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Overcoming anxiety in the workplace as a transgender man

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience of mental health:

Hi I’m Alex! I’m 26, married, I love art, video games, musicals and I’m also transgender.

I realised that I was trans when I was around 17 and suddenly all the scattered pieces of my life began to fit together, especially the anxiety that had been looming over me for so many years.

When I came out, I started with my family, some close friends and then eventually work. Coming out at work for the first time was scary! I emailed my manager and she was an amazing support from the beginning. They arranged for me to have a day off and they gathered all of the staff and let them know that I was transgender and would be returning the following day as Alex with pronouns he/him. When I returned, my anxiety was through the roof, but as I walked in the building I was met with so much love and support! This was my first job and definitely set the bar high for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

When I started my last job, we would get daily emails with questions on diversity. There was one question about which bathroom a transgender person should use and after some debate between the team, it was clear to me that a lot of the staff were uneducated when it came to transgender issues.

How did you deal with these challenges?

There were several comments and jokes made in front of me, which was upsetting but also made me anxious about hiding a big part of me that I was always so open about in other aspects of my life. I spoke with my manager and we discussed what to do next, as she didn’t want to push me into a more uncomfortable situation.

She spoke to the team about appropriate conversation topics and made sure that she was listening out for any other comments being made. I was then given a date for surgery and decided that I wanted to let the team know why. I was really anxious telling them all, but once they knew, I was once again met with only love and support. I made it clear that I was open to answer any questions and found that I was able to educate them and opened their minds a lot more.

What advice would you give to others?

I’ve since came out in another 2-3 jobs and although it’s still scary each time, I can use my previous positive experiences to ease my anxiety. When I’m looking for a new job, I make sure to ask if they have any groups within the business for LGBTQ+ people to ensure that there will be support in place if I need it.

Transitioning has given me so much happiness and freedom to be myself; my anxiety hasn’t gone away, but it has changed with me. If I were to give some advice to others, I would say be true to yourself, embrace your anxiety and trust that there are people on your side who will give you support when you need it.

To read Mark’s guest blog on Dealing with Depression, click here.

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