Now that my emotions have settled a bit (and I managed to get some lunch in me), I can share the outcome of my coming-out experience today.
I arrived at the office about 20 minutes before the big meeting. I decided to wait in the lobby and chit-chat with our receptionist while my HR manager was out for coffee. As I went over my notes and saw her walk up to the door with our special guest speaker, I could feel the anxiety setting in. It was “go” time. I needed to collect myself, try my best to not get overly emotional, and focus on the next few minutes.
While the previous meeting wrapped up, the three of us talked informally. It was a nice way of breaking the tension that was clearly visible on my face. Colleagues began to come over, chattering amongst themselves and wondering what this was all about.
We all filed into our largest meeting room. I hadn’t realized that this many people would be there. Our HR manager stood up in front of the room and began telling the group that we were all here to discuss a very important topic. She instructed the group to put away their laptops and give their undivided attention. After a brief introduction to the topic at hand, the attention was turned to me.
I had my notes up on my phone and realized I’d probably be looking down for most of this, to make sure I got all of talking points covered. So, I apologized in advance for looking like I was playing on my phone. I took a deep breath and began.
I made it a point to enunciate my words, to ensure the meaning wasn’t lost. “Since last year, I’ve been in the process of legally…and medically…transitioning genders.” Once those words came out, I felt myself choking up. I started racing through the rest of my speech, in hopes I could finish before sounding like I was going to cry.
Through it all, I managed to slip in a couple of jokes to break the ice and, really, show the group that not all of me will change. I’ll still be the same, wise-cracking, dedicated engineer I’ve always been.
Once I was done, I turned things over to my HR manager. She introduced our guest speaker, who was here to give the team a primer on gender identity. As I got up to start walking out, my colleagues began to shake my hand and offer their support. A few people hugged me, too. My HR manager and I walked out of the meeting room, through the office, and finally to the parking structure to see me off. We commiserated over how we had finally gotten through it, and it had gone better than I ever expected.
I really am a lucky woman.