I'm sorry, but this is not going to be a happy story.
Several times now, I have heard a respected member of my trans-gender support group, mention that the company I spent 37 years working for, now includes trans-gender medical costs, including GRS, in their employee's health insurance coverage. Each time I heard her say that, it felt like I was being kicked in the teeth, by a horse!
Every day for 37 years, I cross dressed as a male, went to work, and faked it all day long! Never once during those 37 years, did I ever hear that my company supported TG transition in the workplace, let alone that they were willing to pay for it! Sometime after the turn of the century, I do recall the company coming out with an official policy of acceptance of Lesbians, Gays and Bi-sexuals, but never once did I ever hear the word, Trans-gender mentioned. I thought, "Well, that's certainly great for the lesbians and gays, but what about me?" I worked with and for, some of the most trans-phobic men you would ever want to meet. Without a very public commitment to trans-gender employees, fully and openly supported by local management, how could I ever dare to come out?
I never saw the slightest inkling of such support. In fact even though I never presented as a female, I was harassed. Apparently my co-workers thought I was gay. They loved to tell jokes about gays whenever I was around, and several times they even left the local BGLAD number on my pager (at the time, BGLAD strictly referred to Bi, Gay, Lesbian, and Associates at DuPont. There was no mention of Transgender then). So you can imagine the shock of hearing those words from my support group sister. And yet, she was right. I just looked it up here . Now I don't know when the official corporate policy of supporting trans-gender employees came out. The link provided is from a survey in 2004, when I was still working, but I certainly wasn't aware of it at the time. Knowing that the company fully supported me, would pay for my transition, and that local management was supportive of that policy, would have gone a long way towards giving me the confidence I needed to overcome the trans-phobic environment I worked in every day.
My current feelings regarding this extremely tardy disclosure? Quite frankly, I'm pissed!(that's angry here in the US, not drunk) Extremely pissed, in fact! I'm also extremely hurt! In the mid eighties I visited a very kind psychiatrist at Richmond's Tucker Pavilion, a local mental health facility, because I had just read the writer, Jan Morris's book, Conundrum, about her transition from male to female, and I couldn't stop crying! Her life, while unique in its particular circumstances, was nearly a carbon copy of mine in substance! So much so, that eerily I felt like I was reading my own biography! I searched every bookstore in town for her story, but ultimately had to go to the state library to find a copy of it. Whoever has checked that book out since, has seen my tear stains on its pages, and probably added their own as well.
Sitting in my psychiatrists office, with tears streaming down my face, I told him of how I read Morris's biography, and how it paralleled my own life. I saw him several times. God love him, because he was very sympathetic. He agreed with me that I was transsexual, but he didn't specialize in trans-gender care, and knew no one in the Richmond area at the time who did. All he could do was give me the address of Duke University Hospital, who he thought was still doing experimental trans-gender surgery. I was just discovering myself after a couple of decades of being locked up in a very dark closet. I wasn't on hormones, hadn't lived a real life experience, and was not even considering putting myself under the knife at the time. This was back in the mid eighties, and incidentally, when I went back to work, the clerk for our section innocently mentioned something sympathetic, about my trip to Tucker's. I was shocked to know that she knew I visited a mental health facility, and for a while was very paranoid that my secrete had been revealed. Subsequently, I found out that she was responsible for coding my disability pay, and learned that I had been treated for depression. I don't think she ever knew what the diagnosis was, but I was left to wonder.
In the 37 years that I worked at DuPont's largest manufacturing facility in the entire world, we averaged 3,000 employees on that site. Not once did I ever hear of a single transsexual working there! I did subsequently learn of a girl who transitioned after taking an early retirement, and and financed it with money she made later as a real estate agent. I have nothing but contempt for my former employer now, especially their local management, for not making it perfectly clear to all employees, that trans-gender care was covered, and that all trans-gender employees would be fully supported in the workplace! So much for corporate policy, when local management is not held accountable for disseminating, and enforcing it!
For years I languished in purgatory, thinking that my dreams could never be fulfilled in this life. Now at 61, I wonder how many years of my life were deliberately wasted, by local redneck managers, who just couldn't stomach the idea of employees transitioning from one gender to another on the job. I held a semi-management position for the last seventeen years I worked there, and I can testify to the willful resistance of recalcitrant local managers, to comply with corporate policy directives, that they didn't like, and corporate HQ's cowardly reluctance to to make them tow the line.
Melissa (Doing a slow burn, but not for you, my lovelies! XX)