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Hey reader, I have a question for you. What is it like, being cisgender in the tech industry? What sort of challenges have you faced? Do people treat you well? It must be really scary, being yourself in such a competitive and high-speed environment.
If you’ve never been asked these questions before, then congratulations; you are not an out transgender person who works in tech. In fact, it’s possible that you may have asked somebody else these questions in the recent past. That’s OK! It’s natural to be curious, and I’m sure you want to be a good ally to your trans coworkers. How will you know how to act if you don’t ask questions, right?
Today’s your lucky day, because I am going to tell you the definitive answer to “what does it mean to be transgender in the workplace?” After you read this, you will never have to ask another trans techie about their experiences, because you will already know the answer, and will be able to act accordingly.
Are you ready?
Being a transgender person in the workplace means having this exact conversation, over and over and over, forever. The question can only be answered by the question itself, ad infinitum. We often spend so much time justifying our presence to others that it begins to feel like our reason for being there in the first place. Why are we here? We’re here to tell you why we’re here.
I’m not here to make you feel bad for asking these questions. Well, maybe a little bit, but I want you to understand when your well-intentioned allyship stops being helpful and starts being intrusive. The fact of the matter is that we’ve got a job to do here, same as you; we just have a few more obstacles to maneuver around as we do it.
If you are serious about making your office a more inclusive environment, remember that changing these things is hard work. Your LGBTQIA+ coworkers will probably want to help or advise you, but it’s as unreasonable to expect them to do it all for you as it would be to have employees with mobility issues to commission handicapped parking spots. We can do it, but it’s not in our job description, and it’s an unnecessary amount of physical and emotional labor to demand of us on top of the actual work we are there to do.
With that in mind, here are some easy steps you can take towards making your workplace welcoming to transgender people. This list is by no means exhaustive, but you’ll find that even these small changes can have a remarkably positive effect on morale, engagement, and teamwork.
First and foremost, respect people’s pronouns. Yes, including the singular “they”, and yes, including ones you haven’t seen before. Consistently misgendering people is the fastest way to make them feel that they are in a hostile environment. Model correct pronoun use yourself, and reprimand cisgender employees who refuse to do so themselves.
Will you get pronouns wrong? Almost certainly. Contrary to what the media may tell you, transgender workers can tell the difference between mistakes and malice. When you do slip up, apologize, correct, and move on. Dramatic mea culpas do more to make us uncomfortable than using the wrong pronoun now and then ever could, because it makes us feel like the jerks in the situation.
An easy way to head off these confrontations is to normalize including pronouns when introductions are called for. This might seem odd to you; one complaint I’ve heard several times from cisgender people is “but my pronouns are obvious.” Good for you, but this isn’t the case for everybody. If the only employees in your company that introduce themselves with their pronouns are transgender, then that’s a way they are othered, a marker that they are separate from everyone else. By making pronouns a default part of introductions, then this barrier between cis and trans workers is torn down.
Does this seem like a lot? It really isn’t, but be prepared for pushback. For some people, even this small amount of consideration will be far too much. The people who push back hardest will probably surprise you; some of them will be people you’ve worked alongside for years, people whose politics you thought you understood. Transphobia isn’t limited to any side of the political spectrum, and can be found in even the most empathetic and liberal individuals.
This leads us to a harsh truth. Transphobia cannot be tolerated in the workplace, whether it manifests as refusing to respect a coworker’s pronouns or harassing them for using the correct bathroom. When it occurs, if you really are serious about fostering an inclusive environment, then your transgender employees will look to you for support. Be prepared to offer sensitivity and diversity training to employees who exhibit transphobic behavior. Stricter disciplinary actions may even become necessary.
Being an ally isn’t easy; as somebody once told me, it’s a verb, not an adjective. It means putting yourself out there, to serve as a shield between your marginalized employees and those that would harm them through actions and words. It also means being open to criticism, and accepting that you do not understand transgender people’s experiences the way you understand your own. If you have the strength, humility, and empathy, then you can make your workplace a beacon of inclusion.
Today I get to read about my mom here at Writers Conference – thank you so much Victoria Zackheim – and I want to share with you how I came to know that I had become the woman she always wanted to be.
It was the last time I saw her. She was in an Assisted Living facility; I now refer to our last visit: Assisted Loving.
I went to spend 10 days with her. I stayed at a hotel nearby, walking distance. Our visit was hard. Some days she was feisty and difficult and irritable, and on others she was tender and frail and gentle. Some days she had no idea who I was, one others I was her Amy; some days she was filled with rage and howling noises, other days she was silent and watching cartoons – her favorite. She wore a soiled nightgown and her hair, once coiffed weekly and curled, was now full on gray and stick straight.
