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Preparing for Full Time By Denise Anne Fell

When I first began on hormone therapy I knew that the day would come when I would have to start the Real Life Test or as commonly called Full Time. I began planning how I would prepare for this day but even more important how I would prepare the people that I work with. I mean going to work one day dressed as a male and coming in the next dressed as a female is not an everyday occurrence.

I made an appointment with the head of our Employee Assistant Program provider. I explained my feelings to Cynthia at the first meeting and told her of my plans. This was prior to my first injection. I had an appointment between the first and second injection and we talked about what I should do. At one point I actually thought about requesting an early or disability retirement or just resigning and start working out of my home.

As things began to develop more rapidly that I expected, I knew that I was going to have to let someone in management know. I gave some serious thought about who I would feel comfortable talking to about this matter. I decided on the Section Chief. She is between my immediate manager and the Branch Chief. I asked her if we could have a private talk. When she suggested her office, I asked for the Conference Room. She gave me a funny look and said she could meet with me at 1:00 that afternoon.

It was a long 3 hours.I sort of beat around the bush, and finally asked if she knew who Christine Jorgensen was. She replied no. I said Dr. Renee Richards, she said no. I said Tula? She said yes. I said "He is going to be a she." She said who? I said me. I asked her if she had noticed anything different about me. She said your hair is longer. I said, no, something else. I sat up straight and her reply was, Now that you mention it.I explained that I had thought about retiring or quitting, but I did not want to. She said then don't. She also assured me that I would not be harassed by anybody in the Branch, at least during working hours. I told her that I had scheduled an appointment with a Labor Relations Specialist and that I would talk to her about my options. We left if at that and went back to our respective areas.

We met again the following week. I said that I would like to have a branch meeting, at which I would not be present, but I would arrange to write a letter to my coworkers and that I would ask the EAP Counselor that I had been talking to about coming to this meeting. She said that sounded like a good idea. I then went and talked to the Branch Chief. She handled it very well and had no problems at all concerning this upcoming change. I received a lot of reassurance from her and I also told her of my problem of getting the new manager that I was scheduled to be assigned when we decentralized the branch. I was told not to worry, I would not be assigned to her. That eased my mind of a potential problem.

I next made arrangements to have a meeting with my immediate manager. I told her of my upcoming plans. She was totally shocked and stared at me in disbelief as I told her of how I had felt for so many years. All she said is that she would handle it when the time came.I had my meeting with the Labor Relations Specialist. After the initial shock wore off, she replied that she was there to see that my rights were not denied. That I not be harassed by coworkers but on the same hand that this not disrupt the work in the Branch.I told her that Cynthia had agreed to come to the meeting and talk about transsexualism. We set the tentative date for this meeting to the morning of October 8th. That was fine and I felt much better about the entire situation.

I had trusted a few close friends with my so called secret, but that could have been a mistake. I believe that I was betrayed by one of the last that I told. That is incidental, but I would caution about telling more than one person. That way if it gets out, you know who to blame.

Well, all of the sudden my breasts had some rather rapid development. It got to the point that people were asking questions, not to me, but to my manager and the other managers. My breasts became almost impossible to hide, and to be honest, I did not particularly care to hide them. I had wanted to have my own breasts for as long as I can remember. I was happy as could be about the development.I began to think that maybe the meeting was too far off. I was getting such rapid breast development and I knew that I could not hide it for long.All of the sudden, I began to get asked questions. Finally, one of the people I trusted said your secret is out. I really began to get nervous. This is not what I had planned.

I went and talked to the Labor Relations Specialist, and asked about an earlier meeting with my coworkers. We agreed that it would be on the afternoon of September 24th, provided everything could be arranged.Everything was changed and the only change was that the letters that I had written could not be passed out at work, but I was assured that everything would be covered. I agreed with reservations.I left prior to the meeting. I had asked a couple of people that knew to call me and give me their view of the meeting. Everyone that called told me the same thing. It went better than they would have expected. Between all the people that called me, only three comments were heard. Two were negative and one was marginal. The comments came from people that I expected to accept with no problem and the people that I expected to object seemed to take it very well. You can't second guess human nature. I was pleased with the response from my co-workers.

The following week I told a few other people that I associate on a daily basis, but do not work directly with. The response was, "What's your point?" "Do you expect me not to associate with you because you wear a dress. A friend is a friend." I received almost total support from my friends both at work and those that I associate with on a social basis. I did lose one friend, but maybe he wasn't such a close friend after all.

The main problem seemed to be my younger brother and youngest sister. They have totally ignored me. My younger sister has more or less accepted this and still associates with me. I guess that you can say that sometimes "water is thicker than blood."

I have no illusions of this being easy. I expect that my going to work the first day as Denise will be one of the hardest things I have ever tried to accomplish. My coworker's acceptance of this will make it easier, but it still will be difficult.I have no doubt that I will be read for quite awhile. That too can be overcome, because I will be working towards a dream that I have wanted all my life. When you see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can face tests that you might not have wanted to try in the past.I hope that this will help some of you decide on how to announce that you are going to start your Real Life Test. This is something that you have to come to grips with. Planning everything out will make a difference and it helps if you can have the support of your employer and gain the acceptance of those you work with.