I’m a computer scientist at the point in my postdoc where I will have to decide soon whether to apply for faculty positions this fall or go to industry, in the US/Canada/UK/maybe Europe.1
But I’ve also recently come to the realization that spending half of my waking hours fervently wishing I had been born a girl could be a sign that maybe I should be doing something about that.
My situation is such that I doubt I would be able to really “pass” anytime soon, if ever. Even if I went all-out on transition immediately – which I’m not sure I’m ready for anyway – I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t be quite obviously physically trans at interview time and at least for a while afterwards.
I’d be fine presenting male through the faculty interview process and so on; my dysphoria is not particularly acute, and I have not yet started on hormones or anything. But I am certainly not willing to wait until tenure! I’m old enough already. (~30, but losing hair fast….)
Transition will obviously make life harder either in industry or in academia. But assistant professorships are not like normal jobs. Getting students, perhaps getting grants, perhaps teaching, and probably a million other things will all be harder in the midst of transition. It would also be combining two quite stressful experiences at the same time, and early-stage assistant professorships are not necessarily the most friendly job to the possibility of required medical absences / etc.
By contrast, my assumption is that a job as a researcher at some tech company will only provide the “usual” amount of discrimination and inconvenience, with probably better capability to handle potential medical issues, much more financial support for a potentially expensive process, and maybe fewer people I’ll need to convince I’m a real person. A greater portion of these jobs are also going to be available in a major liberal city with the support structure for this process (and near my existing social networks for support).
And yet, ideally I think I’d want to be on the faculty market anyway.
So: how infeasible is transitioning as an early-career faculty member? Should I abandon this path for now and go to industry research instead, and maybe come back to it after a few years?
I’d particularly love to hear from anyone who’s been in a similar situation, or to be pointed to examples of academic scientists who’ve transitioned before being well-established in their careers.
(This seems to be the only relevant question on the site, but is broader, and the examples of trans academics there seem to have all transitioned after already being quite established [except Lynn Conway, who (a) did this in the 60s/70s and (b) had to completely restart her career in “stealth mode”]. There are also a few on workplace about related situations for “normal” jobs, but I’m looking for academia-specific thoughts.)
1 I don’t really want to do another postdoc; I’m in the second year of my current one, with a professor who’s relatively prominent in my subfield, and though it’s been great I can’t help but think that a second one almost anywhere else would be seen as a “step down.” Doing multiple postdocs is also quite rare, though not unheard of, in my area. My current position is “term-limited” before another faculty cycle comes around.