(All names are altered to protect the privacy of the person involved.)
John was a male technical lead who transferred into our project team. There seemed to be nothing remarkable about him except he had a good reputation as a very accomplished engineer. He went to a long vacation soon after he joined our team. One month turned into two months, and he still wasn’t back. I remembered that I have almost forgotten that he belonged on our team.
One day our manager gathered all of us into a room on a short notice. We had no idea what was the topic. Is there a new hire, or are we all laid-off? No, our manager informed us that John has decided to obtain a sex change operation while he was gone, and should now be called Sherry.
At this moment Sherry walked into the room. What I saw was the old John with long hair, wearing a skirt, and with a surgically modified voice that was mid-way between a man and a woman. Sherry explained that she knew since very young she had a woman’s mind, but situated within a man’s body. That was why she finally decided to risk a sex change operation. Sherry also said that she will try to be the same technical lead who we used to know.
What Sherry spoke was easier said than done. Perhaps because of the female hormone she was taking, Sherry’s emotional state became very volatile. Our project at that time had run into some trouble, which was not unusual by itself, but Sherry had a very difficult time adjusting. Sometimes I wished I could help her, but what can a regular male heterosexual do? What do I know really about a sex change, except that in Sherry’s case seemed to have stuck her somewhere mid-way, and sad.
The breaking point came one day when our team were having a meeting, and we had our usual disagreements about how our project should move forward. I could see Sherry’s demeanor became very frustrated, and upset. I did not anticipate but Sherry burst out crying saying how she tried to be her best but no-one listened to her any more. She wiped at the tears, and in an instance she ran out of the room, with all of us staring at each-other in disbelief.
Sherry never came back that day; actually she quit her job soon afterwards. I felt guilty because I thought if I had approached Sherry and tried to help her, then she might not have ran out. This guilt grew stronger for me as the years went on. I also realized the strength of her belief in her female-ness, because the sex change operation did come with great risk, and she risked it all for a chance to become a real woman.
This year I and my family started to attend a gay welcoming church. I guess this is to make up for the years where I did nothing to help the plight of LGBTQ people. I still do not know what exactly has God called me to do, but I know I will have to be very patient, and listen carefully.