I booked the following Thursday – Monday as leave. I spent Thursday and Friday changing my name, bank account details, and all the other things you have to do to start living full-time as your preferred gender with a new name. 

Although, of the two days of paperwork, the thing I did that had the biggest impact on my life was getting my hair done. I had a friend who owned a hair salon, and she scheduled an appointment for me with her best hairdresser, and after the appointment, I looked and felt fantastic for the first time in my life! It gave me a lot of confidence for step 6. 

The Head of IT sent the email early Thursday morning while I was on leave, and he, my manager and HR all had their doors open so people could come and ask questions Thursday and Friday. Included in the email was a lunch invite for Monday at a local pub and an FAQ, in an attempt to pre-empt some of the questions. 

Step 6
This was the most important and ingenious step in the process (if I say so myself). I met with my staff, a huge chunk of the IT department and many of our customers for lunch at a pub. It was a chance for them to meet me as a woman for the first time in a casual setting where we could talk freely, away from work. I spent about two hours with them, visiting different tables and answering questions (also getting some great makeup tips from the women who were there). 

This step was genius because it only lasted two hours, and everyone returned to work and I went home. It meant we weren’t forced to spend all day together with people looking at me, trying to figure me out, and me wondering who was staring at me now. It meant we could talk about things outside the office we might not feel comfortable talking about in the office.

And most importantly, when I returned to work on Tuesday morning, it was like any other day. I had zero anxiety about going into the office as a woman for the first time because I’d already met everyone as a woman, and they had met me. Not a single person stared at me (that I noticed anyway) or had any issues with me as a woman. We had worked through all the questions and issues before I returned to work, which meant we could all get on with work, which of course, was a win for management too. 

Step 7
Lastly, I was very careful to be understanding when people got my name or pronouns wrong. It takes time to rewire one’s brain, and I understood that. I also know that if someone feels stressed about using “she” instead of “he”, they are more likely to be nervous and get it wrong. I wanted people to feel relaxed around me, and sometimes the easiest way to do that is to let people make mistakes. 

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