She had once been a beauty – a beauty queen – she was now small and shrinking into her own skin; disappearing physically and emotionally.
I spent time down at the bar at the hotel I was staying at, and went back to my room. Undressed, washed up, got into bed, called Ken and chit-chatted for a while. In the middle of the night I got up to pee. I stopped at the full length mirror, and I looked at myself – full on – naked; and I saw myself: a woman who never had kids, a woman who followed her heart even when her heart was cracked & chipped & yes, broken; a woman who was feisty and crazy-ass and yes, often testy and impatient; a woman who went for her dreams and never gave up even when it felt wholly fucking impossible, a woman who chose a creative path – writing; a woman who chose unconventional and rebellious and shaky as her foundation; and as I stood there looking at my body – a body that was slender but not tight, a body that was strong but not muscular, a body that had so many hidden scars that had turned into stardust, and I knew in that moment, in that hotel, in front of that mirror that I had become the woman my mother always wanted to be.
And in that moment, in that hotel, in front of that mirror I let go of much of the anger & much of the disappointment & much of the bitterness I held onto for so very long and replaced that with a profound appreciation that she – a woman who gave up all of her dreams of being an artist and all of her hopes of living a creative life and her desire to be unconventional – that she brought me into this world.
***Thank you Amy for these beautiful words. They reflect so much that is in my heart about my own momma!”
I am so proud and excited to be introducing you to a new podcaster who will begin with us in January 2020. Her name is Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, who is an NYC-based psychotherapist and author. Sherry will be creating SHERAPY, and you can read all about this right here on the website.
In keeping with the theme of awareness and finding the path to travel or detour in life, this nationally known psychotherapist will be sharing your stories with our listeners. Sometimes it is easier to be anonymous (faceless, nameless) when you begin to open up. I agree with Sherry; we must not be afraid of what we think our frailties are; instead, we must strengthen our inner selves to love life to the fullest.
If you have a story or want to share issues, please contact us here at newclevelandradio.net, and your information will be sent on to Sherry Amatenstein. You need not reveal any information to us other than a name and email so Sherry may connect with you.
2020 is going to be a big year for all of us at newclevelandradio.net, and you don’t need to be in Cleveland, Ohio, to become part of the big picture, your PORTRAIT!
There is so much I wanna say right now, but I’ll keep it short & sweet:
Do your life, do it up, do it big, do it fucking epic; do it with everything you fucking have – everything – it’s your life: love it, cherish it, treasure it, hold it dear and hold it tight, do not let it go.
Make art, create beauty, be messy – messy is so sexy.
Hold another human up, champion another human, support another human, ignite hope in another human; and do not give up on your dreams. Do not. Keep going.
None of us are gonna let you fall.
Have a grand day, people, live & wear your life to the nines.
You will soon get to know Amy Ferris if you don’t know her yet. I am her Goddess Sister, and she is Mine! She posted this on Facebook today and it is a reminder that life has detours, obstacles, and shit along the way but we can survive if we are compassionate, caring, and loving humans!
The Words of Amy Ferris – Please, bear with me.
Today is the anniversary of my dad’s death; 20 years today; November 2.
This is one of my very favorite pieces that I wrote about us, and in honor of him today, I share it again.
Every Saturday we took the Long Island Railroad from Bellmore to Manhattan. New York City. The train ride was about forty-eight minutes, station-to-station. At the candy store in Bellmore, he got a newspaper and a coffee with a little milk; and I would get chocolate milk. On the train, we would find seats – two together, side by side – and we would sip and he would read, and I would stare out the window watching the world swish by.
He had been arrested.
A bribery case – the United States vs… my Dad.
He didn’t expect to be caught. He didn’t expect to be arrested. We didn’t expect life to change. She didn’t expect to pawn all her jewelry. I didn’t expect to be bullied and harassed, and to have imaginary friends. We had never known that kind of fear and sad before, and now they had moved in with us, constant companions, tagging along where ever we went.
You don’t expect that kinda shit when you’re 8 years old.
He needed a job; to feed us, to pay the bills, the mortgage, the car, the clothes.
