Tag Archive | job

Corporate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

As part of the “moving to Keene, New Hampshire” process, which you can speed up by buying my ebook for $2.99 or the paperback for $7.49, I’ve also been seeking a job there, since that will speed up the process far more than anything else. After receiving a series of promising emails, I found myself conducting a phone interview, at the end of which the person said, “Thank you, sir.”

Now, this is a bit more serious than “RAWR DID YOU JUST ASSUME MY GENDER?” I’ve of course applied to the job as myself; one of the primary reasons for moving, actually, is that I’m transsexual, although I know that, realistically, I need vocal surgery and minor cosmetic surgery. Despite my best efforts, and use of very expensive vocal training regimens, I’ve met with no success (though I have become a much better singer, so good that I’m considering picking music back up) in feminizing my voice. Hell, eating large amounts of Hostess mini donuts is doing nothing to help me gain weight, either, which is badly needed.

So I was faced with a problem. Realistically, I know that it can create problems in a service-driven industry. Whether the employer has an issue with it or not, clients might, and individual businesses can never be compelled to continue using one vendor or another. It’s why I continue to work as a male: the clients would unanimously fire me here. Will that problem exist in New Hampshire?

Because I can’t expect the employer to risk losing clients by having an employee who makes them uncomfortable. And my voice is clearly still so off that I was called a “sir,” though I’m not surprised by that. There’s a huge mental block there that I’ll get into some other time. Realistically, I know that I need to continue working as a male until I’ve made the money (which shouldn’t be much of an issue in NH) to afford the needed surgeries. Until then, it has the potential to create issues with clients.

But what about once I’ve had those surgeries? Being a male to them one day and female the next is likely to create even more issues.

“Thank you, sir.”

Motherfucker.

How to handle this delicate issue when the vast majority of potential employers will simply refuse to discuss it in any meaningful sense, for fear of saying the wrong thing and inviting myriad lawsuits?

Yet it had to be discussed: “Thank you, sir.”

I know the SJWs out there would contend, “At most, you should have corrected him and requested he refer to you as ‘ma’am,'” and, yeah, perhaps. But that doesn’t sit well with me, and never has. It’s disingenuous and dishonest. And it invites even more problems. Following that correction, they’d certainly have googled me (honestly, I’m surprised they haven’t already). And I don’t know, but I imagine reservations would be extremely high about hiring someone who felt they had the right to be treated as a female despite not conforming sufficiently to gender expectations.

I unambiguously take the stance that being considered a female is something that I have to earn, not something to which I am entitled. Other people have expectations of female and male, and their expectations are as valid as anyone else’s. Since I’m the one who wants to be considered female, the onus falls to me to conform to their expectations, not to make them conform to mine in full disregard of their own. And this served as proof that I haven’t achieved that. Hey, no biggie–it means I have more work to do, which I already knew anyway.

But how to handle the matter now?

It immediately became clear to me that I should have sent my resume as a male, but I didn’t. Again, that’s the primary reason for the move, so I didn’t think twice about it; when I applied for a job, I did it as Aria. It just seemed normal and natural to me, not worthy of second guessing. But even if I had, I’m transitioning, and the day is inevitable (and not as far away as it used to be) that the male persona is forever put to rest. There is an entirely different, and heightened, degree of difficulty transitioning in a single job–being a male (albeit unusual) to the employer and clients one day, and a female the next. It’s actually easier to be a non-passable (I’ll not apologize for that phrase) female one day, and a more passable one the next. People are already prepared for it at that point, are already getting used to it, and it’s much less jarring.

So, ultimately, I think I made the right choice: apply as a female and tough it out, unpassable in several critical regards, and, in time, get those issues handled (cosmetic surgery is likely limited to brow bone decreases, so it’s not major and shouldn’t be expensive). With many of the employers clients being government agencies, it’s actually not terribly likely to be a problem for clients. But there is still a problem at hand:

“Thank you, sir.”

Merely mentioning my gender identity could be enough to cost me the job, for exactly the same reason that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell existed in the military; it immediately creates the danger of legal action. By mentioning it, I’d put them instantly into a No Win situation. Either they don’t hire, and then there’s the threat of lawsuit on the basis that they didn’t hire me because of my gender identity, or they do hire me simply to avoid the risk of that lawsuit. Of course, I’m an anarchist. Government is a weapon, not a tool. I didn’t sue a realty company who let their dog bite me twice in a service call, and that was the most solid lawsuit most people have ever heard. But I don’t think that’s right. But while I know there’s no chance I’m trying to bait them, a la Dale Gribble in King of the Hill applying as a waiter to Hooters, there’s no possible way they could know that. A company I’ve worked with for seven years asked me to put in writing that I would not seek any legal action, after all–the threat is very real, too real, and cannot be discounted. I know it exists, and they know it exists. Though I’d never, ever use such a vile weapon to force others into certain actions, they have no way of knowing my principled stance against such things, nor any reason to believe such claims. Yet there it was.

