Disclosure?

Within the transgender community, there are regular discussions on whether someone like myself need to disclose his/her transgender status to prospective employers. In my recent job applications, I’ve been very upfront about my “trans”-ness. But I also expect other transwomen to have come to different conclusions, and for different reasons. So I posted this question in a Facebook discussion group:

So I’m in the process of changing jobs amidst my transition. I’ve been very upfront about being transgender in my cover letters, and, for the most part, I haven’t had any issues. (May be this is an advantage of living in Canada?) My question is: is it wise to disclose that I’m trans? Not necessary? Bad idea? What are your thoughts?

My personal view is that my employer will no doubt quickly find out that I’m transgender, either at my interview, or, on my first day of work. If they can’t handle me telling them about myself in my cover letter, they won’t be equipped to deal with me in person. Better to find out now before I find myself starting a new job in a toxic work environment.

However, my view isn’t shared by most commenters (all of them Americans, but I don’t know if it’s a factor). The majority view is that I shouldn’t be compelled to disclose unless my references and credentials are under my birth name. (My credentials are in fact under my birth name, and it’s unlikely that most of them will be ever changed, but my point is that I would have disclosed regardless.)

There was, however, one comment that stood out. She noted that if being transgender allows me to bring unique qualities to the workplace that benefits my employer, then I should definitely disclose it. It was interesting, because I actually mentioned in my letter that coming out as transgender had given me a new perspective and be sensitive to the challenges of other vulnerable people.

What do you think? Should I disclose? Leave it alone?

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