What’s in a Name?

A MAN IN A frock held up his right hand and said a few words, and I got to fill out some paperwork. It is strange that this process makes me feel better about myself. I abhor paperwork.

Rites of Passage have been sociologically and psychologically important to humans for, well, as long as recorded history. As someone who grew up without cultural roots (or rather, with roots in several different major world cultures) and never identified with any specific culture, I’ve often been a little jealous of folks who get to have a bar/batmitzva, a big ol’ denominational wedding, or the like. I never had those. Heck, I didn’t even have a graduation ceremony!

So a few years ago I started making my own sacred rites, celebrating the milestones of life in my own way. Fuck society and fuck your burn — by which I mean, you should make your own rules, too.

In 2017, I threw myself an unwedding (complete with a tiered cake) to mark the end of one era of my life and celebrate the formation of so many new connections to my chosen family.

2017 was also the year I started to come out. To present. To be present.

I wonder how I’ll look back on this day and celebrate it next year….

Hi, I’m queer and trans

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.