“Thank you, sir.”

In their zeal for anti-discrimination protections, liberals have created Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Even mentioning this disparity between my birth sex and my gender, the mention of which became necessary (as I don’t think anyone would dispute), violates that policy and places everyone into a minefield that is impossible to navigate. Say the wrong thing, bam. Lawsuit. Don’t hire me, bam. Lawsuit. Don’t respond, bam. Lawsuit. Suggest clients may have an issue with it, bam. Lawsuit.

I need them to be open an honest about whether it could impair client relationships, but they can’t be. Even if it would cost them half their clients, they simply can’t tell me so. They have to lose those clients with a smile on their face, resenting me all the while, because I’m protected by the violence of government action. They can’t fire me, because then, however roundabout, they’d be firing me for being transsexual. Nor can they use fear of that for reason not to hire me, for the same reason.

Yet it’s completely true. No amount of denial will change that, and no amount of good feelings would change my I.T. company in Mississippi going under because I worked as a female. All the liberal protestations that “gender identity shouldn’t matter” won’t make it not matter. It will matter. It does matter. And we can work on that, sure, but we can’t outlaw it, not as we’ve done, because that closes off honest communication. That conservative woman to whom it matters is as right as the liberal man to whom it doesn’t. Now, though, that woman simply can’t discuss it, and we can’t talk to her. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell reigns. She must grit her teeth and act with secret motives to avoid lawsuits and government bludgeoning. If she doesn’t want to work with a transsexual person, she has to keep that to herself, and fire them over something else. The issue goes unaddressed, and she continues unreached and unpersuaded.

“Thank you, sir.”

The reality is simply that it matters to some people, whether it matters to the potential employers or not, and we all know that. A client needs to give no reason for firing a vendor. They simply stop calling, and start calling someone else.

“Thank you, sir.”

But I can’t mention it, can I? At most I can inform them that I prefer to be referred to as a female. No further explanation, no consideration of their wants and needs, and no recognition of the fact that, you know, I share this planet with seven billion other people, many of whom disagree with me about various things. We have to deny the existence of those people. We have to deny reality itself, and behave as though x is true when we know very well that x is false.

So what did I do?

I laid it out in an email that friends criticised as being overly long. But they don’t understand. This is a matter that I live. It’s tertiary to them; they’re spectators. I live and breathe it, and I know it’s a sensitive and delicate issue, not to mention that bringing it up at all places everyone involved into a minefield where the slightest misstep, as far as they knew, was a legal explosion.

And even despite my lengthy email (it wasn’t really that long–three paragraphs, which I consider damned good for an issue of this complexity and sensitivity), they asked for clarification on a few things.

Because I expressed a willingness to work as a male. Though I don’t like it, I recognize that it may be the path of least resistance for them, and that’s a fair compromise, I think. Maybe they could still employ me post-transition, and maybe they couldn’t; we could cross that bridge later. But I recognize that being a non-passable female could create problems for them, and could harm their business. It’s WRONG to demand them unilaterally take that risk.

But they can’t even admit that it could create problems. Whether it would or wouldn’t, they can’t admit it, nor can they openly factor it into the decision of whether to hire me. Would it be a factor? Who can say? Rest assured, it wouldn’t be their personal issue with transsexualism, but their recognition that clients may have an issue with it. Therefore, hiring me would not be good for their company, because it wouldn’t be good for their client relationships, because their clients may have problems with it.

Nothing can be done about that, because they aren’t allowed to say, “Okay, yes, we think it’s prudent that you work as a male for the time being.”

They aren’t allowed to say that.

I’d rather work as a female, but I’m aware that stepping stones are a thing, and we must sometimes be uncomfortable today to secure comfort tomorrow. It’s why I’m a capitalist. That notion of investing in the future–it’s exactly the same here. Working as a male for a strong, vibrant, well-paying, successful firm in New Hampshire is an investment in my future, and one that I don’t mind making, although I’d rather avoid it. Working as a male for six months there while I save up the money for vocal and cosmetic surgery is a small price to pay considering the rewards–a much better job, a much better area, freedom to be me…

But I can’t make the decision. Government and liberals have made the decision for me. I’ll work as a female, because they can’t tell me otherwise. The only way I could make a choice at all would be if I chose to work as a male. I can’t choose to work as a female now; working as a female now would be a product of government coercion, not my personal choices. And yet, without them being able to admit even the existence of potential problems, contacting them and telling them to consider me a male by another name would be construed as flaky, uncertain, and unstable; it would be far more damaging to my employment prospects than anything else.

