Transgender at a Hedge Fund

I currently work at a medium sized fund. My resume looks like what you'd expect, highly selective undergrad, good work experience, MBA from a top 3 program, passed the CFA the first time through, and have done well for the year and a half I've been at my current fund since graduating business school. Now here's the fun part: I'm transgender (male to female), and have recently decided to come out of the closet about it.

I wanted to toss this out to the forum and get your thoughts on my future career prospects in the fund management industry. While I doubt my current firm will fire me when I come out (they are too smart for that from an HR perspective), I do think they'll eventually ease me out over time. It's a small shop, and knowing the founder he won't like being known as "that fund with a trans analyst". I would also like to move to a new spot where I can establish myself from Day 1 as a woman, if for nothing else than to lessen my professional baggage.

Given how competitive hiring is in the hedge fund world (as the giant forums on this site can attest), do you think I ever have a shot of being hired anywhere else?

Comments (45)

 
Sep 27, 2016 - 6:30pm

People do care - and you should keep it about work, this also means keep your sexuality to yourself as that has nothing to do in the work place. We all have our own prejudices and you are more likely than not to encounter heavy prejudices regarding your choices, no matter what people are saying in this forum.
Also why are you even asking people on a random forum for advice on such a huge thing? Terrible idea.

 
Sep 28, 2016 - 1:49pm

From an educational perceptive, this is one of the more helpful responses, and I figured there would be more of these. First of all, gender and sexuality are different. Gay, straight, or bi are sexuality, and one's sexuality can easily be kept to yourself. Gender is trickier because it's literally the first thing someone notices about you, so you can't really keep it a secret.

I'm assuming you're older, and probably don't know anyone who is trans. Ask your junior analysts, I'm sure they do know a number of trans people, and it's probably just not a big deal to them.

 
Sep 28, 2016 - 3:26pm

09grad:

Nobody cares.

Keep it about the work. Most others will do the same, unless they're a real loser.

While incredibly unfortunate, this is not true. There is a lot of latent bias, especially in finance, and especially in mid to senior level positions.

I went from a very LBGT friendly industry to financial services. I'm hetero but found it shocking how LBGT employees at all levels of the organization had to act differently at the bank to fit in. Being out seemed to be OK, as long as you didn't talk about it., bring a partner to events, or act outside of heteronormal in the workplace. I'm talking everywhere from entry level to division heads. Everyone knew for the most part who was part of the LBGT community but it was never discussed.

I would be proud of who you are and not try to hide your trans status. But you have some hard choices as to whether you want to become a potential agent of change (read: risk your career) or play heteronormal in the workplace like my former colleagues above.

A lot of people don't care - the problem will be the smaller number of senior people who do, or those don't care but think it will impact the firm's reputation, as the OP pointed out.

 
  • Principal in HF - Event
Oct 23, 2016 - 7:11pm

To the op: the reaction depends heavily on the fund and the role. If you are in a client facing role then you are probably fucked (excuse the unintentional pun). Even if nobody at the fund cares they can't have you fucking up their client relationships. There is also the risk that either the firm management or the person you report to are assholes, in which case you're also fucked. Speaking personally, I've seen two different people come out as transgendered at my major HF (in non client facing roles) and there was no obvious negative impact on their careers.

 
Sep 27, 2016 - 2:20pm

You're going to be disadvantaged, especially if you are targeting boutiques and even middle market.

These are firms where hiring people is a personal thing. You will run into discrimination, you will have a hard time, but if you do your job well and you kill it, you'll do perfectly fine.

Just cause it'll be harder doesn't mean it'll be impossible. You already have the first job, so you're better off than you think.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller. "Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL
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Sep 27, 2016 - 4:39pm

Pardon the ignorance on my part - but have you already undergone the transition? I think it matters.

While we'd all like to believe everything is work and performance-based (it's not), there's a difference between letting everyone know, "I used to be a male," and showing up one Monday with lipstick and a dress on and announcing you're now female.

 
Sep 28, 2016 - 1:45pm

No problem on the ignorance. No, I have not yet come out as trans.

And just to dispel the stereotype you may be hinting at, no I am not a drag queen. I've already started buying my new work wardrobe, and it's pretty similar to my current one: trousers in neutral colors, button down shirts, and a few blouses. Just the tailoring, shoes, and accessories are different.

 
Sep 28, 2016 - 2:24pm

To get at what I think CaR is saying, you almost have to tell your coworkers. They would be pretty confused when they come back to work one Monday morning and there is a girl sitting in your seat. So let them know beforehand. I can't speak for everyone's attitude, but in general people will be accepting. He was just asking because there is a difference in telling everyone who knows you as a female that you used to be a male, versus telling everyone that knows you as a male that you will be a female in the near future.

 
Sep 27, 2016 - 5:25pm

I doubt that anyone is going to know the fund as "that fund with a trans analyst." However, if they do, that's easy marketing, right? Should be a positive to the manager if anything.. If you think I am joking, sometimes something "edgy" (no offense, it's just that trans aren't that common. Maybe that's the word I should use?) usually does catch the attention of your target, and they usually remember you better for that. Maybe your firm is already notorious; I don't know.

I do know a local lawyer because he wears an eye patch. I ran a business, and one of my targeted marketing tactics backfired, but it actually worked the best because of the error. Just saying...

 
Sep 28, 2016 - 2:08pm

I feel like most people that went to college have enough self-control to not make a big deal out of it. But that's an unusual thing to walk into in the morning. At best, it will never be mentioned directly. At worst, any small thing you do that goes wrong will be augmented into it being because you're the person that showed up trans one morning. We're talking about human flaws here when it comes to reactions to this type of thing.

