Open 4 Business: Managing a transition, with Jamison Green

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Open 4 Business showcases the top LGBT entrepreneurs and workplace advocates globally. Who’s gaining leverage, creating change, and making it easier to be open at the office?

Author and consultant, Jamison Green, has blazed his own trail as the leader in the field of transgender law and advocacy. 

“As soon as you are a trans person, everything is denied to you,” Green told 429Magazine while explaining his inspiration to become a champion of transgender issues.

As a mover and shaker in the legal world, Green travels around the country to consult with corporations, businesses, government officials, and to college campuses to spread awareness and solve problems regarding the “transgender and transsexual experience.” 

“I guide management in establishing policies and addressing conflicts; I serve as an expert witness in legal cases and to legal briefs in many cases in the US and abroad; I create presentations and reports; I have guided the development of transgender-related non-discrimination laws in the US, and I am the architect of the effort to eliminate exclusions in health care coverage for transgender and transsexual people, and to institute coverage for transgender-specific care,” Green explained. 

Green is the author of ‘Becoming a Visible Man’ (Vanderbilt University Press, 2004), which shares autobiographical insights as well as educational analysis of what it means to be transgender and the challenges which arise. In 2005, his book won the Best Book in Transgender Studies, presented by the Center of Lesbian & Gay Studies (CLAGS), NY, as well as the award for Lambda Literary Finalist. 

His career is as extensive, as are his accomplishments. As the owner of Jamison Green & Associates, founded in 2007 in the Bay Area, Green’s “expertise in the field of transgender diversity training and policy development” is second to none. His diversity trainings provide companies with the appropriate language, sensitivity, and education, to create a workplace which is conducive and accommodating to everyone. 

He also worked as a policy analyst at the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health where he “managed a project to develop primary care protocols for physicians inexperienced in treating patients who are transgender or transsexual.” Green was featured in Out and Equal’s 2012 book ‘From Closet to Corner Office’ while also presenting at their summit on transgender, transsexual, and bisexual (of which he identifies as) issues in the workplace. 

Born female-bodied at birth, Green’s gender was always ambiguous and he never felt comfortable wearing traditional women’s attire. Interestingly, people perceived Green as a man even before his gender transition.  

Before Green came out as a transgender man, he identified as a lesbian. However, that never felt right to him. He wasn’t a lesbian, nor was he ‘one of the girls’.  

Green retold a story of being excluded from the group. “We are going to a women’s only party and you can’t come,” a friend of his said to him. 

“The truth is, I didn’t want to.” 

When he finally came out as a man, the news was received with relative ease. It’s as if his friends had known all along. “I knew you as a brother, not as a trader, but as brother,” a friend told him. 

“People who didn’t know me would direct me to the men’s room,” he explained, while describing an experience at a job interview.

Green had a similarly unique experience one day at work. When he (then, still female-bodied) was working at Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Company, Green and his team, in effort to create irony, decided to wear suits (the antithesis of casual Friday). Green walked in wearing a pink linen tie. 

“No one wears that,” a co-worker said, sizing Green up. “I am a girl! I can wear whatever I want!” His response turned his colleague’s face several shades of pink.  

When Green re-entered the workplace as a man, he discovered both discrimination and gender inequalities. The most infuriating aspect of workplace discrimination was his inability to get health insurance. Just like everyone else in his office, Green paid for health coverage, however, he was the only one denied health care because he was transgender.

“When I transitioned to male in 1988, I realized that I could not access my employer-sponsored health insurance, even though I paid my portion for it like all my co-workers.”

Distressed about the reality of workplace discrimination, Green did something about it. In 2001, he was a pioneer in ending health care policies which excluded transgender individuals from basic coverage. 

Green also experienced gender inequalities in the workplace and where he really experienced what it meant to be a man. As a female-bodied person Green was always complimented for his personable flair and his ability to facilitate group work, however, when he transitioned to male, his management style (although it stayed the same) was ridiculed.  

“I had been long rewarded for my social skills and collaborative management style by regular promotions while I was in a female body. At Sun [Microsystems], my director once gave me feedback that I was too collaborative and perceived as a weak manager. This made me furious! As far as I was concerned, I had the same values and style as I had always had. But eventually I realized that different behavior is expected of men than women.” 

Green is now the President-Elect of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which he agreed to do pro bono. He also gained his PhD in 2010 and was awarded his doctorate in 2011, where he became the 1st American to gain a PhD in law focusing on transgender and transsexual issues. One of his biggest accomplishments was “getting gender identity and expression into the law” where gender was finally separated from sex and sexuality and was viewed “as a protected class.”

Interestingly, after Green became true to himself, people stopped questioning his gender. They stopped trying to size him up to decipher if he was a man or a woman. 

In fact, before Green transitioned his gender ambiguity threw people off. People would rarely approach him, they would keep their distance in public settings such as the grocery store, he explained. Once there was no question about who he was, people would “strike up conversations.” A common experience for most was previously an anomaly for Green. 

Green reiterates the importance of being seen. Some transgender people fear visibility, thinking that drawing too much attention to trans issues could be dangerous. Green’s philosophy is quite to the contrary: “I think we will get more if we are visible; we’ll never make the world safe by being ashamed.”

429Magazine

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