January 3, 2008

Reflecting on Day 2 at Work

Posted in coworkers, family, transgender, work at 10:39 pm by Michael

After you live for 38 years in one gender, and then, pretty much overnight start living in the other, it’s the little things (not to go TOO Pulp Fiction) that are super easy to screw up.

Today I went to the cafeteria right across from my building for lunch. I got my lunch, and went to pay. Salad by the pound – $5.99 –  D’OH! No wallet! Wallet (new one) is back in my office, in another building, in my jacket. WOO HOO! I have a fiver in my pocket… but I’m $0.99 short. You can’t really put part of your salad back. I told the cashier that I’d come back and pay (which I did). Back outside, back to the rain, down the hall to my office, repeat. Lesson learned – remember to have cash in pocket or wallet in hand.

One of the metrics I used back in September to figure out how “normal” things were is if the first thing that people asked me about when they saw me was transgender stuff, or work stuff. Back then, for the first couple weeks, the curve spiked, and very slowly dropped off. It took about two weeks until half the people started with non-trans stuff, and just pure work stuff.

I was expecting an even higher peak, and an even shallower drop off when I came back to work. I was fully prepared to be answering questions for quite some time. But, this is not what happened. Already, it’s been more than 50% starting on “work”, and not on my surgery “vacation”.

Part of the “normal”-ness of this all seemingly is related to the fact that while lots about me physically has changed – I dress about the same (see picture below), my voice is the same, and the email and f2f conversations that I have with people are pretty much – you guessed it – the same. While I’ve not tried, I’m going to guess that going to work dressed “ultra-femme” (besides being not at all me!) would generate much more of a reaction. I still have the opposite problem, in that I dress so conservatively – even still masculine according to some – that I’m still “read” as male.

I do also think that part of the “normal”-ness is about being comfortable. I *am* comfortable, I feel comfortable, and from what people have said – they see it too. As a result, it leads me to think that it reduces the discomfort, and also helps folks get through this with me much more quickly.

One thing that has been odd though is when people who I run into ask questions about things that I blogged about, but I know I never told them. E.g. “How was Vegas?”, “How’s the Samwich feeling?”, “How’s the Samwich’s tooth?” It’s kind of scary to think about how much you generally remember about conversations, and how experiences like that cause a total double take.

Tonight I brought the big kiddos to see their new cousin at the hospital (Anh and Samwich and some other family and friends were already there). Baxter is super cute, and we welcome him warmly to the family. After the visit, we went down the street to grab something to eat. When we were ordering, the waiter, who was looking down at my chest (I saw him look), said:

 “What will the Gentlemen have?”

I said, pointing to Samwich (hoping he would get a clue):

“Who, the baby?”

He said:

“No, you!”

I said:

“Well, most people don’t call me a Gentleman!”

He looked clueless, and continued to Sir/Gentleman me the rest of the night. Usually, I don’t bother to correct people, but it’s rare when I do, and it doesn’t even register. This doesn’t count as a Crappy Look, but it’s damn close.

Again, I realize that there’s lots of stuff that I still need to do – more hair removal – earrings – maybe a little jewelry – maybe not as conservative clothes (but see above…) – more healing – longer hair. I get it. I’m not asking people to get it by default – but wow, if someone says “I’m not a sir, I’m a ma’am” – why not take ‘em at their word at that point?

Anyway… today was another crazy traffic spike day here in this space – both another article from Valleywag ( http://valleywag.com/340222/what-it-feels-like-for-a-girl ) , and also a Microsoft MSDN blog – (One Louder – Heather Hamilton at http://blogs.msdn.com/heatherleigh/archive/2008/01/03/transgendered-in-life-and-at-microsoft.aspx) – so the comment stream went up both here and in the Valleywag article especially. One thing that’s really remarkable though, is as of 10:30pm PT tonight, the comments are very very supportive and positive. Again, my faith in people is increased. I really do appreciate the positive comments and notes of support. Even the challenging comments – its all good – I’m a fan of transparent and open conversations.

