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Monday, December 10, 2012

Okay...... So What's the Plan,. Stan?

Lying in bed the other morning, I didn't want to get up. I had to be at work in an hour and a half. I decided to drag it out until the last minute. I was sleepy and the bed was warm. Then I began to think about how this scenario wasn't going to be happening any more on a work day in the not so far off future. Instead of sleeping in until the last possible minute, I'll be getting up and putting on my makeup, making sure my hair looks pretty and my clothes look professional and ladylike. I'll be picking out my outfit before I go to bed the night before and making sure my hose doesn't have any runs.

I thought about how much I hate to get up in the morning. Then I thought, a bit glumly, "Remember Sherri. You're the one who wanted to be a girl." Yep. I bought the E ticket and I get everything that goes along with it. Other than having to get up earlier and being more organized, I'm glad, though.

I have put my plan to transition at work and I got a lot of compliments from my supervisor on how well thought out it was done.

I would like to share it with you all in the hopes that it might make someone else's life easier if they choose to transition at work. My plan is specific for a health care professional, but I think there are enough common elements to many employment settings that some of you will find some useful ideas to employ in creating their own plan.

DISCLAIMER!!! : The inspiration for my plan is not entirely of my own creative little mind. I've been studying many resources about how to successfully transition at work and it is an amalgamation of what I remember about what I have read as well as what I thought would be appropriate to my own work setting.

Transition plan for Sherri Lynne

Here is a proposed transition plan to facilitate my gender transition at work.  While it is an idealized plan in terms of the time frames, it may be that these objectives are not accomplished as rapidly as desired for all parties involved because two dynamics will shape the process: 

  1. The process will be disruptive to the work environment to some degree. With care and consideration for my co workers, helping them to become more comfortable with this process, possible disruption can be minimized or even eliminated in most circumstances.

  1. The process will also be disruptive to some of my patients. It is most important to me and the organization that they receive the support and emotional care they require. They need adequate time to make decisions to maintain a therapeutic relationship with me or transfer their care to another professional. 

The target date for transitioning my gender at work is proposed to be at the end of March 2013. 

This can be best accomplished with a planned and intentional response to these needs by me and the organization. In order to accomplish this, a time frame with objectives and dates of completion is proposed to ensure things are taken care of in an orderly and timely manner. It must allow for adjustments to be made as comfortably as possible for all involved parties. 

Prior to meeting with ----------, I contacted the Board of Social Work to inform them of my desire to transition and to seek guidance on how to do this in a manner that satisfies the regulatory duties of the Board of Social Work governing my practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This appears to be uncharted territory for the Board, but I have gotten guidance on making a legal name change so as to not misrepresent my identity in the practice of Social Work. I plan to change my name legally prior to the end of February to reflect a congruent gender identity.

I have been approved to have my gender marker changed legally to female on my driver’s license and the new driver’s license will be obtained by the end of December. It will have an updated photo reflecting my female gender identity. 

The first objective has been accomplished by meeting with ---------- and informing her that I would like to live in my true gender identity at work as I already do in my non work life. 

She will in turn discuss this with Human Resources and whoever else in the Administration having a need to know. 

Upon approval, the second objective will be for me to prepare a letter and some photos to be shared at the staff meeting informing them of my intention as well as welcoming them to talk with me individually about this change. This will help make them more comfortable with me during my transition. It will help identify and resolve any barriers to harmonious work place relationships.  

The target date for this to occur would be at the January 2013 staff meeting. I would not be present for this meeting so that staff may feel comfortable to speak freely and voice their feelings in a supportive environment for them. 

The content of this letter will be pre approved by ---------- and will include several pictures of myself to pass around to familiarize the staff on what they may expect about my appearance in the workplace environment. This would serve the purpose of diminishing apprehension about my transition. 

The third objective (and most important to me personally) would be to make my patients aware of the upcoming transition. This will be more time consuming to complete. My foremost expectation is for the patients to be well served by me and the organization and there be no serious disruptions to the quality of care that my patients receive during this process. 

