There’s something I need to get off my chest. I’m queer and trans.
I’ve used a lot of different labels to describe myself over the years – geek, goth, autodidact, polyglot, kinkster, polyamorous, third-culture kid, dharma bum, database admin, software developer, cloud architect, VP. None feel as risky to claim as #trans, and yet, none of those other labels are as authentic, none require as much vulnerability to share.
Reflecting on my childhood reveals a difficult truth: when I was in primary school, I was one of the girls. Everyone (except me) knew it, but in a small southern California town in 1992, none of us had the social vocabulary to talk about gender fluidity, least of all me. By the time I turned 16, I had figured out how to pass as though I was over 21, and very clearly “a man”, because this made it much safer to exist in public.
In essence, to survive childhood, I traded the freedom to express myself authentically for a thinly-constructed sense of safety, and I’ve been paying an internal cost for that choice ever since. My close friends have all known … to some degree or another. I’ve always done little things to honor my feminine side, even as my career took off and I became modestly well known in Open Source as a guy. That exposure, that network, helped me learn a lot about who I am and connect with an amazingly beautiful & diverse network of people.
Now I’m done holding back who I am.
Yesterday’s #WomenInTech Summit was incredible for a lot of reasons, and it was the
firs second time that I’ve been at an event with my F/OSS community since openly starting this transition. Most notable for me was the message (carried by several speakers) that we women bring a power, an opportunity, to tech companies through our ability to share our authentic, vulnerable selves. That strength isn’t unique to women.
However, it is the only way forward for me. I know that I won’t be able to succeed in my next professional endeavor unless I embrace this truth.
So, hi there, internet.
I’m a queer trans woman in tech.