From a double life to a place of acceptance

March 28, 2019 | GET MORE : Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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Lisa shares her experience as a trans woman for International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Because each person’s coming out process is unique, Lisa’s last name has been withheld at her request. 

On March 31, International Transgender Day of Visibility, we take time to celebrate transgender people around the globe and reflect on the courage it takes to live openly and authentically. The day also brings much needed attention to the discrimination trans people face every day. 

Transgender people come from all walks of life – we are moms and dads, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles and grandparents. We’re your coworkers and your neighbors. We range in age from the very young to the very old. We represent a diverse community of all racial, ethnic and faith backgrounds and have existed as long as humans have been around. In fact, throughout most of human history, many cultures throughout the world have recognized – and celebrated – more than two genders. However, that is not the reality in modern society.  

I grew up in the 70s, living a double life because my family and friends didn’t accept who I was. At that time there were no visible transgender role models. I know the risks of discrimination and hate, which many trans people live with still today. But I’m more fortunate than most.

For the past year, I’ve brought my authentic self to work every day. While the experience of coming out at work was empowering and liberating for me, to some of my coworkers my revelation was a culture shock – some were uncomfortable because they hadn’t perceived me to be a transgendered female. While my overall team was welcoming, it’s been difficult to come out in all aspects of my life; I’m still not out to everyone in my community. But as time goes on, I see things changing for the better.  

A big part of my coming out at work is due to the support I received from the Spectrum LGBTQ Business Resource Group. My fellow BRG members helped me navigate everything from how to change my name in the company director to how to approach my manager for support of my coming out. 

U.S. Bank created gender transition guidelines to help employees and managers understand the different ways trans employees experience a gender transition, and to recognize that when an employee transitions, their colleagues transition with them. The guidelines help other employees navigate the questions I first had when I was ready to introduce Lisa to my colleagues – who do I tell, how do I tell them, and how should my coworkers support me? Importantly, the guidelines were created with the input from employees who identify as trans, including myself. 

Above all, it was helpful when my coworkers mostly treated me like the same person I’ve always been. After all, I’ve only changed on the outside. I have the same likes, dislikes, hobbies and interests and education. When my colleagues recognized my preferred name and pronouns and accepted my female self, I felt at home. We are all humans deserving of respect and dignity.  

Today, U.S. Bank was recognized as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign for the 12th consecutive year. I’m proud to work here and I know that as a visible example of a transgender female at work and in the community, I can make it easier for others to come out and live authentically, too. 

U.S. Bank was named one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and received a perfect score of 100 percent on the 2018 HRC Corporate Equality Index (CEI).This is U.S. Bank’s 12th year scoring 100 on the CEI, which rates businesses on detailed criteria in five main categories, including: non-discrimination policies, employment benefits, demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBTQ diversity and inclusion, public commitment to LGBTQ equality and responsible citizenship.