 I propose writing a letter approved by --------- to be sent to my patients that I have not preselected to be assigned to another treatment provider.  This would serve to simply inform them of my intentions and that I would offer an opportunity to meet with them to answer any questions that would help them in the decision process. I would be willing to offer my own time (two to three hours weekly) to assure that patients feel comfortable in continuing to work with me or have closure with me if they would prefer a different provider. They could ask any reasonable questions about my transition. It would allow them adequate time to decide if they would wish to continue to work with me. 

If ----------------- would like to sit in on any or all of these sessions with patients to monitor the process as my supervisor, that would be welcome. The proposed time frame for this letter to be sent out is in mid January 2013. 

When this process is completed, the actual transition would be tentatively scheduled to be at the end of March 2013. It would be helpful for me to take a week off to allow closure for the staff and me so we will all be ready for my return in my true gender identity.  

It may occur that adjustments to this schedule may be needed to be made to the late March time frame to ensure that my patients’ needs are met. It would not be unanticipated and would be acceptable to me in view of the interest of my patients. The timing for this last step in transitioning at work could be moved to a reasonable date later, if necessary. 

 The fourth objective would help me to be sensitive to the staff after completion of my workplace transition. It has been found to be very helpful in other places of employment if a female staff member would volunteer to act as liaison between staff and the transitioning person for a period of time. Typically, this is worked out between a staff member and the transitioning person. Potential concerns that occur after transition from coworkers or me could be addressed in a manner that facilitates a continuation of smooth work place operations.  

------------ would be identified to approve the person I select as my liaison prior to my asking the person or designate any employee she would not wish to perform in such a function. 

Throughout this process it is assumed that coworkers will have trouble with names and appropriately gendered pronouns on occasion. This is a normal part of the developmental process of a gender transition and is expected. The liaison can be a big support to coworkers to minimize any anxieties about my being easily offended if this were to occur. 

Similarly, if a coworker feels uncomfortable with me, this is a positive way of helping me and the coworker to adjust to different and changing social expectations of me in the work place. It will help create a win- win situation for us all.  I am extremely comfortable in my gender presentation and my identity. I would not want those around me feel like they have to walk on eggshells around me or be uncomfortable in my presence.  

Though I will be differently gendered outwardly than how I have worked here to date, I remain essentially the same person in most ways. I have the same interests and views as I have always had.  

Planning for my transition is more about making others as comfortable as possible with me as much as about my comfort. I value and care for everyone in my work unit. I want to continue to have the quality of relationships with my coworkers that I have enjoyed during my employment here.
Please feel free to borrow freely and tailor it to your needs if it can be helpful to you!





  1. Sherri, I am in the last stages of my own transition to female. I have my surgery scheduled for this coming May. I have a court hearing scheduled for January to legally change my name to Melissa. I am also going to petition the Virginia DMV for my gender marker change on my driver's license. When you sent your form off, did you send any other supporting documentation with it? Good luck with going full-time. It was the best thing I have ever done for myself short of starting on estrogen. I too am a social worker. I graduated this past May with my BSW and am a current graduate student working towards my MSW. I am not currently employed as social worker at this time. I have not had any luck so far obtaining a job as a mental health case manager.

    1. Hi there! Thanks for your supportive comments!
      All you need is an M.D. or a mental health professional to sign off on it. It's very
      simple. In about a week DMV will send you an approval letter. I've written about a dozen for patients and all have been approved.
      I'm glad you are working on your MSW. After you get licensed, a lot of doors will open, but Virginia is a difficult state to get your license in unless you work for a CSB or a state hospital.

  2. JinianVictoria@yahoo.comDecember 11, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Sherri, Bravo! Its a very good plan and should work well for everyone you cited. I wish more of us were this organized. Mine was talking into account I was approaching retirement from the military so that was a bit stressful to start. My friends and family each required deifferent approaches. But everyone has to approach their change as they feel would work best for them. The problem is I think a lot of us go at this halfway and then say it didnt go well and upset a lot of people. I feel at every step of out change (before and after) that a constant reassessment of yourself and those you know should be undertaken at every point. Sure its a lot of work but it works well when done correctly..And finally..I can relate to wanting to stat in bed and sleep especially in the winter when its so cold out but makeup and all the rest has to be done everyday so we learn to adjust. Lol. JinianVictoria