“Thank you, sir.”

When they replied, it predictably contained mention of Equal Opportunity Employment, and the assurance that being transgender (I went with transgender because, generally, it’s more palatable) would not factor into their decision. Upon reading it, inwardly I sighed. I know enough to know that my email was very clear in those regards, but the gauntlet was tossed back to me: “Are you saying you wish to delay the interviewing process until you’re finished transitioning?”

Motherfucker.

Thank you, sir.

No, and they knew I wasn’t saying that. And I know they knew I wasn’t saying that, and they know I know that they knew I wasn’t saying that. They were more cleverly saying that they’d have nothing to do with it, that they would under no circumstances say “Don’t transition yet, then, if you feel it could create problems.” Instead they were saying, “We have no comment.”

Because they’re not allowed to comment, regardless of the reality in New Hampshire. Is it as big a deal there as it is here? I don’t know. If it is, they can’t admit it, and we can’t address that problem together. They airlifted themselves right out of that minefield, but the mines remain there. If it could be a potential issue for clients, that’s something that, at most, they’d have to discuss among themselves in secret, or keep to themselves entirely.

Instead of working through the problem together, if there is a problem, then they’ll simply not hire me, and will give any number of other reasons for that. Because they aren’t allowed to state the reason, if that’s the case, and so we can’t compromise to deal with it.

It’s not “Thank you, sir.”

It’s “Thank you, liberals,” said with a deep-seated, resentful anger for creating an environment where potential pitfalls and issues can’t be discussed openly and honestly.

 

The Failure to Pair Workers With Work

According to the known liars in the Federal Government, the unemployment rate in the United States is a mere 4.3%. That number is obviously wrong, but it’s really not important. Any degree of unemployment is a bad thing, even if it’s only 1%, because that means one in every one hundred people cannot find a job in order to earn money.

Now, let me point out something that many people seem to have overlooked…

Ridiculous amounts of work are going undone in the United States. Bridges and road signs are covered in graffiti, streets are littered with trash and refuse; storefront windows are smudged with fingerprints and streaks of rain, buildings need to be repainted, countless yards need to be cut, and statues and monuments throughout the nation are covered in bird droppings and graffiti. If you simply begin looking for it, you will see thousands of things, just on your daily commute to work, that need to be done–things that could be done. Things that, you would think, someone would be willing to pay to have done.

And then there’s that number looking at us: 4.3%.

It’s not simply a matter of location, obviously. If only we could make the assertion that our unemployed people are nestled in the valleys of the Smokey Mountains, where there are no bridges to be cleaned of graffiti or monuments to be cleaned. Yet we know that isn’t the case. These unemployed people are scattered throughout the United States unevenly, just as are the tasks that need to be done. This sort of “undone work” exists in the city of Southaven, Mississippi, and, yet, there are unemployed people in the city of Southaven.

The question we have to ask is simple:

If there is work to be done, why isn’t it being done?

The answer is just as simple: the Minimum Wage.

I learned about the Balance of Power when I was a preteen, when I was required to cut the grass each week (in addition to household chores) to earn my $1.50/week allowance. My sister had similar household chores to complete, but didn’t have to cut the grass, and yet she earned exactly the same amount that I made. I pointed out that I had to spend one entire Saturday every two weeks cutting a rather large yard, while my sister didn’t, and I received basically no payment for it, and I argued that I should have been given a raise to my allowance.

“I’ll give you a raise when you start doing a better job of cutting the grass,” my grandmother replied.

I’m sure the problem is obvious. My grandmother could make me cut the grass; I had no real choice in the matter. I couldn’t simply say, “Well, then I’m not cutting the grass anymore.” Yet, she could say, “I’m not paying you anything. You’ll get out there and cut the grass, and that’s that.”

I was at her mercy regarding payment. She didn’t need to pay me, but I needed her to pay me.

The same thing is true in the United States today, especially in regard to Minimum Wage jobs. The individual worker is not needed by the employer, because there are ten others waiting in line if that particular worker proves to be a hassle. Just like my grandmother didn’t need to pay me, so does McDonald’s not need to pay Jim. If Jim demands a higher wage, they can simply fire him and hire from among the 4.3% of people who need that job in order to survive. As it was with my grandmother, the Balance of Power is tilted entirely toward the employer.

If there is one job and ten potential employees, then the workers compete with one another for the job. Think of it like an auction. Each worker offers up the most labor for the lowest cost to the employer, because all of the people bidding for the job need the job.

