Pages Navigation Menu

A Resume for Your New Role (1990)

A Resume for Your New Role (1990)

©1990, 2013 by Dallas Denny

 Source: Denny, Dallas. (1990, Fall). A resume for your new role. Insight (Montgomery Medical and Psychological Institute), pp. 14-15.






A Resume for Your New Role

By Dallas Denny

Most Americans have to work for a living, and persons with gender dysphoria are no exception. Unfortunately, finding employment is a major hurdle for most transsexuals—and surgical reassignment isn’t an option unless you have proven yourself successfully employed as a woman.

Some transsexuals transition on their jobs, with greater or lesser success. This is not an option for most, however, and this means finding a position in the gender of choice. A lucky few are hired after full disclosure, but the goal of real-life-test is that nobody knows—that you be hired as a woman or a man, and not as a transsexual. In addition to obvious problems of appearance (the presentation has to be convincing), the employment and education and histories of the individual can reveal the wrong gender. This will most likely lead to a decision not to hire. To this end, a little foresight in preparing your resume may lead to increased probability of landing that job.

There are resumes and there are resumes. The format, style, and physical appearance of yours will make either a negative or positive impression on those who read it—it is, after all, a one or two page summary of your life. You should prepare yours with care, making certain it is neatly typed (or pay a few extra dollars to have yours professionally edited and typeset). Brag on yourself. Make your old job sound important. Look at the resumes of other people, incorporating those things you like. Stress your education if you are young, and your accomplishments if you are older. Buy a good resume preparation book and study it.

Your gender dysphoria will cause special problems. Certainly, you shouldn’t list your original sex on the application. Omit it entirely, or be brazen and write female or male, as the case may be. A stereotypical masculine or feminine birth name will give you away, but this can be changed by court order and subsequent modification of your work and school records. Start early so everything will be in place by the time you are actually job hunting.

But how can you guarantee you won’t be given away by your references? You can’t. It takes but one remark from one individual and the cat’s out of the bag. Obviously you should remain on as good terms as possible with your past employers so they will won’t gleefully tell others about you. You may even be able to discuss your conundrum with former employers and, with their assistance, prepare a resume without gender-laden terms such as he and she (be sure it doesn’t sound too awkward) or substitute pronouns appropriate for your new gender. With such a letter in your file, the personnel department (especially if you have spoken with them beforehand) will send it in response to queries, and you’ll be home free. You can even attach a copy of the letter to applications—it may satisfy your prospective employer.

Even with good intentions, those who knew you before will find it difficult to talk about you without using the old pronouns. They’re the most likely to give you away on the telephone. For this reason, you should be careful about putting phone numbers on your application. Be creative: you can say that you’ve forgotten the number. It will help if you worked at one place for a number of years; employers are unlikely to go back more than three or four years.

Use your contacts in the gender community as personal references. They know you in your gender of choice and will naturally use the correct pronoun. If necessary, stretch your time of acquaintance. Turn six months into two years. Be sure to pre-warn your references so they will verify your story.

If your past is filled with extremely masculine things (Marine Corps, military school, men-only civic organizations)—or feminine things like Brownies, if you are female-to-male—you may need to omit them—although you may be able to successfully disguise them, and in some cases, even use them. Your prospective employer is unlikely to know that small private school in Alberta had no male students when you attended. But you may have no choice but to leave out the fact that you graduated from the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina (although you may be able to bluff your way by saying your father taught there, and there were special classes for the children of faculty). Even though you may be proud you were once the president of the Women’s Club, it will be better to leave that fact out of your resume.

Your resume won’t guarantee you that job, but it can help to pave the way for you. Give yours the attention it deserves, and it will serve you in good stead.