He got a job working at Melvin’s Frame Shop in the West 30’s. Or maybe it was the West 40’s. We would walk from Penn Station, the LIRR, to the shop. His friend, Murray, got him the job. Melvin was Murray’s cousin. Melvin made frames for Museums, and Art Gallery’s and was pretty well known in that world. Elaborate frames. Fancy frames – gold, and silver, huge frames. My dad was hired to sweep the floors, and clean the place. A janitor. He would sweep, and clean, and label frames, and organize things, and I would sit on the wooden table, my little-girl skinny legs dangling, and I’d watch – mesmerized – as my dad swept the wooden shavings from under the tables with a huge broom and dustpan. And Melvin would berate him, in an accent sprinkled with angry. “Sweep here. HERE. This. This. Here. THIS. This dust, and this sand, and these wood chips… and the mess… sweep, god-damn-it, sweep, you lazy man, can’t you see where you’re sweeping, Goddamnit?” And my dad would shrink right before me – right before my eyes. He would shrink, and disappear, and I was so scared he would disappear forever. He was a tall man – six foot one – but Melvin could make him disappear. Melvin had the same tattoos that Phyllis and Henry had. The same exact tattoos. I called them cartoons. I didn’t know what tattoos were. Numbers – like a telephone number – on their forearm. Melvin had the same tattoo as them. I knew about those numbers. I knew that Phyllis and Henry had lost both sets of parents. All four. They had burned to death in an oven. I knew that story. I had heard that story over family get-togethers, dinners. Incinerated, was the word used. I watched, witnessed, as Melvin spewed at my father. Goddamn you, you lazy man. And I would sit on the wooden worktable, my little skinny legs dangling, and watch my dad lose whatever faith he was clinging to while I was clinging to him. I wasn’t sure why he brought me with him on Saturday’s. Maybe he wanted me to know that he loved me. Maybe he was lonely. Maybe because it was a Saturday, and he never needed to work on Saturday’s, and that was our day. But our days were different before the arrest. They were filled with hope and possibility; museums and plays, and theater, and movies and Aunt Jemina pancakes. Maybe he needed to know that no matter what, no matter fucking what, I would love him. We would leave the Frame Shop right on the dot: Five O’clock, and we would walk down Broadway to Penn Station. Stopping at the automat. He would get a hot steaming cup of coffee, and I would get a milkshake. Chocolate. And we would sit at the counter, and I would watch my dad stare into his coffee, a million miles away. And I would make believe that I was a Princess from the Island of Long, and we were having a day out and no one – no one – could find us. I liked that game. And then, we would stand up, and almost on cue, we would both exhale, and then he would leave a tip, a few coins for the waitress behind the counter, and we would walk to the train station, a few blocks away, and climb down the stairs into the station, and find the track number, and go to the platform, and wait for our train, and the train would swish into the station, loud and steamy, and when the conductor said: all aboard – because back then they did – we stepped in, and found our seats, and I grabbed my dad’s hand and didn’t let go.
I didn’t let go.
And I could feel every bit of his sad and his unhappy and his burden and his disappointment and his humility and his anger and his disgrace and his embarrassment and his shame and his worry and his fear and his doubt entwined in my fingers. Our hands. I could feel it. And when I finally caught his eye – when he finally looked down at me – his little girl, his princess – my eyes were saying, you’re my hero, Daddy, you’re my hero. And I think maybe for a few seconds he believed me, and I think that maybe that gave him just a little more courage. A little more hope. At least enough courage and hope to get us home.
After months – day in, day out, day in – my dad was acquitted on a technicality. And our life came back, piece by broken chipped cracked piece. He stopped working at the frame shop and my mother stopped pawning her jewelry and I stopped having imaginary friends and we never, ever talked about that time.
It was taboo.
That huge, massive cluster of shame was hidden deep, tucked away, because that’s what you did back then – when something bad, awful, horrible happened – and it was swept under the wooden table along with all the wooden chips and all the dust and all the shavings; into corners and crevices and cracks and under rugs – hidden and buried deep.
To my Saratoga and Capital Area Musicians;
It was just three months ago we honored the memory of Charlie Eble and raised money for the new internship program. Well, newclevelandradio.net would like to suggest we do it again and start planning it now. Since that spectacular event in May, I have heard from many of you sharing the comment, you would like to do this again (and again). Charlie has provided us the opportunity to put you all together and share the universal language that kept his toes tapping.
So, I begin by asking Patricia Eble Urell, Joel Moss, Sarah Craig, Jim Mastrianni, and Meg Kelly, are you all in? If so let’s select a date and start planning. It seems like we may have missed out on some musicians that were either out of town or had commitments for the day. The sooner we select a date the easier it will be for the performers to schedule the day.
Some of the comments I have received included starting the event later in the day into the evening. Midday for many is a difficult time to attend, and we could see if it brings more people in. Also if we get it on the Café Lena Calendar early enough we might draw more people including the Concert Window.
