Haunted by a Largely Unwanted History

When I first went full time there were a few weeks of adjustment for people at work where there a few name slip ups or gender pronoun errors, but on the whole it didn’t take long for people to get used to the new, improved me… and indeed after a few months one or two even said that they couldn’t remember me being anyone other than who they now saw. There were also a few weeks of taking care of assorted company systems and admin to get the name sorted out.

So after 18 months of being full-time one kinda expected that there wouldn’t be any recurrence of either of these things. WRONG!!! Since mid-June there has been a catalogue of incidents that has frankly made me a bit fed up… because I have bee merrily enjoying life and yet these events have come back to haunt me several times of a past that I wish has largely not happened, for it was wrong. So the following things have happened:

  • Perhaps as a consequence of me working in the IT department of a big company for a very long time (over 16 years… gasp), I have had to use a variety of systems during that time. For about 14 years I worked on one system, and subsequently on a new system. Just prior to my transition I asked for my logons to be changed or removed. In June I was asked to help with an issue on the old system due to my extensive knowledge, and I was happy to help… and after doing so I just thought I would check that my own specific logins had been removed… AND THEY HAD NOT! I was furious… and so I sent an email to the managers concerned, copied to HR, with technical instructions on how to resolve the issue and asked for someone who knew my history to do the work.
  • At a similar time the provider of catering for my company changed to a new company and so our records were transferred over to the new provider and we had to re-register our security cards. So I went up to a representative and told them my name and he said that he couldn’t find any record at all with ‘Andrea’. I said that was rather odd, as I had been a regular user of the canteen, and so he searched again under the surname… and, surprise surprise, there was my record, against my old identity. So I had the embarrassing time of having to take him and his laptop aside to a quiet area and explain the situation… at which point he said it was no bother (to him, anyway) and he rectified it; it put me right off my lunch though.
  • In mid July a guy in the security admin area was doing a tidy up of old directories on different serves for the department and he sent out a spreadsheet to a group of us with name of directory and owner. In my case the directory was new full name (i.e. andrea.<surname>) and along side it in the spreadsheet was the owner which was my old network logon, (old forename)_m – so not a total link, but suggestive… and if one happened to click on the directory concerned then the owner email came up as (old forename).(surname)@(company).com! So I immediately marched over to a manager again and told him of this issue and how upset I was… so he did that afternoon go over to the individual concerned, get the directory ownership corrected, and told the individual concerned to be more careful.
  • About two weeks later I requested some software to be put on my PC called Lync, it allows one to chat with fellow colleagues for simple queries rather than having to keep getting up from one’s desk or send emails. The set up didn’t go smoothly… at all! A guy did the install but when I logged on I couldn’t see the software… which he said was because my PC was so old. So he did another kind of set up, I logged on, and started up the software… but it wouldn’t connect with my network login – they guy was stumped after trying number of things, and went off to someone else to try and find the problem… and eventually they did, the new software was linked (no pun intended) to my old email address L So they rectified the problem… but I don’t know whether either of those individuals knew my history or not… but now they do.
  • After the above incident I thought I would just check that the first incident had been rectified as it has been about six weeks since I reported it. NO IT HADN’T! What a bad day! So I blew a gasket, sent an email expressing my sincere disappointment at the delay in resolving this issue, copying HR. During that week the issue got sorted… and the bottom-ladder person doing it, a nice Spanish girl, was very thoughtful in carrying it out.
  • The same day as above I had an email reply from head of HR saying sorry that I am getting upset… though nobody would want to upset me. Next day I ended up having a chat with an HR person under her who ‘looks after’ my department… and ended up feeling worse than when I started talking to her, as though I wasn’t the victim at all.
  • Maybe a couple of weeks after all that I ended up in a conversation with two women and a male manager about a software release I was trying to get in place; one woman knows my history, the other who is new does not, while the male does too… and is behind the delay in the first issue being resolved. During the discussion he referred to me with the wrong pronoun… and although he immediately corrected himself, I wonder whether that is further damage done… even if the new girl on a subsequent release call referred to me and another woman as ‘girls’ on the call.

I have recently had one or two bits of mail with my old name on as well, one of which I am surprised about as the bank concerned (First Direct of HSBC) rectified my old name ages ago… and yet the direct debit mandate for my travel insurance that I received a renewal for today is still as ‘Mr’.

So the moral of this story is that although the longer time goes on the happier one may be in this new life, more comfortable in it, and more successful at it (can’t remember the last time, when not with other trans* people, I got any kind of reaction to suggest they either wondered whether I was trans* and/or had an issue with it), none of that means that history won’t come back to haunt you… potentially for years and years to come… sigh.

7 thoughts on “Haunted by a Largely Unwanted History

  1. Whilst some of the old systems throwing this problem up may be in some way understandable, much of what you have listed here simply beggers belief. I am especially insensed by your co worker mis gendering you. OK in the initial few weeks or months that may have been expected or understandable as people adjusted, but not after this length of time. Wholly unacceptable and really he cannot use the excuse of ‘Oh I forgot’. He knows damn well. It is 18months not 18 days. The bank incident is upsetting also. Is there a case of departments within the bank not communicating with other departments? I truly hope this has simply been a series of blips all arriving at once and that matters will revert to normal.

  2. It’s not so much the fact that records haven’t been changed correctly, but that every time it happens it effectively ‘outs’ you to people who have no right no know. HR should understand that, and certainly not dismiss it as trivial. I’m not 100% certain, but I think it may even contravene the Gender Recognition Act, or whatever the equivalent may be in the Republic.
    Beyond the workplace, sadly modern-day marketing ‘techniques’ mean that lists of names and addresses are outsourced even within the same organisation, or sold on again and again to third parties that pay no heed to the consequences of their lackadaisical attitude to data (in)accuracy.

  3. The sad truth is that when we have lived for decades with a certain identity, we leave a record behind us that cannot simply be erased or altered no matter how hard anyone tries or with the best will in the world. It is why true stealth is more or less impossible. There is nothing we can do other than skate over these unpleasant bumps in the road as fast as possible.

  4. Pingback: Fair, Not Fair | Kirsty's World

  5. In the first half year, one can probably find and fix no more than half the places a name is used. Half the rest in the next half year, and half again after that. And one’s name appears in so many places in the computerized era! It is like getting *all* the bugs out of software: the best I can ever do is halve the swarm, and halve it again…
    And please do not stop writing your fine blog! I have tried not to miss a posting, for what that might be worth.

  6. Sorry you are having a difficult time. Where you work sounds less than ideal but I guess it pays the bills.

    You might like to look up narcissism and gaslighting. Narcs never apologise and might say “sorry you are getting upset” rather than saying what they did that caused you to be upset. Gaslighting could be e.g., the phrase “you are too sensitive” thereby questioning what you experienced. Gaslighting is a technique and is named after the film of the same name.

    I had to do a lot of work on these two topics so as to understand my last 10 years. We all can be narcs but some people do it full time.

    Written by a “too sensitive”

    Melissa W

  7. It’s the work you do that ought to matter most, rather than your lifestyle, and that holds true for everyone in the ideal world. If only everyone was understanding and supportive… I do hope that your work environment is now a bit better than when you first shared this post, Andrea xo

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