Monday, 30 January 2012

Privacy and employment.

Before I started this blog I had to think how it might effect my online appearance since this is completely public, names me, is linked (really rather tenuously to be fair) to my professional blog, and is often shared on Facebook and Twitter. Obviously I decided that it was still worth setting up otherwise you wouldn't be reading this right now!

The main issue is how it reflects on you; ok I'm unlikely to upset or anger anyone I count as a friend, but that isn't where the worry lies. What really worries me are the people who don't know me at all, and more importantly people who might want to hire me. Crossdressers and Transgendered people get a bad press, and have a certain reputation which is, on the whole, undeserved; but that's another topic entirely. 

The idea that someone cold judge me by a single tag and not by what I do or say upsets me; I understand that prejudice, both active and passive, exists and effects how people respond to you, and to be honest, I'm guilty of it myself, there are certain parts of society I can't stand, anyone who has spend much time with me in a busy street will probably know what I mean. When you chose to be open about anything that differs  from the consensus defined norm you have expect it to effect how people interact with you, even if it's at a micro level. It's up to you to deal with it and do what you can to combat the negative elements.
In the past few years the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and Google has created a sense of communal, all inclusive friendship and equality; it's why your boss might ask to be friends with you on Facebook and why you might feel bad ignoring them. On the whole this is probably a good thing. It's better to want to be friends with everyone you meet than to be insular. If nothing else social networking websites are great for keeping in touch with people and sharing things that up until 5-10 years ago you would have had no idea about. 

However, the truth of the matter is that your life is more public now that it has ever been and this trend is set to continue. To boot, the ability to restrict access by group hasn't been fully realised yet, Google+ is a decent attempt but it lacks the popularity that Facebook and Twitter have attained.

This leads me to a quandary, posting something online is akin to making it accessible to anyone regardless of privacy settings because of the transitive nature of social networking infomation, especially recently. Facebook sharing and re-tweeting have become more and more pervasive and intrusive in spreading information. When this is an interesting news article, a cat youtube clip or what songs you played on spotify it's benign, but if you are trying to keep something about yourself offline (or entirely hidden) one accidental   slip or mistake can come back at you very quickly. 

For example; When I set up my Facebook, Twitter and professional blog I had to decide how I was going to present myself. If I had chosen to keep my crossdressing offline to protect my future appearance I would have required been completely private about that part of my life, I would be scared someone would take a photo, upload it and tag me, or post to my wall remarking about it. So the only acceptable response would have been to put everything back in the box and more or less hide it again. For all I know my coming out as a crossdresser could have thrown Izzy off, made her question our relationship and pulled up apart. Being open about it allowed her to fully think things through, and accept it before entering the relationship. Also being scared of her response could have made me question the relationship myself..
People do not like being lied to. They do not like having information withheld from them, even when it has nothing to do with them; It's just our inquisitive nature. So when something of this ilk is revealed people can have a strong negative response. This is the other reason I decided to be open about my crossdressing. If I had decided to hide it, found employment, made some friends and then had an incident as described in the paragraph above occur it would have damaged working relationships and caused drama. 

Being open about these things, making no secret of it, and being aware of the issues it might cause seems to be the best way of operating. It's not something I'm going to put on my cv, or bring up in an interview, but if the information is available in a non hidden way it should alleviate potential issues. Theoretically the odd potential employer may find it distasteful, it might even tip the scale in deciding not to interview me, but these cases should be few and far between. Realistically the world is going to have to come up with an adult way to handle this kind of info dump, so things should get better.

Lastly, obviously I know this blog isn't going to change how the world see's crossdressers and transgendered people. As I said near the start, there is certain reputation attached to these groups and they are very heavily stereotyped, it's up to the people who suffer because of that to speak up and do what they can change perceptions. It's not going to happen overnight, and it's not going to happen because of me, but if I can better inform the people who know me, or might want to hire me then I'm going to.
A small note for any possible future employers; If you have found this blog, please let me know. I'm not going to claim discrimination if you chose not to hire me, or try to slander your company. I am just interested to see if googling someone has become a mainstay of hiring process and if so, how easy you found this blog. Also if you don't mind telling me what you thought, it would be appreciated. Again I am just trying to gather data and see what really happens.

Also I'm not going to randomly turn up to work in a dress. It's one of those incorrect stereotypes that worries me, just because I sometimes wear a dress doesn't mean I'm going to all the time. Some crossdressers may want to and it's up to the company to discuss that with the employee at hand. If I ever felt like I wanted to start coming to work as a woman it would only be following a full and frank discussion with the company, if they had a serious issue with it I would accept that and get over it.

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