My name is Kas. I’m a Cloudflare employee and I wanted to share my story with you on International Transgender Day of Visibility.
I’ve been different for as long as I can remember. I’ve been the odd one out not just for the time I’ve spent in tech, but most of my life.
I’m transgender in that I am gender non-binary. I’m working with the word ‘agender’ right now, as it is the word that describes me best: I’m not a woman, or a man, just a human. I don’t really have a gender, and I certainly don’t identify with either binary label.
Being transgender in tech is difficult. There are many times where we have to work harder, smarter, and give up so much to stay afloat. Times where you have to weigh the benefits of correcting your pronouns against the title of the person who is to be corrected (are they a customer? Your bosses’ bosses’ boss?). Times where you don’t know if you can even be ‘out’ with your coworkers, because you just don’t know if, or how, they’ll treat you differently, or fairly.
Being agender or outside the binary represents its own special quirks: I get asked a lot if I’m OK with going to women’s groups; I quickly explain that I am not a woman, but I try to be an ally to women, and see if the invite still applies. On International Women’s Day, I got a bit of well-meaning attention as a ‘Woman in Tech.’ I had to think for a bit: should I just bite the bullet and accept the attention while glossing over my identity? In the end, I decided to speak up and redirect the attention to actual women– And yes, before you even think to ask, I mean ALL women, including and especially trans women.
I’m lucky to be at Cloudflare; my coworkers respect my pronouns, and I’m treated fairly. We even have an organization, Proudflare, that advocates for LGBTQIA+ Cloudflare employees and folks in general. It’s still hard to be visible and trans in tech. For those who are out, and proud, and loud; be sure to recognize their work. Think about the extra work trans folk put in to be visible while trying to remain safe and healthy. I can’t and won’t speak for the entire trans community, but I can respect their experiences and I can listen to them.
I guess that’s the one thing I might ask of the reader here: listen to trans people. Really listen. And, if they seek to be visible, help them. Share their work.