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Ask HN: How to handle gender transition as tech lead?
10 points by throwaway80808 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 3 comments
Hi all. Sorry if HN isn't the right place for this. Posting from a throwaway account as my main account is tied to my online identity and I'd like to keep this information private for now.

So, I've been the lead software developer for a startup for quite some time now. I love my job and the people I work with, and I'm happy to see the business growing at a faster rate than ever before. As part of my job, I spend a lot of time planning and meeting with other people (department heads, B2B partners and of course members of my own team). I'm basically the company's "point person" on all things tech / software related.

That leads me to my current dilemma which is that I've decided that I can no longer ignore an issue that I've dealt with for as long as I can remember: gender dysphoria. I'm so exhausted. My entire life has become work because I've "checked out" in my personal life due to the pain of having to pretend to be someone I'm not. I can barely look at a mirror anymore and I'm pretty much living my life day-by-day despite being successful in my career and everyone being so "proud" of me. I want to live a real life and not one where I'm pretending to be someone who appears to have their life together.

All that said, I'm worried about what will happen with my job. I'll definitely be "stealth" for quite some time but I expect there will be a point where the people I work with will find out. My coworkers are people that have been part of my life (or several years in some cases and none of them have any idea about this. I'm afraid they'll figure out what's going on and honestly I can't continue to avoid dealing with this myself.

So I guess my questions are:

1. Has anyone else been through this and how did you deal with it? 2. How will my team and other managers perceive me as a lead if they find out? 3. Should I stay where I am and open up to my coworkers or just cut ties with everyone and find another job where I'm starting new?

Thanks in advance.






So I will give you my perspective as a team member whose team lead transition a couple years ago.

The initial announcement was awkward but the company supported her. She must have been in talks with them for a while. At the announcement meeting, she told us she would come back as a female after a short vacation period. HR attended the meeting. They followed up with a clear statement they support her transition and wouldn't tolerate any harassment.

For me, the hardest part was keeping the pronouns correct when talking about them in the 3rd person. Most people respected her after the transition and leadership do not treat her any differently. Some of the people didn't accept her after the transition but HR did not tolerate any harassment. I think she lost some work "friends" but overall she is a lot happier. I think it was totaly worth it. She eventually changed jobs and her new reports don't treat her differently.


There are different types of respect. Most people knew to keep their mouths shut. They have mortgages to pay and kids to feed, so they dare not freely speak their minds.

Even HR is in that same boat, but worse. HR has to act supportive. Don't believe for a moment that HR is free of people with contrary opinions.


If my team lead had a sex change it would definitely make things a bit strange. Not saying there would be discrimination right, but it would 100% change things. I can't imagine it not affecting day to day.

I would suggest stay in your current job until you decide to change, then switch it up for your own sanity. Fresh you fresh job fresh day to day, you know.




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