This may come as a big surprise to a lot of TS/TG Folks who come out later in life and suddenly find themselves experiencing employment issues.
It isn’t always about being TS or TG.
When did you come out? Has it been since 2008? Has it been since you got that letter from AARP?
Guess what… You not only transitioned and entered a new demographic but you passed an age milestone. From here on out your employment opportunities are in decline.
All this assumes you are perfectly passable.
If you aren’t you entered a world occupied by many non-conforming people including hippies, bikers, folks with tats or something about them that deviates from the pasty white bread model of conformity.
I’ve met engineers who worked in management but who now work the concrete floors of the big box stores.
I know a number of professors with doctorates teaching as part time adjuncts.
Welcome to the Brave New World Order.
It is part of the oligarchy’s formula for transferring more wealth into their pockets while impoverishing the bulk of society.
Those of us who were obviously different from the cradle have known we are destined to live on the fringes of society from the start. As a result we have honed our survival skills in fields less demanding of conformity.
When I read a piece on Huffington Post the other day: The Challenges of Finding Employment as a 52-Year-Old Transgender Woman by Rebbecca Pell, I really wanted to sympathize.
Nah just kidding… I wanted to say “Kiss your male privilege good-bye. It’s time to cowgirl up.”
Transitioning in Middle age moves one into a category of being different. Like being a hippie.
I served in the Army as a Military Policeman from 1984-1987 and during that time got married. After my discharge I went to college, but decided to temporarily put school on hold and go to work full-time after our first son was born. I worked 11 years for the Department of Energy in a variety of capacities, including managing environmental remediation projects. By the time we relocated to Missouri in 2001 for my wife’s job we had two sons, and I began working for a large Mid-western university as the Operations Manager for a research center. Shortly after moving to Missouri my wife was diagnosed with depression, which eventually led to her being unable to continue working or help with the responsibilities of raising a family. I was working full-time, taking classes to finish my degree, taking care of the boys and the housework, and it finally reached the point where I was starting to get overwhelmed which affected my ability to be an effective parent. So in 2004 we divorced. The safety and well-being of my sons was my top priority and was what ultimately led me to make the decision to file for divorce.
From 2004 on I was a single father, and I remained in Missouri to provide stability for the boys, even though my family is all on the west coast and my ex-wife moved away. I tried to hold things together and provide as normal a life as possible for the boys, but we went through some difficult times given the circumstances, in part because I was dealing with depression. Although I had a good job at the university, money was still tight and things were stressful. But I realized how fortunate I was to be with my kids and be part of their lives every day and to appreciate the time we had together. So I coached my son’s baseball team, went to all their band concerts and school functions, and tried to be the best dad I could for them.
In other words this person was part of the privileged male class.
In September of 2010 I was unexpectedly laid off from the university due to loss of funding for my salary. My overriding fear was that I would not be able to take care of my kids. Thankfully, I had a decent separation package from the university, so for the most part I was able to make ends meet financially. The difficult part was the stress and embarrassment of being unemployed, and the difficulty of finding another job. My depression got progressively worse the longer I was unemployed. Added to that was the stress of worrying about my transition and all the uncertainty caused by being unemployed, and wondering whether or not I would be able to continue with hormones.
You and how many more people your age? Many who enjoyed being middle class just as you did. I watched the high unemployment rate, the houses that were foreclosed on.
Did you think you were special and that none of this could happen to you? Or that your being trans may have had nothing to do with either your unemployment or inability to find new employment?
Finally in September of 2011 I was hired back at the university with the Employee Wellness Program. It was a fun and rewarding job and I worked with a great group of people, and I felt like I got my life back. In November of that year I made the decision to start living full-time as Rebecca, including at work. The transition at work could not have gone any smoother; everyone there was very supportive and understanding, and I felt very fortunate. Even more importantly, my family has been great about accepting me for who I am. So I felt like the worst was over and that I could finally relax and enjoy having a job I loved and being able to live as Rebecca and to have the opportunity to finally be happy.
In the spring of 2012 after some unexpected personnel moves within my department, my position was reclassified, leading to my termination in July of 2012.
You have fallen into the world of contingency employment. We now live in a world where most workers can be hired or fired on a whim. A world where the corporations dictate the terms and ask us to smile when we submit to drug testing.
The problem with identity politics are that they limit people’s ability to see the universality and commonness of issues that are the same issues that affect people beyond one’s identity group.