I look forward to hearing from all of you, you make me smile!
Originally I was scheduled to work double shifts this weekend, but due to a migraine that came out of the woodwork, Rich was kind enough to step in so I could just work my single shift. The pain and blinding effects started to subside on Friday night but this morning I woke up to a dull feeling on the right side of my head which is a typical indicator of what is yet to come. The Amivig has been working but I am getting a breakthrough this month so I will need to monitor things.
As my friend and life coach shares in her bi-weekly podcast, it is all about being intentional in our thoughts and actions that will help us identify the fork in the road we travel. Candace Pollock has taught me a lot through the Intentionality GURUS! https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-intentionality-gurus-candace-2018-19 now heard on many platforms including Spotify, iHeart, iTunes, Google, and more.
Being Intentional has brought awareness of the beauty of life that surrounds us. I hear my voice when I speak and if I don’t think it sounds kind, in the manner in which I would like others to speak to me, I adjust my tone and take a deviation in the path I was traveling.
17 August 1990 at 9:31 am Alex Edwin Hale was born!
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done, but Rich and I didn’t listen!
It took numerous visits to the infertility clinic and many disappointments, including a miscarriage and just days before the invitro, I was molested by a doctor! I almost did not go through the procedure, but with Richard’s support and love and our desire to have a child together, I am so glad I did! The sticky sperm separated enough to fertilize the egg that would develop into Alex, our son.
Today 29 years later, I could not be happier with the young man he is. He too has had his battles from infancy to today, but he continues to get stronger with the adversity of life and is a joy to all who get to know him. Alex continues to amaze me with the knowledge he possesses and the kind heart that is very vulnerable. His talents are remarkable, and yet he does not boast or think he is above or beyond others.
Alex is always the first as well as the last one to care for another, and he lives his life-giving to others, that is his true happiness.
To say I love him to the Moon and Back is not enough to express my mother’s love and respect for him. Join me in wishing Alex (the sports genius with the melodic voice) a H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y!
August 2, 2016, I received a call from my brother Joel. Just shortly before he called me, he learned that our mother had suffered a stroke. That morning still stands out in my mind, as Rich left for work, I went out on our back patio and decided to dig up and transplant a spider plant. The plant was barely growing between two well-thriving hostas. As I freed this struggling plant and replaced it in front of my patio doors, I felt as if I had just completed a decisive action. With a feeling of satisfaction, I smiled, knowing that it was going to be a good day until I received the phone call. That plant today is growing and sprouting new baby shoots each year.
I remember feeling a sense of disbelief; my mom was a strong woman who was 96 ½ years young. My brother had to have his information wrong. However, after promising him, I would get myself together and drive to Michigan to be with mom, I followed up with the hospital to learn her condition was concerning. (Now what does that mean?)
After getting my family situated, Rich, Alex, and I set out for Detroit. All we knew at that time was she had suffered what appeared to be a stroke, was blind, and had no idea what happened, or if anything happened. She had no concept of being blind; she saw what she wanted *in her mind.
Arriving hours later as I approached her hospital room, I feared the worst and hoped for the best. Mom was sleeping, as I slowly approached her and woke her up. She sounded like mom, although a bit confused as she began asking questions about why she was in the hospital. She said she felt fine and wanted to go home. I reassured she would be staying at the hospital for at least the night we had to identify what may have happened. Again, she still had no idea she was blind.
August 2, 2016, took us all on a journey we never expected or planned.
From August 2, through October 11, 2019, I was blessed to spend my mother’s last weeks with her. It was during this time I was able to talk to my mama in a manner I never thought I could. We went from what I depicted as a love/hate mother-daughter relationship to a loving, trusting, mother-daughter experience. I grew up during those weeks, even though I didn’t feel ready for the challenges I faced.
I have not felt the same since the transition from Summer to Fall in 2016. I have held on to the good memories from those weeks, the stories my mama told, some over and over again, while others were in fragments that I may never know the full meaning. During this period, I felt like I was in limbo just as much as my mom. Although there was no hope for her recovery, we also had no time table of her fate. Each day was a blessing and a miracle until she died.
I have been told by the rabbis and the scholarly Jewish community that my mother’s death on the Eve of Yom Kippur, October 11, 2016, was a mitzvah. My mother was absolved of all her sins in 2076, written into the book of life, and with 2077 on the horizon, she would leave this earthly world in the presence and acceptance of G-D. However, ever year, Yom Kippur rolls around as I pray for life,I now remember my mother’s life and the love she shared.
August the 2nd will always remind me of the opportunity I had to care for my mother and create a heartful of loving memories!