Finding a job as a transgender woman with mental health issues

It’s been a year and a half since I worked full time, with the exception of a few projects I worked on remotely for my former employer.  In fact, I have not worked since my first arrival back in the UK, which was in January 2015.  Not only that, but it’s been just over 12 years since I’ve even worked in the UK.  I was barely scraping by at my last job, often reprimanded for tardiness and not being social enough.

Since the only way I’ll ever be able to get the procedures done that I need doing on the NHS, I am left wih the sole option of paying privately.  I don’t expect my GoFundMe campaign to get anywhere, so it now depends on me not only finding a job and keeping it, but also finding a job that pays me above and beyond enough money to live on, in order for me to save up for the treatments that I need in order to feel comfortable in my own skin.

I have a lot going against me though.  I’m transgender and relatively visibly transgender, so there’s a need for me to disclose it on job applications, even if the law doesn’t require me to.  I feel that it’s best to be honest with employers, especially if they call me in for an interview expecting a cisgender female.  The UK has some pretty good anti-discrimination laws, but that won’t stop employers from turning me down, if they don’t like the look of me.  They’ll just give a bogus reason, such as I wasn’t qualified enough or they won’t give a reason at all.  I would feel far more confident going to interviews and talking on the phone if my voice sounded feminine, but without money I can’t afford voice feminisation surgery and without surgery, I’m stuck with a shitty male voice that gives me away so easily.

Then there’s the fact that I have both depression and anxiety and I’m extremely shy and socially awkward.  This caused problems in my last job, but my employer was relatively understanding and quite lenient, because I worked extremely hard.  But I’d been at that company for years and I cannot expect to find that in a new job, where the pressure will be on to make a good impression, especially during interview and during the first few weeks (assuming I got the job).  I can’t deal with phones at all because of my voice, which could be a huge problem, unless I find a job that doesn’t involve me using the phone much (or preferably, at all).  My depression is nowhere near being under control, as I still haven’t found the right medication.  I’ve also seeminhgly lost the support I had when I was living in Lancashire, as the servives haven’t been transferred.  I would need support both before interview and perhaps for the first few weeks of employment, as I’d be a nervous wreck otherwise.  I have also never been to an actual job interview as myself (Rebecca) and have no clue when it comes to dressing professionally.

The third thing going againsst me (in addition to being transgender and mentally ill) is that I have no formal qualifivcations beyond the GCSE ‘C’ grades I got in high school, which  left at 16 because I had litle encouragement to stay on and do A Levels. I’ve tried to go to college part time to study for accounting and IT qualifications, but I’ve failed every time.  I am useless at textbook learning and classrooms are not my thing, largely because of the social aspect and my poor attention span.  I learn by “doing”, but even that takes time.  I am not good at absorbing information.  So I’d have to hope that an employer would take my extensive work experience into account, albeit work experience gained in the United States and not here in the United Kingdom.  It doesn’t look good, as most employers seem to want degrees even for entry level positions.

I’ve applied for a few jobs online, just to test the water.  They were mostly low end accounting positions, such as AP roles.  Most jobs advertised online are through recruitment agencies now anyway, which causes even more stress as I’d have to be interviewed by the agency first.  Put it this way, I’ve chickened out of every interview I’ve had over the last year or so.  I was gutted that I had a major panic attack the morning I was supposed to be going for an interview with a really large company.  It would’ve been £32k a year, which is a decent salary.  But I couldn’t do it.  I was so anxious that I didn’t sleep the night before and had one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had that morning, so I cancelled last minute.

So my only hope of paying for the procedures I need is to secure a relatively well paying and full time job.  I just feel like there’s far too many things going against me, especially when I’m going to be competing with people in their 20’s.  I need to find an accounting position, as there isn’t anything else I can do.  My anxiety is far too severe to work in retail or customer service.  I’m not good with my hands or strong enough to do warehouse-type work.  It seems very hopeless at the moment, but I am hoping that I’ll get some sort of help in terms of overcoming my fear of going to interviews.  I don’t want to be on benefits; I never did.

While I still feel so uncomfortable in my own skin and with a voice that doesn’t match my identity or appearance, I’ll never have much in the way of confidence.  But without confidence and with the level of anxiety I have, it will be very hard to find a job in order to save enough money to fix the problems that I have, in order to feel comfortable in my own skin and confident.  It’s a real catch 22 situation.

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Author: Becca

Dead to the world, dead inside.

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