I wanted to share my experience of good practice in the Civil Service, as I feel it is a shining example of how an employer and it's staff can embrace the diversity of a team member. I joined in October 2005 as a Trainee Probation Officer. After I qualified in 2007 I went on to work in the midlands field teams and Magistrates Courts, building good relationships with many staff and service users alike. I was promoted to Senior Probation Officer in 2011 and love working for the Probation Service. Whilst it was onwards and upwards at work, I had been constantly distracted by an internal struggle because I am transgender. Without going too much into the history of an intensely personal subject (and a long story!), I had managed to keep my gender identity hidden in the work environment for six years, predominately for fear of how I would be perceived as a trans woman. As I understood it, there was no openly trans persons in my work area and I was anxious that, particularity being the first coming out may not go smoothly.
Towards the end of 2010, I came to terms with the fact I had no choice but to come out and move forward with my life as I couldn't live any longer as I was. I approached the Diversty Manager, who immediateley offered her full support and we put together a plan for me to transition at a place that I would set. We involved the HR manager, and liased with the Director of Executive Services who were both sensititve and commited to helping me move forward. over a period of months we met regularly, sometimes to work out logistics, but often just for support and a friendly chat. At a time when I was vulnerable and fearful, they were always available, none judgemental and most importantly; kept my impending transition confidential. This helped me to focus on the with the day job.
Civil Service helped my transition by facilitating a move to a short term role for six months, giving me space ot adjust, and supported me when I needed to attend medical appointments. We decided together when and how to tell colleagues directly affected by the move and this too went smoothly. I took three weeks off annual leave in August 2012 after leaving one post and returned on Monday 3rd September 2012 to my new role as the person I have always been. Since then I returned to the field, led a succesful team of Probobation Officers in a busy inner city office and have now moved to a new role as Equality Manager, covered the Midlands, for the National Probobation Service. I contribute to my trade unition on trans issues and I'm a regional co-ordinator for LAGIP.
I had lived in fear of what my colleagues would say prior to my transition but in reality people were very supportive. Strong policies, good communication from managers and raising staff awareness of gender diversity all contributed to a life affirming experience.