26 February 2012

FTM Chronicles: Job Interviews

Interviews can be tricky. Maybe you’ve pumped yourself up and walked into the building confidently, but then the nervousness comes back as you make your way to the proper room or as you wait to be called in by a secretary. What to say, what not to say. Everything is going through your mind. Did you remember a pen? Are you wearing appropriate clothing for the job? Time keeps ticking as you wait to start. Then… here he comes and shakes your hand firmly, “you must be Mr. So-and-so. Pleasure to meet you.” You let out the breath that you didn’t even know you were holding.

For some, this process is not scary, but for a trans guy, it can be horrifying. On top of the typical nervousness that comes with a job interview, you have your gender to worry you even more. For a pre-HRT guy, it is normally worse. They may get misgendered a lot and on the phone interview or email, you presented as male. Then comes the interview, and they start messing up on pronouns. If you have not had your name changed yet and are pre-HRT, then it may be even more nerve racking when trying to explain. If you are already on HRT and have a high pass rate (mind you I hate using the term ‘pass‘, but it will help explain in this article), but have not changed your name, then it may or may not be easier to explain. Then there is that stage where you are on HRT, had your name change, but your gender marker is not changed. You get stuck wondering if they will harp on that at all. Depending on the job, they may have different uniforms for male and female. An example may be in security, some have male and female ties for their employees to wear. So how do you know when and how to tell your possible or new employer about your transition or if at all? Let me tackle these one at a time.

First, pre everything. This is the hardest. Some may say not to tell them during the interview process at all and wait to see if you are hired before talking to your employer. You may or may not be able to do this. Personally, when I was pre everything, I held off on telling possible employers because I found that if I did disclose this information in the interview, then I did not get the job. It all depends on the interviewer and how the process was approached. Use your own judgment because you do not want to put yourself in harms way.

Second, pre HRT but had name change. Depending on how you pass will determine if you need to disclose anything. If you go in there, the interviewer is using the proper pronouns, then you know you are fine until at least filling out the hiring packet and such if you get hired. If that happens then just fill out the paperwork. Do not ask questions on gender or name change. If it asks for a prior name if applicable, then put your old one down (even if your record is sealed). The interviewer most likely will not even look at that since that is back office stuff. When you hand over your id for the one identification part, just do so. In some states, the marker is so small, that they will not notice it since it is not what they need to type in. If it comes up, then discuss what you are comfortable with.

Now, if they did not start with the right pronouns (maybe they do a double take or looked confused when calling your name), then just merely correct them. There are enough androgynous people out there that they may just feel like they messed up and will then apologize.

Third, started HRT but not name change. Now it gets easier. They most likely will not even bring it up, but if they do, then just say what you are comfortable with disclosing. Hell, even blame your parents. Just claim they were hippies or whatnot when you were born and they gave you a girl’s name. Things get easier on HRT in this department because they do not look at your identification until after hired so your gender marker will not pose as an issue in the hiring process especially once on HRT and having had a name change.

Lastly, on HRT, had name change, and gender marker changed. My best policy in the case, go stealth. No one needs to know your personal life nor your past life. Work is work. It is not personal. You can be out about it, sure. But only do what you are comfortable with doing and what will benefit your career. I know guys that are teachers and stay stealth entirely because of worrying it will affect their career.

I want to say a few last things before ending this. Be safe and be cautious. Just because someone is gay friendly, gay, or liberal, does not mean they are trans friendly. Always put your life and career first. Do not put yourself in harms way. There are a lot of assholes in the world that will not think twice before doing something stupid. I do not want to wake up and hear about a brother, or sister, of mine getting hurt or worse. So always use caution and safety. Next week I will tackle correcting co-workers who are misgendering you, whether an accidental one time thing or on purpose to be ignorant.

Be safe, ya’ll.



  1. Hey, I am an interviewer who is trans-friendly, and was wondering if you could give some advice for someone on the other side of the desk if there is a question of gender. I typically try to use gender neutral language, but that can get awkward. Is it appropriate to ask for a preferred pronoun, or does doing so make it more awkward for the interviewee? My biggest worry is mis-gendering a potential employee and making them feel unwelcome before they've even started.

  2. I apologize for the delayed response. I personally would go by what they represent themselves as. For example, if they appear as male (short hair, tie, using male pronouns in reference to themselves), then go with male pronouns and vice versa with females. I know when I did my phone interview, the person asked for me, and I responded with "this is he." He has never slipped on pronouns luckily, including when introducing me to my new coworkers. If he had asked which pronoun to use, I would not have been offended. I would have simply answered with my preferred pronoun usage (male). I will write about the next step, once hired and dealing with being misgendered, next week. I hope that helps you. Any other questions, feel free to ask.

  3. It is completely acceptable and polite to ask someone's preferred pronouns and if they have a name they prefer to have used. It is always better to ask than to assume, as it helps the interviewee to know that you are dedicated to respecting them and their gender presentation, and it may serve to help them relax as well.

  4. Yes never assume gender. It doesn't matter what someone looks like to you. They may look Masculine but prefer female pronouns. It's very offensive to assume what someone uses as a pronoun. It's very endearing and acceptable to always ask, It creates a comfort level, for both you and the interviewee.

  5. There are some employers that include gender orientation in their non-discrimination policies. That however does not mean that the employees practice tolerance or acceptance. It does however give you a means to take action if/when problems arise. For most corporations you can find their diversity policy on their website. It's easiest to just go that route when you can. (besides it's the same companies that are going to give good benefits as part of compensation package)