Someone Like Me: A marketing leader finds support during her child’s transition

My first week at Elastic, I showed up to orientation and sat next to a trans woman with bright blue hair. That evening, at a welcome reception with executives all in casual attire, a male colleague arrived wearing a black skirt and combat boots. It was pretty obvious from Day 1 that Come as YOU Are was not lip service, it was truly part of our source code.

As the years of my Elastic journey progressed, kindness, empathy and understanding for all employees has permeated the culture via emails, corporate policies and conversations. It’s always a pleasure to work in an inclusive and warm environment, but one day I found myself needing some extra understanding and a bit of breathing space.

I consider myself a pretty buttoned-up person. I’m someone with dentist appointments booked six months out and the Christmas cards ordered by October. So you can imagine my surprise when one day I noticed my child had changed their pronouns on Instagram to they/them. This is my only child. My baby. Truth be told, my very best friend in the world.

I asked what this was about. During a year of reflection while studying at home during Covid, and being removed from the social pressures of high school, they realized they were nonbinary trans. Also, could they please change their name to something more gender neutral?

A veritable tsunami of emotions followed. First was confusion. (What is nonbinary?) Followed by intense fear. (Trans?!? Is someone going to bully my kid? Or worse??) Then came the self-criticism. (How could this have evolved right under my nose in my own house and I never saw it coming? Am I the worst parent ever?) And finally, the mourning. I was both surprised and guilt-ridden to feel mourning due to a deep sense of loss that came when I had to stop using the name I’d chosen for my child 16 years ago and switch to a new one. There was so much I had to learn and adjust to. I felt like I was out sailing in a dinghy, during a hurricane, when I swore I had checked the weather and it was supposed to be nothing but clear skies for the foreseeable future.
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