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I'm asking for a friend. She is a trans female and has decided to start her transition. She currently lives and works in Spain at a call center.

She hasn't disclosed the current situation since there has been no need at all. However, given time, the effects of the transition will start to be noticed and she'd like to be able to dress appropriately to the gender that she identifies with.

The relationship with management is not entirely ok, but as I understand it, if she were to notify, they should be the first to know about it. There are currently negotiations on position and relocation going on, but so far, I had advised her not to use this as a reason to justify her relocation or position. While it is convenient for her, I believe that bringing such a personal matters into the negotiations could leave her in a position where things escalate very quickly from disagreement to legal action. However, if she just says that it's for "personal reasons", it could not be alleged that any discrimination is taking place (and even better, she would not be discriminated against).

But still, the point is that they'll eventually have to know. When would the right time be for that? How should she approach it?


When and to whom should a trans-person disclose their situations in their workplace, in hopes of not affecting the business relationships?

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That is difficult. Certainly she would want to tell them when the physical changes become obvious. If she is taking hormones, there may be behavior changes that occur before seeing something physically different, I don't know but I know there were emotional sensitivities I had before menopause that I didn't have after, so it is certainly likely that some things might change when the hormonal levels change. If people are going to notice anyway, you can't hide it just like when women get pregnant.

However, since her relationship with her management is already strained, I would likely take the following steps before having the discussion (some of which might need to happen before starting the transition):

  • Saving enough money to get by for a few months if I get fired on disclosure
  • Consulting with a therapist who has experience with clients these issues about the timing and advice for how to handle the discussion.
  • Consulting with a lawyer to find out what legal rights she has concerning employment and getting fired for disclosure. Depending on what the lawyer says, I might ask him to accompany me to the HR meeting where I make the disclosure.

I might consider those steps anyway because you never know how people are going to react.

I haven't dealt with these issues specifically, but I would not be surprised to find out that many people use the transition as a time to change jobs, so they stay male at the old job and apply for jobs as a female or vice versa. It is easier for people who have only known you as Joan to accept you than for people to accept that John in accounting is now Joan. The beauty of this is that if you tell the new job about the transition (because your background checks are all under the old name), then you know they will be more accepting if they want to hire you anyway. The drawback is the background check might make it harder to find that job.

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    "Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst" sounds like good advice for any major life change that others may have opinions about. Beyond that, I agree that seeking advice from folks who have dealt with it would probably be wiser than seeking advice from an undifferentiated mob of network users who on average know almost nothing about that specific issue. – keshlam Apr 21 '16 at 22:31
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I am not sure there is a 100% solution that fits all.

In my position, I informed the HR manager about 6 weeks in advance. This was done on the understanding that it was very confidential at the time. I also told my manager, but this was more of a 'friend' conversation when stressed and not at that stage a necessary part of the process.

This gave HR time to arrange some things and also acquaint themselves with the process. It is entirely possible that any HR manager, however good they are, has never had to deal with this situation in advance. In the week prior to transition the HR manager sought permission (and was given permission) to involve a couple of other specified people for dealing with some specific areas.

I took a weeks holiday at that time, giving HR a chance to cascade out the briefings. There are various legal situations that the company may need to deal with. Some peoples behaviour to a person who is transitioning may be illegal and the company may well want to gently brief staff of what is not acceptable.

Note that while in some ways it may be preferred to wait for physical changes to become noticeable this might not be possible. It is commonly required that trans people spend some time 100% in role before being given access to hormones. Commonly this is a minimum of 3 months in the UK under National Health Service processes. While there are ways to bypass this, doing so may not be an option for the individual. Further it is likely that emotional changes will kick in before physical changes and it might be preferable to have some work place support before this happens ('Bob' running off to cry in the toilets when a minor distraction triggers a cascade of emotions may not be dealt with as well if nobody knows why this might be happening).

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