Love Without Borders: a conversation with Silas
This year we created internal guidelines and materials to support, recognise and respect our transgender colleagues at Wise. Because whilst everyone’s transitioning journey will be different, we believe every Wiser should feel safe and confident being themselves. We caught up with Silas to discuss his role in making this happen.
Thanks for agreeing to talk to us about this project. How did it come about?
My collaboration with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team at Wise came about – I think – through word of mouth. I’ve been active in our inclusion spaces and channels and had spoken about my transitioning story.
I’d noticed that there was sometimes a lack of allyship towards those transitioning at work. Where allyship existed, it was met with trepidation, even when co-workers were entirely supportive. So I was thrilled to be brought into a project to create support and guidelines.
Why was this project important to you?
I felt I had to participate in writing the guidelines, given that I went through the entire process of transitioning at work on my own without any formal roadmap for how to make that happen.
My journey seemed to be a shock to many people at Wise. People weren’t aware of how to act or behave in response to my transition. While everyone was respectful, this made things more difficult for me.
Asking questions is essential, but having a guided rubric for supporting our transgender Wisers will do a lot of good for our company, in my opinion. A lot of what leads people to be cautious speaking to their trans colleagues stems from a fear of perceived intolerance. And also the worry of making someone uncomfortable or how it will look if you mess up.
The reality is, this careful tip-toeing often serves to make trans people feel like outcasts or “othered.” The best thing you can do is to treat your trans colleagues as you used to. They haven’t changed at their core. They’re just living the life they were meant to – in order to be happy!
Where can people go to for support at work when transitioning?
Support is in more places than people think. Before coming out to the whole of Wise, I had told some close colleagues about my desires to transition professionally. I was met with a lot of encouragement and was truly taken care of by the People team.
I’d gone to them as a first step to protect myself and to go about things correctly. I received an outpouring of love without any push to move quickly. I took about three months to broach the topic, then three additional months to finally feel “ready” to come out.
It wouldn’t have been possible without the People team on my side as advocates. It’s not that I felt the rest of the company wouldn’t support me. I just didn’t feel comfortable being as open with everyone.
My point is that support exists both in your coworkers and those in leadership, and there is more of it than I think anyone is fully prepared for.