 
Sep 28, 2016 - 5:04pm

I have nothing of value to add to the discussion other than wishing you the best of luck. Your transition wouldn't bother me but I won't pretend to speak for an industry. I hope the people in your shop feel the same way.

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Sep 30, 2016 - 10:16pm

Personally speaking, I and the people I know would be supportive. And, working in a place where one of our top management (CIO) is openly gay, our organization is definitely LGBTQ supportive. However, this is the East Coast, and definitely not the mid-west, so I would suggest you to try to approach it via below steps:

1. first talk to your co-workers, try to read them, and gauge how they react. that should give you a hint of how your new life will be

2. Let it process, and, in the meanwhile, schedule a 1:1 with your manager

3. Schedule a 1:1 with your HR dept (if one) and your manager, so that you have it official

As sad as it is, mid west is not 'broad minded' (apologies for generalizing), so you have to do what a lot of people do there - watch your back, and protect your interests first.

 
Oct 1, 2016 - 10:37pm

The east coast is pretty close-minded, too, but about different things. Love to see how a conservative Christian is embraced at a Manhattan bank.

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Oct 8, 2016 - 4:33pm

No one cares. Wouldn't even come up unless it means you can't drink or something. In that case, it sucks when people want to go out to celebrate but otherwise no one cares. The issues you have from being non-drinking would be the same issues anyone else would have, not related to your Christianity.

 
Oct 1, 2016 - 11:08pm

I can't say about the midwest or a fund but on my trading desk this wouldn't help or hurt you. That said from a supervisory point of view you have a few practical questions to think about (and how you will minimize hassle for your boss).

  1. Changing your name: At my company (large company with cumbersome IT) email addresses are notoriously hard to change. Obviously the name in outlook can be changed but changing the actual address never seemed to work well. There will obviously be a process for people who get married / divorced / etc but don't expect it to be smooth and probably let them know you're ok with that.

  2. I would do your boss the courtesy of telling them before you tell your co-workers. Same advice as someone who is pregnant.

  3. No matter how much your boss and senior management are supportive of you the one negative thought they are guaranteed to have is "oh shit, this is a legal minefield". You know your firm best, but what I would have appreciated is after being told in person having you follow up with an email saying something to the effect of "thank you for being supportive when I told you, I know this is an adjustment for the team, I know there might be bumps in the road and I'm going to be easygoing about a few assholes that might take a while to adjust". I promise you your boss(es) will sleep better that night with that email. If things go really sideways down the road you can always document that and I don't think you have lost anything.

  4. I wouldn't meet with HR ahead of time. That feels like a way to put a negative spin on it and frankly if my employees are meeting with HR without me knowing it makes me feel like its about to rain shit on me.

As an aside I've had coworkers pull the team into a room; tell us "i'm on some serious psych meds and my doctor is changing them so if I'm a little irritable its not you its me" and nobody blinked. Nobody gossiped and nobody cared.

Can you gauge how things might go over by comparing to any gay co workers experiences? If that went well I think you'll be ok. Conversely if it went badly maybe I'm dead wrong thinking thing will go well.

I hope it goes well for you - I have always believed finance (at the trading level) is the closest thing to a true meritocracy due to the fact that everybody trading is unbelievably greedy.

 
Oct 1, 2016 - 11:44pm

Chances are, doing so will probably mar your current position in one way or another. Many people including myself personally think that transgenderism is a mental illness, not to take away from your intelligence, I'm mad jealous of your job frankly. While we disagree with your lifestyle, you make your own decisions. Having said that, it'll be much less of an issue if you look for a job in a more liberal area, in fact the diversity factor (along with your qualifications) might make it even easier. But good luck

 
Oct 6, 2016 - 8:09am

It definitely will impact your potential working for others. You'd need an ideal PM/CIO who would support you to death and that may be hard to find. Conversely, are you confident or developed enough to run your own strategy? There are probably many allocators who would kill to give you seed capital. Diversity in fund mgmt. is lacking and there is a concerted effort to see that change.

 
Oct 10, 2016 - 1:40pm

I'm probably getting to the point I could spin off and run my own strategy. Would you mind private messaging me any ideas on seed allocaters?

 
Oct 8, 2016 - 4:47pm

Co sign everything Washedupandburnedout said. Realize that even if your colleagues are polite about it, it will take some getting used to. They will, however, get used to it.

No one will know your fund as "that one with the trans analyst". The idea of that being enough to 'label' a fund is, quite frankly, kind of laughable. You're just an analyst, not the face of the fund. Your trans status isn't even a footnote. If your boss eases you out, its a personal thing with him, not a business risk or reputation thing.

Hard to say exactly how the coming out process plays - on a small team its all about the individuals. With regards to recruiting, I might take the approach of just not bringing up that you were once male (to the extent you can avoid it given documents, etc you have to share). This is because I'm sure some people will take the @Virginia Tech 4ever" approach and simply write off another potential 'problem' (side note: bathrooms? seriously? we're adults. shouldn't even be an issue for males/females to share bathrooms. presumably no one's going to the bathroom to ogle other ppls genitals?)

Good Luck

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Oct 10, 2016 - 2:08am

Are you seriously suggesting that aside from the transgendered issue that people should have no problem sharing bathrooms with the opposite sex? I'm sorry but this isn't a TV show. In the real world people would be uncomfortable taking a piss with a woman looking in the mirror 10 feet away. Maybe if that's the only thing people ever knew (say, several generations from now) it wouldn't be weird, but for the 320 million Americans who are used to single-sex bathrooms that would definitely require a transition period (again, you're not talking about the

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