(Originally published on LinkedIn, 17/8/2016)

It seems the time for this status update has come - to tell my story. If you have heard then yes it is true. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please sit down now.

I am transgender, and have now transitioned to live my life as a female. After a life of confusion and denial, I admitted this to myself in early 2015, got a letter from a psychiatrist to prove I'm not insane, and then started HRT mid-2015. When the opportunity to leave my job emerged, the timing felt right and I chose to take that path rather than transition at work. This felt a little like running away from a problem, but is the only way I was comfortable tackling the single biggest challenge my family and I have ever faced. For those that I never told at Transport, I'm sorry. It wasn't an easy decision to hide what was happening as my family and I worked through the changes.

We have had unimaginably positive support from our families, friends old and new, and the community around us - schools, bands, neighbours and locals. This was so much more than I had expected could be possible, and I will be forever grateful to those who have already accepted me willingly and without judgement, through a time when I wasn't ready to make a broadcast like this.

Other than work I have been publicly living the way I was meant to be since late 2015, so once I left work in July there was no holding me back back. I am now going through the nightmare of endless name and gender changes with all the institutions that we deal with daily, including of course some of the government ones I know intimately.

If by this point you are finding this all offensive to your beliefs or perhaps amusing, please feel free to remove me from your connections and never get in touch again. There is no way I would wish being transgender on anyone, and it is not something I chose to accept lightly given the heartache it would inevitably bring my family and I. Denial was in many ways easier, even if I'm unsure how much longer I could have kept it up. Those that hold any sort of hatred to any sort of minority for their short number of years on this planet are not people I wish to interact with. Embrace diversity, as you will never make it go away.

If on the other hand you are curious or perhaps even supportive, I'd love to reconnect - I'll certainly need to as I work out what my future career holds. (And no this isn't all just an extreme way to hunt for a job!) My knowledge and experience haven't changed, only my outer veneer. The fact this now matches the inside means less mental turmoil and I find myself able to think considerably more clearly.

Because most people have little or no experience in interacting with transgender people (like I did only a few years ago), I'll clear the air a bit by saying that I now prefer female pronouns, and any question you would consider reasonable to ask any other female is perfectly reasonable to ask me. However I'm also very pragmatic, and realise it will take people a while to adjust. Don't let this be a reason to not get in touch - I won't be offended by any trip-ups as long as your intent is positive.

My current plan is to leave this status here for a few days before changing my name listed here on LinkedIn, and then finally my profile picture some time after that. As some of you have already discovered, I have a new Facebook profile and have all but abandoned my old one. My email is now hello{at}alisongould.info, while my mobile number is unchanged.

If you have ever sent me a Recommendation (or would like to!) then I would certainly appreciate it if you could update it with my new name and pronouns.

I much prefer telling my story face to face, so if you’d like to chat, let’s book something in. I still love coffee.

I'm glad this is now off my chest, thanks for reading what has been a difficult essay to write. Cheers,

Alison Jennifer Gould