So, for those of you who have spent the time reading and those of you who have spend the time to then comment – thanks!


Posted in family, Identification, schedule, work at 11:23 am by Michael

This morning, besides being my 2nd day back at work ended up being pretty eventful…

Mary and Arthur’s baby was born (below). Congratulations!

For the first time since surgery, Anh and I did our regular morning run. One lap shorter than normal (only 3 miles), and Anh pushed the jogging stroller, but we did it! This was only 4 weeks, 6 days postop from FFS – more than a week (by a day, ok) ahead of when I was told I’d be able to do it.

We got ready, I drove to work, and got my cool new badge (new name, new picture). Here’s me at my desk at Microsoft here in Redmond, new badge and all!

At Work, January 3, 2007

First Day Back at Work

Posted in coworkers, Identification, work at 9:49 am by Michael

Yesterday was my first day back at work fulltime, and “fulltime” as Megan. I’ve been on work email for more than a month now, and come in for a couple of meetings. However, yesterday was the first time that I was really “at work”.

As documented laboriously, the last week of November I had “Facial Feminization Surgery” with Dr. Ousterhout in San Francisco, and had been “on vacation” since then. If you love “vacations” where you get to eat nothing for two weeks, loose 15 pounds, and get a really cool set of meds, then this is the “vacation” for you. Think of it as a facial version of the “Road to Wellville”.

As I’ve been documenting in this space, my experiences so far have been amazingly positive (except for still being called “Sir” 90% of the time). Leading up to yesterday as a result I wasn’t stressed – just thought it would be another regular day. However, virtually everyone that I talked to over the past week asked “Are you nervous to go back to work?” That made me more nervous than anything else – should I be? What didn’t I know? What evil lurked around the next corner?

I can in fact verify that while the men’s rooms in most buildings at Microsoft have blue tile, the women’s rooms have a pink to pinkish hue. Microsoft Pink?

Yesterday was also the day when my email display name changed from “Michael” to “Megan”.

Surprisingly, this turned out to be harder than necessary. Even thought I went to court in Seattle back in December and had my name legally changed to “Megan Jenna Wallent”, due to some lovely Department of Homeland Security regulations, it’s really important for your legal “name” at your workplace to be the same as your “name” on your Social Security card. If not, no can do on the name-change-deal. However, a quick trip to the SSA in downtown Bellevue, Washington solved that problem, and I was allowed to be “Megan”. I was reminded of the great scene in “The Right Stuff” where Gus Grissom was “Allowed” to be “Gus” by Henry Luce of Life Magazine fame, but only because his real name was “Virgil Ivan Grissom”, which was seemingly not appropriate in a to-the-death Space Race with the Soviets.

Besides that, it was just another normal day at Microsoft.

I had tried very hard to make sure that my transition wasn’t a surprise to anyone. Sending mail to most of Microsoft back in September, blogging publicly, well, I thought just about everyone who would interact with me “knew”. Surprising people with a cool new set of 38C’s – not a good idea.

Just as I was about to go home, I had a meeting with someone who just joined my team who was wondering who this “Megan” person was (his guess was someone who had some sort of privileges on my account while I was on vacation)… I think I was more embarrassed than he was that I somehow missed someone who now worked for me!

After a short chat, we got through that, and talked about the work stuff we needed to get through – no biggie.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Posted in family, work at 3:53 pm by Michael

Well, today is my last day of “Vacation” before going back to work…

The only real news for today is that Samwich got his first tooth! On top, front right central The next one should be the lower left central – that one is super close too!

(I wasn’t sure what too call these teeth – I thought they were “incisors”, so I looked it up on Wikipedia – turns out that baby teeth have different names. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_teeth Check it out!)

Lots more stuff to deal with starting tomorrow:

– Name change at work (including a new badge!)

– Name change with Social Security

– Then the cascade of money-related name changes – bank, credit cards, car loan, etc

– And I have to deal with my Washington DOL “F” issue…

Given the way that work has been so far, and given the general reaction that I’ve gotten while out and about, I don’t expect this to be much of an event.

Knock on wood!

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