Her Name Was Steven has lit CNN with a new buzz while today’s new topic became about Transgenders in the work place. While the person speaking had a positive experience, it made me think of someone who didn’t.
Back in the late 90’s, I worked at a (Nameless) Warehouse. Now, when I got the job I admit to being very surprised because they did seem to be an equal opportunity employer. Where I live and during that time, very rare. There seemed to be an equal eclectic mix of all races, all genders, and many, MANY different lifestyles.
However, after two years being into the job, a guy I will call Tim, but we actually nicknamed Skittles, came to work making an announcement. He explained openly to everyone, “I am going to live as a woman for a year so I can have an operation to BE a woman.” And from that moment on, Tim asked us to refer to him as a HER, and call her (we will say) Sarah.
I thought AWESOME for her and what better place to work at then one who had an eclectic mix of peoples…gay, bi, straight, and so on!
Sarah was bursting with excitement and VERY open and willing to answer ALL questions. Me and a girlfriend even made plans to have her over to my apartment one night so we could give her a new makeover, color her hair, go on a shopping spree and so forth. I really thought Sarah had found her bit of happiness and why not…she was on the top of the world about to be what her heart wanted.
Unfortunately, even though the Warehouse seemed like an open place to work by all races, lifestyles, and faiths …once Sarah stepped out of her closet, all hell broke lose. Guys became REAL paranoid about Sarah hitting on ‘them’. Some girls, not many, began slandering and gossiping, as if Sarah threatened them in some way. Then a week or so after Sarah’s announcement, the GL’s (Supervisors) called each department into a private room for meetings without ‘Sarah’, asking how everyone was feeling about it and so on.
I remember sitting in the closed off room thinking, this meant trouble. Something inside said that they were trying to find reason to get rid of Sarah and if too many people had a problem with her, then there ya go.
Not one woman said a word but boy did the guys start spewing crazy stuff like, “I don’t want to be hit on.” and “this is too distracting, so many gossiping about this.” and whatever other foolishness came to their minds.
When the GL looked at me, I corrected every single one of their so-called problems by calmly pointing out how ridiculous they were. I even said, “And no one has to worry Sarah hitting on them since she’s a Lesbian and has no interest in men.” The room became real quiet but the snarkiness stopped or so I thought.
A few months later, Sarah was fired for supposedly knocking over some boxes and “not reporting it”. Sarah happened to be one of the highest quota makers in the Warehouse. She had worked there for two years and hadn’t even missed a day of work. We all knew her firing was bull and a cover up.
Unfortunately, I never saw Sarah again and I soon quit the Warehouse too. CNN’s spotlight on Transgender issues made me think of her after all these years.
I once thought…
keeping secrets, hiding in the dark, is what fueled trouble, speculation, and paranoia. Sarah’s open approach, preparing all of ‘us’ for what she was about to go through… a change…trying to save us from wondering, speculating, or being paranoid…trying to ease our minds when she was the one on the verge of such change…
Well it didn’t save her or make us more comfortable, did it? And that’s what she was more concerned with…making her transition more comfortable for everyone else who knew her, because believe me, that girl was so happy and on so much of a natural high that when the ugliness started, it never even phased her.
I hope Sarah got her operation and found a job that could move past the personal stuff and focus on how productive her skills were and how dependable she was.
I hope Sarah/Skittles found her rainbow….