“I’ll do it for $9/hour plus health insurance,” says the first.

The second laughs. “I’ll do it for $8/hour. Forget the health insurance,” says the second.

The third laughs. “I’ll do it for $6/hour! Forget all the benefits!”

The Minimum Wage then prevents the first and second people–and the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and however many more there are–from proceeding to undercut the third guy. They can come forward and match his offer, but they cannot stack the odds in their favor by lowering the wage for which they will work. This is why Unions despise “scabs” so much. The second person might go away, grumbling, angry that he didn’t get the job, saying, “It’s not fair! He shouldn’t be able to undercut me like that! There ought to be a law!

That “law,” of course, is the Minimum Wage.

The other consideration to this is that the employer may have already decided that the task is not worth more than $7 an hour. By the employer’s calculations, it’s just not worth more than that to hire someone to keep their parking lot clean of litter and trash. So, unknown to him while he cries that the third person shouldn’t be able to undercut him, the second person had overbid anyway.

It’s similar to the television show The Price is Right. Overbidding in the show is an instant loss. If one says $550 for a washing machine that MSRPs for $349, the contestant cannot win that round, no matter what. This is also the case with demanding a wage that is higher than the employer is willing to pay: the worker cannot “win that round.” The worker cannot get that job. It’s instant disqualification. Though the employer, like on the show, has hidden the actual value of the job, the first two people have overbid and have disqualified themselves. This is why everyone cuts their eyes angrily at the person who bids $1–on the show, if everyone else overbids, that person is assured to win the round; that employee who bids the lowest intentionally is assured to get the job, if they are otherwise qualified–and, often, even if they are not.

What happens, though, when everyone is disqualified, because no one is able to bid below a certain amount, and the employer has already calculated to find out that the value of the job is lower than the “certain amount” they aren’t allowed to bid below? Everyone is disqualified. No one gets the job. The job goes undone.

Imagine the foolishness of having on the show The Price is Right the rule that “No one may bid under $100 for an item.” Now imagine the added folly of featuring a toaster that is valued at $40. What happens? Everyone overbids, because everyone must bid over $100. Yes, it’s a rather stupid state of affairs, isn’t it?

Yet the “toasters,” such as they are, exist. There are jobs–tens of thousands of them–that need to be done, but simply aren’t worth $7.25 an hour to the person who would pay to have them done. In our analogy, the toaster is on the show, and the toaster can’t be removed from the show. The circumstances we’ve created are idiotic. We see the toasters on the show, and we know they’re going to have to be bid on, we see the requirement that no one can bid below a certain amount, and we see that this means people are overbidding by default and can’t do anything about it. It’s truly idiotic.

Yet our stakes are so much higher in the real world than round after round of contestant overbidding on the toaster because they can’t bid below a certain amount. In the real world, we end up with unemployment. We end up with people being fired because the employer is unwilling and/or unable to pay someone $9 an hour to do some menial task. We watch a father of three panic over money because he can’t find a job–even McDonald’s continues to hire one teenager after the next, because there are more potential workers than there are jobs available, and the father of three inherently involves more hassle than hiring another pimply seventeen year old nerd.

Yet imagine the opposite! Just as there are, right now, more potential workers than there are jobs available*, so could there be more jobs available than there are potential workers. Look at what this does to the Balance of Power–instead of having a condescending interviewer ask, “What can you do for the company?” we have a grinning worker asking one interviewer after the next, “What do you have to offer me?”

Instead of the workers undercutting each other out of necessity, the employers undercut each other.

“I’ll give you $8.25 an hour,” says the first.

“They offered you $8.25/hour?” asks the second. “Ha. We’ll match that, and we’ll give you stock options.”

“Hm, those are pretty good offers,” says the third. “I tell you what. I’ll give you $10/hour, stock options, and a 3% 401K match.”

That world is possible. It’s a world that exists only when there are more jobs to be done than there are workers to do them. The Minimum Wage ensures that this world does not come to fruition; the Minimum Wage guarantees that workers compete with one another for a job, instead of employers competing with one another for workers. The Minimum Wage is at the heart of this issue. Just look around, at all the stuff that needs to be done–yet isn’t being done. And then look at the millions of Americans who are unemployed, and ask yourself, “Why can’t these unemployed people be hired to do this stuff that isn’t being done?”

The answer, of course, is “Because we made up the rule that contestants couldn’t bid below a certain amount.”

Because, for some weird ass reason, we thought that doing so would make the toaster more valuable.

* Note that, per the title, this isn’t strictly true–the jobs are available, but no one is allowed to hire anyone to do them because of the requirement that bids be a certain amount.