Whatever I endured, I reminded myself that I was in one of the better lines of work for trans people. I simply could not have imagined what my experience might have been like had I been, say, on Wall Street or in the military.
Or the CIA. I didn't think that people would even broach the subject in "The Company". In 1988, when computer expert Tracey Ballard "came out" as a lesbian, openly gay Americans were not allowed to have security clearances. Ballard's disclosure led to a lengthy investigation and made her an outcast in an organization in which homophobia was well-entrenched.
I didn't know Ms. Ballard's story at the time I started my transition. But I didn't think the CIA--or, for that matter, most other government agencies--had become much more welcoming than they were in the '80's or earlier.
However, around the time of my transition, things were starting to change. A few Federal employees made known the discrimination they endured. One such case resulted in a landmark ruling for a retired Army Special Forces colonel whose offer of a job as a terrorism specialist at the Library of Congress when she revealed her intention of starting the job as a woman. Now other Federal agencies--including the CIA--have adopted protocols to protect transgender employees.
One of those employees is someone identified only as "Jenny", a Middle East expert who "came out" to her supervisor three years ago. Today, according to the account I read, her identity is "an afterthought" to her fellow employees.
Tracey Ballard could not have hoped for such a happy ending--in 1988. At least some can hope now.