'Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like, jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair-can't-control-yourself love it. when people call people nerds, mostly what they're saying is "You like stuff," which is not a good insult at all. Like, "You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness."' -- John Green

Life is strange lately. I broke up with one of my primary partners, and have become very close to Liz (my other primary partner). I've been almost living at her house lately, which is to say that the set of nights I've been at her house is the complement of the union of the nights either of us has another date. I'm enjoying being domestic with another person; I think I might be able to get used to this in the long term, which is weird, because...

I didn't really think I'd live this long. One of the ways I keep myself under control is to treat every day as if I might die afterward, which helps me act in the way that I should act instead of the way that I want to. It sort of rubs off eventually, though, and I find myself kind of calmly considering the possibility of my own death from time to time. I'm in a high-risk population for assault and murder, and I am more or less at peace with that - I've lived my life in a way I am proud of, and I will continue to do so. Still, it's sort of odd to think about - I was washing dishes when it occurred to me that a year ago I didn't think I'd make it to twenty-one, and so on.

Only recently did I become comfortable with playing male characters in games again; I wonder what this says about my internalized view of my own gender.

So tired. I'm exhausted all the way down to my bones now; I feel a strange and worrying tension across my chest when I breathe, like that odd feeling of a muscle that is too taut, but it never seems to go away. I haven't slept properly more than one night a week in months now, I think. The attacks of paranoia at night (and the corresponding need to sleep with the lights in my apartment on) are getting worse; thankfully they seem to be banished by sleeping with another person and a dog in the room.


Aug. 22nd, 2010 01:00 pm
Life is so amazing right now.

I started work at Google (as I mentioned in my last entry); so far, it's been
going fantastically well. The work is placed almost entirely in the upper-right
quadrant of The
Flow chart
, since it's stuff in an area that I have a lot of practice in
(operating systems work) but still involves solving some new and interesting
problems. The work environment is fantastically trans-friendly and generally
accepting of my personal weirdness, and I really like all my team members. I'm
getting to the point where my social life is actually overscheduled, so I think
I'm going to have to duck out of the office MtG group.

I got class like a '57 Cadillac
And overdrive with a whole lotta boom in the back
You look like you can handle what's under my hood
You keep saying that you will; boy, I wish you would

I met a girl. A Girl, in fact. Maybe The Girl. I'm talking about Liz, one of my
primary partners, who has been teaching me how to cook and is generally a
wonderful human being, her threats to redecorate my apartment under the cover of
darkness or bondage notwithstanding. I've also been attending Mob meetings, which seems so
far like a great way to meet more interesting people; I met a person there who
gave me some useful advice about nutrition, which is important, because...

Since I last wrote, I've gone from being a vegetarian to being a vegan. This is
still proving quite difficult, and the error rate is much higher than when I was
vegetarian (it's a lot harder to ensure that something has no animal products at
all than just no meat). Still, I'm doing okay - I'm taking multivitamins, and
Liz is a marvelous vegan cook. She's been teaching me how to cook, which is a
useful confidence-builder.

Went out to dinner with my parents last night and invited them to Transcending Boundaries; Liz
and I are both going, so we thought we'd invite my parents as well, as they've
often asked for more information about transgender issues. We had a lovely time,
and I ended up going out for breakfast with Liz and her friend Nora this morning
as well.

There's a bookstore near my house which repeatedly takes my money in exchange
for books. I've gotten Zami:
A New Spelling Of My Name
, The
Well of Loneliness
, and Queer
Globalizations: Citizenship and the Afterlife of Colonialism
. These are all
really interesting and I wish I had more time to read them; I'm like 40 pages
into Zami and liking it a lot so far.

Trying to get a job as a transgender person is one of the most difficult things one can do, so I feel like it's important to highlight the exceptions from my own life. These are a few of the places I applied to and the way I (and they) handled my gender identity.

Google: Did a fantastic job. I more or less explicitly outed myself to my Google recruiter partway through the hiring process, and they have been nothing but respectful and helpful. During the orientation process, one visits the mothership (Google Mountain View) for a week to become orientated; during this time, it is apparently traditional to share an apartment with other Google people for a while. The form I got about this was rather upfront about gender, asking me to identify myself as either male or female so I could be housed appropriately. I didn't know what to do, since I didn't want to live with men and didn't think women would be comfortable living with me, so I asked my recruiter for help, and he got approval for me to just have a hotel room during this part. I still haven't asked him what to do about bathrooms at the Google office; I'll wait and see what the situation is first, but I have my fingers crossed for genderless bathrooms.

Microsoft: Also awesome. I didn't out myself explicitly, but word worked its way somehow from the Microsoft employee hosting me during my interviews to a general manager (!) who transitioned in full view at Microsoft. This general manager contacted me personally to ask if I had any questions about being transgendered at Microsoft, which was an amazingly useful personal touch, and very thoughtful of them. From em I found out that their health plan covers the entire transition process, including some absurd amount of cover for cosmetic surgeries involved in transition like FFS, which is completely awesome. (I believe Google's cover is also really good, but not as amazing as Microsoft's.)

Apple: Huh. I showed up at their offices in Cupertino. While I was idling in the lobby, I noticed that their transgender nondiscrimination policy - specifically and only that particular policy - was posted on the wall of their lobby, which was very, very weird and not a little unsettling. At this point I was using resumes with my legal name on them, since my transcript from my university would have that name on them. I had not told HR explicitly that I was transgendered, but I had expressed that I preferred to be addressed as 'Elly' whenever possible. No luck here. I had eight interviews on my first day; every single interviewer decided that "Hey, I notice you introduced yourself as 'Elly', but your resume says '<my legal name>' on it. What's up with that?" would be a fantastic icebreaker, so I got to out myself to every person I interviewed with in succession, which made the ensuing interviews about as awkward as you'd think.

Factset: Outed myself explicitly to the director of HR after interviewing all day. He didn't seem surprised, but didn't know whether they had a nondiscrimination policy or not (!) or whether their health plan had any coverage for transition-related things. In general, they handled it like I'd expect a finance company to, not a software company. I shouldn't have even interviewed here; I was a terrible fit and wouldn't have worked there even if I'd had no other options.

In general, I consider myself phenomenally lucky to be a programmer. The software industry seems to be almost uniquely accepting of weirdness among its practitioners; I have never heard so much as an unkind word from a coworker or recruiter or anyone. When I was undergoing active therapy, one of the things I did was a 'group education' session, during which a bunch of people in or about to be in transition had a bunch of people who had transitioned come in and talk to us about the effect on their careers. I'll always remember, I think, hearing about a thirty-year partner of a law firm who was fired out of hand the day she came out, and I'll always be eternally grateful that I'm not in law or business because of that.

August 2015

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