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How I transitioned at Kin + Carta

Kathryn Thompson
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Like many people, the pandemic gave me time to reflect upon my life. I finally accepted that, for the majority of my life, I’d hidden part of myself away from the world and that I was, in fact, transgender.

When I decided that I really needed to live authentically for my own mental health, I needed support from a lot of people - not least my employer. From this experience, I firmly believe that all companies should support their employees who go through a transition and that everybody benefits from working in a supportive and caring environment.

Long story short

When I was born over 40 years ago, a doctor decided what gender I would present to the world and that I would be a boy. This decision determined the pronouns people would use for me and largely, whether I would have innate male privilege.

Since puberty, I’ve struggled silently for many years with undiagnosed gender dysphoria; the feeling that how I see myself internally is at odds with how other people see me.  Like most people who class themselves as trans, I had an ongoing hidden battle to fit neatly into the gender binary of being either a boy or being a girl. 

My life never felt right. I had a good job, friends, loving family and spare cash, but I just coasted along. I tried doing all of the stuff that others did: I got married, had a child and tried to live but I just wasn’t happy or content like others appear to be. 

Choosing transition

I never really understood why until I started to explore that little box I kept locked away in my head with the help of several really close friends, masses of reading, and a good therapist, provided through my employer.

Transition is far from easy, the admin to change a lifetime of records in different organisations takes persistence and this isn’t even counting the difficulty with changes in personal and family relationships and having to navigate antiquated healthcare systems. 

Changing your gender marker on your NHS record actually requires that a brand new NHS number be created and existing records need to be manually copied from one account to another.

Finding acceptance

I’ve given this back story, so you understand how truly wonderful it is to find a workplace with a culture which is accepting of everybody. 

Kin + Carta has a strong IDEA programme (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness) which encourages the formation and activity of affinity groups to educate, inform and support colleagues. 

Since starting work here, I’ve been interacting with many utterly fantastic colleagues across the globe who live authentically and without apology. After conversations with my amazing daughter, I finally gathered up enough confidence to be publicly trans and start my social and medical transition, buoyed by the acceptance and love I saw within my workplace.

Coming out

I came out to a few select people and decided to use a hybrid approach to announce my name change on our internal Slack. I changed my profile name to 'old name/new name' so people who were remote saw that I was changing my name. I didn’t want to just disappear and reappear with a new name and set of pronouns. 

This change triggered many wonderful conversations with cis and trans colleagues across the world and I talked openly with them about my journey. Colleagues have done their utmost to refer to me correctly and adhere to my wishes. Slip-ups happen and I know that it’s without malice; especially with people I’ve known for many years. I’ve worked with the IT department to document the name changes across the numerous systems and we’ve created an internal guide so it’s easier in future for other people who want to do something similar. 

Sharing the knowledge

Kin + Carta has recently announced a Transition at Work policy which is also being made available to other companies as a template. I’m really a guinea pig for this programme and can say without question that it’s made it easy for me to change my name and pronouns within the company and exist authentically, without fear, in front of my colleagues. To call this a weight off my shoulders would be a drastic understatement. 

I’d encourage every company to explore implementing such a policy to allow people to present authentically. Having this policy in place not only helps people who are trans or non-binary but also benefits the company as a whole as it encourages an inclusive and welcoming culture, showing that you truly care for the wellbeing of your employees.
There are huge numbers of trans/non-binary people who find employment difficult because of outmoded and bigoted viewpoints and companies are missing out on valuable and diverse talent. 

I am truly grateful for those who have come before me and do feel hopeful for the future. My daughter’s generation don’t really seem to see gender or sexuality as anything to get hung up on; love is love at the end of the day and these aren’t discussions we even should be having as it should be inherent in our society and hiring practices. 

For a longer version of this article and more about Kat’s journey, visit this link

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