Coming Out as Trans While Leading in a Male-Dominated Field

Coming Out As Trans While Leading In A Male-Dominated Field

In “Coming Out as Trans While Leading in a Male-Dominated Field,” you read the inspiring journey of Wynne Nowland, who bravely came out as a trans woman while serving as the CEO of her company. Wynne shares the anxious moments leading up to her announcement, the support she received from colleagues and friends, and the challenges she faced growing up in a time when information about transgender identities was scarce. Her story is a testament to the importance of living authentically, embracing change, and finding acceptance from those around you. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to come out as transgender while leading a company in a male-dominated field?

Coming Out As Trans While Leading In A Male-Dominated Field

Coming Out as Trans While Leading in a Male-Dominated Field

Being a CEO is challenging enough, but what happens when you decide to reveal your true self to your organization and the world? Here's the story of Wynne Nowland, who embarked on this courageous journey.

The Big Decision

Imagine sitting in your car, your heart racing as you prepare for what's about to happen. Wynne, sitting in her car in the quiet Long Island suburbs, could hear the nervous click of her manicured nails against the steering wheel. She had just hit send on an email to her staff, announcing she would be coming into work as a woman for the first time. Wynne was now ready to step into her professional life, truly being herself.

This moment was the final step in a long and arduous process. Wynne had already undertaken medical and legal transitions and had informed close friends and family. Now, it was time to tell her colleagues.

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The Build-Up

Why choose email? Wynne wanted her colleagues to have some time to process the news before she walked into the office. Given her position as the CEO and her history with many employees, she understood the announcement could be a shock. Her email was sent at 8 a.m., and she planned to step into the office around 9 a.m.

One cannot overstate the courage required for such a step. The fear of career damage weighed heavily on her mind. She loved her job and had dedicated years to her professional growth. But the need to live authentically surpassed all other concerns.

Childhood Realizations

Wynne's sense of being different was apparent even from her earliest memories. Unlike most boys, she found herself drawn to dolls and Easy Bake Ovens, and she adored looking cute like the girls. She didn't fit in with the boys, feeling an ineffable wrongness about her assigned gender.

However, in the times she grew up, the concept of being transgender wasn't common knowledge. Sensational headlines might have mentioned it here or there, but comprehensive information was elusive.

A New World Unfolds

The early 1990s brought home computers into the mainstream, drastically altering Wynne's life. Her initial machine was gigantic, but it opened a world of information. She discovered trans activists had put out significant online, and this became a lifeline for her. Understanding that she wasn't alone and that others felt the same way offered a profound sense of peace and ignited a fire within her.

“Like an Easy Bake oven,” Wynne often said about her journey, “it took a long time to bake.” The fears, anxieties, and innumerable questions — How would coming out affect my life? Would my friends understand? Would my mother accept me? — weighed on her heavily.

The Transition Period

In 2015, Wynne began her official transition. The process itself spans years, affording her time to thoughtfully consider how to share this with people important to her. Telling her mother stood out as an especially challenging task. Raised in an Irish Catholic household and an only child, Wynne knew her mother's understanding would be difficult to secure. Nevertheless, even though her mother struggled with the new name and pronouns, Wynne managed to find humor rather than frustration.

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Family dynamics matter immensely in such journeys. Wynne's mother, a product of an earlier era, found it challenging to grasp Wynne's reality. However, Wynne's more progressive aunt served as a bridge, confronting her mother about her resistance, which eventually softened her stance.

The Big Day

Eventually, Wynne had to face her workplace. Early 2017 was when she decided to make the big step publicly at her job. With a deep breath, she exited her car and walked into the office. The familiar faces she saw — initially sources of — soon felt supportive and comforting as her nerves began to settle.

She particularly feared from two close colleagues who weren't exactly known for their liberal views. To her immense relief and surprise, they embraced her warmly, imbuing her with newfound hope and optimism.


Wynne came out at 56 years old. Does she wish she had done it sooner? Of course. The overwhelming happiness she now radiates is apparent to all who know her. The key takeaway she offers is this: Don't waste a minute hiding who you are. Life is precious, and you might be pleasantly surprised by the support you receive and the happiness you find.

Understanding the Trans Experience in the Workplace

The Importance of Authenticity

For any individual, living an authentic life is crucial for mental and emotional well-being. Suppressing one's true identity can lead to stress, , and a feeling of being incomplete. For a transgender individual, the stakes are even higher due to societal misunderstanding and prejudice.

Challenges Faced by Trans Individuals in Professional Settings

The workplace can often be an intimidating environment for someone contemplating coming out as trans. Here are some common challenges faced:

Challenge Explanation
Fear of Rejection Concerns about losing their job or facing discrimination from colleagues and management.
Mental Health Struggles Stress, , and depression from hiding one's true self.
HR Policies Lack of comprehensive HR policies supporting trans individuals.
Social Acceptance Worry about acceptance from colleagues, clients, and business associates.
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Creating a Supportive Environment

Creating a supportive environment is the responsibility of both management and colleagues. Here's how you can do it:

Awareness and Education

  • Educate Staff: Regular workshops and training on gender diversity.
  • Use Correct Pronouns: Ensure everyone uses the chosen name and pronouns of the trans individual.

HR Policies

  • Inclusive Policies: Have comprehensive anti-discrimination policies that include protection for gender identity.
  • Support Systems: Offer mental health support and possibly counseling services.


  • Open Dialogue: Encourage open and respectful conversations about gender diversity.
  • Lead by Example: Management should showcase acceptance and support through their actions.

Navigating the Transition

Transitioning in the workplace requires careful planning and timing. Here are some steps to make it smoother:

Step Description
Pre-Announcement Preparation Speak to HR first and have a plan in place.
Choosing the Right Moment Make the announcement at a time when it can be handled smoothly, not during peak stress periods for the company.
Use of Communication Channels Opt for an initial announcement via email followed by in-person conversations.
Post-Announcement Support Continue providing support and check-ins after the initial announcement.

Coming Out As Trans While Leading In A Male-Dominated Field

Wynne’s Lessons for Leaders and Organizations

Lead with Empathy

Wynne's story underscores the importance of empathy in leadership. By understanding and supporting her own journey, Wynne became an exemplar for authentic leadership.

Be Brave but Pragmatic

Wynne's approach to her announcement — giving colleagues time to adjust while being present — is a lesson in balancing bravery with pragmatism. Changing perceptions takes time and presence.

Embrace the Journey

Every person's transition process is unique. If you are in a leadership position and on a similar journey, remember to give yourself grace, take one day at a time, and seek support when necessary.

Foster Inclusivity

As Wynne's experience shows, inclusivity isn't just about policies; it's about actions, attitudes, and consistent support. Create a work culture where everyone feels like they belong.

Coming Out As Trans While Leading In A Male-Dominated Field

Moving Forward

Wynne's story is a beacon of hope and resilience. Each of us can learn from her journey, whether we are leaders, colleagues, or friends. Creating inclusive spaces where everyone can be their authentic selves not only enriches workplaces but also empowers individuals to lead fuller, happier lives.

So, next time you ponder about authenticity in leadership, remember Wynne Nowland's journey — it's a powerful reminder that being true to yourself is the ultimate leadership strength.

Coming Out As Trans While Leading In A Male-Dominated Field


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