My work transition

Author: Maria WheelerDate: 2 weeks 4 days Ago

The Start….

I started my transitioning journey in March 2017, it had been something I had lived with for many years, but finally I felt I had to live my life as my true self. As with these things it wasn’t an instant thing, but more of a process to go through. A common concern for those going through the change is how will I be accepted firstly by my family and friends and then by my work colleagues.

My work transition has gone reasonably well on the whole, with most people are very positive and treat me like any other female employee!! Which is all I can hope for!

Working in two genders….

The transition at work wasn’t without its challenges, not least of all working across two contracts in different genders! As you can probably gather I was an interim working for West Norfolk CCG, my contract with them was ending and I was starting a new one with Thurrock CCG. Thurrock were without a CFO and so I agreed to straddle both organisations, to cover the statutory post in each. I had planned to transition at work in my new contract at Thurrock CCG which is what I did on 9th April 2018. But for the first month working 2 days as a man and 3 days as a woman, and then visa versa! I was sending e-mails as a woman through my male mail box and then sending as a man sending through my female mail box! All very confusing but some how managed not to sign off using the wrong name!

My first week….

My biggest fear of transitioning at work before I did it was going into a big room of people and introducing myself. On my first day at Thurrock, in my first hour I was introduced to the whole staff in a team meeting, my biggest fear conquered straight away! I had my first regional CFO meeting a few weeks later, and had to do it all over again!

During those first few days I had year end review meetings with colleagues at NHS England, one with West Norfolk, the next day one with Thurrock. The same NHS England team, me with a different CCG and presenting in a different gender! I have to say NHS England colleagues were absolutely great, no sign of a stumble over my name or pronouns, and there were people there I’ve know for many years in my old gender, but they were flawless!

Another big difficulty was answering to my female name at work! This was made more difficult by the fact a director colleague was called Mark, which was my male name. In those first few days and weeks, every time Mark was mentioned I looked up expecting someone to be talking to me! In fact in my second day at Thurrock we had an exec catchup and one of the execs said “Mark when are you free this week”? I said “I’m not sure I can meet” and she looked at me and said no Mark not Maria! Everyone thought it was hilarious, whilst I was left a little red faced!  

Issues….

Although I feel my experience has been a good one overall, there has been some negative times. The main area of difficult has been the use of incorrect pronouns. Even though I try my best to look like the woman I am, some people still used terms such as he, his or him. I honestly don’t think they mean to be hurtful, but largely a lack of understanding of what being a transsexual is.

It is so important to address people by their correct pronouns, it warms you when people do. I’ve even been known to read minutes of meetings several times over when they’ve referred to me as she or her! But sadly it’s deeply upsetting when people get it wrong.

Overall…..

I have to say that my experience transitioning in the NHS has been positive. Before taking this significant step, my measure of success, was to be accepted and treated like any other member of staff. I can honestly say this has happened 100% with everyone I work with across all the organisations I come into contact with. I can’t ask for anymore!

I would like to thank all those I work with but a special thank you to my two bosses that saw me through the transition. John Webber the Accountable Officer at West Norfolk who provided loads of support and gave me the confidence to transition in the workplace. Mandy Ansell at Thurrock who made sure everything was perfectly in place for when I walked in on that first day. I will be ever grateful to them, and they will both have a very special place in my heart for their help and kindness they have shown me.

I hope sharing my experiences has been helpful, if anyone reading this would like to make contact and discuss the details above, I’m very happy for you to do so.

Maria Wheeler

Chief Finance Officer

Thurrock CCG