This National Coming Out Day, Intel employee Ximena Tellez Salmon shares her story as a trans woman at Intel. Learn how she worked with HR to develop a plan with her team when transitioning, the struggles she faced during the transition and how she developed connections, support and community as her true self.
When I Started Transitioning
At the beginning of my transition, about seven years ago, I was uncertain of the issues I would face, as I was the first transgender person at Intel Mexico. In 2014, there wasn’t an Intel Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender (IGLOBE) Employee Resource Group (ERG) chapter at the Mexico site, and my work environment felt dominated by a macho culture.
I contacted the Costa Rica IGLOBE leader and explained my situation to him. He had worked at Intel Mexico a few years prior and still had friends at the site that he considered LGBT+ friendly. He introduced me to them, and with their help I began to build a support structure inside the company. That’s how IGLOBE at Intel Mexico began.
I received great support from the HR team; they worked with Global HR to understand how to best support my transition, and they created an action plan for me. HR helped me feel comfortable transitioning in the work environment. HR and I met with my manager about the transition, and I felt that they were very empathic to the situation.
My support network internally was growing, and I made friends outside the workspace. Still, no one in my work group knew about the transition.
I felt very nervous, and I delayed the date of officially transitioning at work for a couple of months until I worked on my fears. I think we, as humans, tend to prepare and think about the worst possible scenarios.
My First Day in My New Gender Expression at Work
Shortly before my official start day as my new self, I created a message for HR to share with my co-workers.
I was unsure how the message would land, as they were all engineers with high levels of rational intelligence.
My first day at work as my new self, while I was waiting in the lobby for HR, one of my co-workers recognized me and welcomed me. When HR arrived, I got my new badge and there was a welcome party for me with my IGLOBE friends. That was an awesome surprise! And it gave me a lot of confidence and motivation.
After the party, I had a meeting with my team. At first, there was silence, then I started going through the topics and tried to make it a usual meeting. Then everyone started to follow the same dynamic, and I felt that I had broken the ice, and they could see I was still the same person.
What Happened Next?
As the days passed, I felt isolated because of my transition. It took about a year before someone sat with me for lunch.
When all my records were officially changed, I was invited to join the Women in Intel (WIN) group. It was bittersweet when I first attended these activities. Some of my female colleagues addressed me with masculine pronouns (him/he), even though my name and my gender expression are female. That made me feel excluded. The silver lining was being invited to participate, which helped my personal and professional growth.
Where Am I Now?
I am grateful to have a job where I haven’t been harassed or questioned. I have a lot of friends. I feel confident. I appreciate what I have. I am lucky to be part of very inclusive team that connected all over the world. I have a lot of growth opportunities.
I consider Intel one of the best companies to work for and appreciate being part of this great company!
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