June Pride STEM Stories- Stella

(From June 2nd, 2017)

“I’m a mathematician who does CS research for a government consulting firm. I’m also bisexual and transgender. I’ve been shocked at how accepting my university professors (U. Chicago) were, and how accepting my company was (seriously, how many billion dollar cooperators are places where an autistic trans person would feel comfortable?)…

I work in the cooperate headquarters, so I rub elbows with 50 year old execs relatively often for a 23 year old. What really stood out was the basic courtesy and respect offered to me on a daily basis, both by my team and by very senior people at the firm. I’m AMAB genderfluid and usually prefer to present femme at work, and when I show up in heels and a dress I regularly get compliments on my necklace or hair of whatever. There’s obviously been some pretty serious sensitivity training, as no one bats an eye at seeing me in the woman’s restroom (there are no gender neutral ones, and when bit given that option I prefer to code femme), whether I’m wearing a dress or a button down shirt. I used to feel a lot of anxiety about that, going as far as applying makeup before going to the bathroom, but over time I just realized it was totally fine. There’s obviously been space made to teach people about trans people, but at the same time the reason I know that is through the actions of employees, not because it’s being flouted everywhere.

There’s also the systemic things that you notice that are very little work, but [company] has put in the effort. You can change your gender (options M, F, undeclared) at will on your cooperate profile. I recently found out that we are the primary sponsor of D.C. trans pride (I might be marching in it! Not sure if I want to, but I can). You can set a preferred name (the system needs your legal name for obvious reasons). Each time I discovered a thing like this, I felt a little bit happier and a little bit more welcome.

Another thing that is fun is that the people at the security desk regularly “sir” or “ma’am” me depending on my outfit that day…

Re: autistic/ADHD stuff, things are a little more complicated. My first supervisor is ADHD, which has been a huge boon (she’s also an incredibly awesome woman in general). I chose to come out to her because I felt comfortable doing so, and she’s worked with me to help me with some disabilities stuff. Honestly, things re: disabilities are a lot better than I’m used to. My work is interesting and challenging, but when I was at the University of Chicago I was working 60 hour weeks regularly. Having adapted to that (and receiving limited support at UChicago because UChicago assistance sucks) the decreased workload of “merely” a 40-hour work week had greatly eased my transition.

There isn’t a lot of specific support though. I wish there was more, especially professional development/teaching corporate environments type stuff, but as far as I know that doesn’t really exist.”- Stella

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