Transforming: My Journey as a Transgender Woman

Published on: June 19, 2023

Growing up in Kentucky in the 90’s and early 2000’s, I had very little exposure to gender identity or what transgender was. During my childhood, I always felt that I was different, but never really knew a term to describe how I felt. I favored what society identifies as “female” toys and often associated with females opposed to males. I also played “dress-up” and would identify as female characters. However, at the time, I did not know what this would mean for me in the future.

I came out as gay during high school, which was an extremely challenging time for me and my parents. Fortunately, they eventually came to accept me for me. However, my social life was very strained -- there wasn’t anyone like me. I knew at that point something wasn’t right, but still did not know what it was. I became deeply depressed and withdrawn, until college when I was introduced to Drag.

I was in awe of the beauty and courage of the drag queens and ended up making a connection with a transgender queen who shared a similar story. I finally explored my true identity and made connections with people who were like me, and understood me for me. I was also introduced to my drag family, who would eventually become my chosen family. I was elated to see that I was not alone, although I knew coming out as transgender would not be accepted by my family, and at that point I was reliant on them to survive. Given this, I put the drag scene on the back burner and focused solely on graduating college and making my family proud.

After college, I began building my resume and started by working in group homes as a shift leader and eventually became a flight attendant, which allowed me to connect with my feminine side while traveling the world. I later gave up this passion to pursue a master’s degree and became a social worker, all while continuing to struggle with my identity and falling into a deep depression. It was during this time that I began to identify as transgender.

I started to share my feelings with my partner at the time, and my family – it didn’t go well. I turned to my chosen family, who accepted and loved me with open arms. They encouraged me to be my true self -- and promised to catch me if I were to fall. Finally, in early 2017, I informed my colleagues that I would be going on leave and when I returned, I would present as my authentic self. I was met with love, support and encouragement. On leave I started hormone replacement therapy -- and came back to work as my true self. The love that I received upon my return to work was nothing less than extraordinary. I felt like myself for the first time in my life even though my family life continued to struggle.

That April, I decided to switch careers and move on to the world of pharmaceuticals where, prior to working at Sanofi, I had my first experience with a transphobic colleague. At the time I had no contact with my family and had a failing relationship, which left me depressed and detached. However, in March 2020, things took a turn for the better when I was offered a role at Sanofi as a Case Manager with the Rare Blood Disorders Department. Although I was nervous and scared to disclose my identity as a transgender woman, I felt like I had finally found a home, where I could grow my career. To my surprise, Sanofi is one of the places that I have felt the safest. My managers and leadership have been nothing less than amazing and accepting of everyone.

At Sanofi, I was also able to connect with LGBTQIA+ colleagues in the PrideConnect ERG, eventually joining the leadership team in 2023. This has given me the opportunity to speak for those who may not have a voice and continue to fight side by side with Sanofi to ensure Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are at the forefront of the work we do and the environment we provide for employees. My colleagues gave me the courage to reconnect with my family -- and I am happy to say that we have now begun rebuilding our relationship. The love and support from the leadership in Rare Blood Disorders organization has also given me the courage to tell my story – and I have the opportunity to lead an amazing team of Case Managers and Reimbursement Support Specialists, who all have a major impact on ensuring our patients have a smooth journey while using our products.

As I sit now and reflect on my journey, I realize the fight for equality is far from over. In recent months, it seems that we are going backwards. I often hear that my LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters do not feel safe. This continues to light a fire in me to speak up and be fierce for all of those who are entering their journey today or have been struggling. I am proud of how far I have come, where my journey has taken me, and cannot thank Sanofi enough for the love, support and acceptance I feel each day I come to work.