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Meet Mike

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Meet Mike

So, who is Mike?
I was born in Romania, but have been living in the Netherlands for almost 10 years now. An avid science fiction consumer, I also discovered I love baking ever since this pandemic started. I’m happily married to one amazing woman, Livia; she is truly my better
half. My preferred pronouns are he, him.

When did you realise you were trans?
It took the support of my wife and my sister at first, but in my 30’s I finally had the courage to admit it openly to myself, my family, my friends and do something. The catalyst that moved me from fear to action was the idea of growing old and not having allowed myself to experience life as my true self and that my parents would never get a chance to meet and know the real me. That would have been such a waste: of life, of love, of shared happiness.

Why did you decide to come out when you did?
I came out in phases in my life, but the public and ‘official’ coming out was triggered by the fact that I was preparing to go into surgery with a quite long recovery period. I wanted to explain the long absence but also start anew with my return to work after this event, so I timed everything around my top surgery (breast removal). I also felt I needed to align my ‘out of office’ me with my ‘in office’ me. It was getting complicated as I was starting to answer to my colleague Mike’s name being called out too!

How did you feel about coming out at work?
I was nervous. I had so many fears and insecurities clouding my thoughts at first, but the more I spoke with people in our HR teams and LGBTQ+ group, the better I felt that I was doing the best thing I could do, for both me and everyone else – managing expectations, sharing information, being patient and kind.

What did you do to prepare?
Tons of things. I thought about the timeline for what needed to happen and about all the people that need to be informed, how and what sort of information they would need to make my experience as easy and as less confusing as possible. I plotted out who I
should be speaking to at work to help me get all the stuff done, from communication to administrative changes, all the way to just answering questions in my absence. While doing that I realised that not everyone knows all the terms I use to describe certain things (e.g. FTM, top surgery, HRT etc.), so I shared answers to some frequently asked questions.

What was it like coming out at Booking.com?
It was much better than all the scary scenarios I had playing in my mind given my more recent and difficult experience of having to get my family to understand and accept me. I truly got all the support I needed; I was in the driver’s seat, and that was a great feeling. I felt respected, listened to and well guided throughout the whole process. The company has been so great at this in my case, but at the end of the day it’s the individual people in the company that made the biggest difference! So a big thank you is definitely due to everyone that played a role in this!

What advice would you give to trans employees

if they’re thinking of coming out?

Be optimistic.
Plan for the worst and cover your bases, but expect the best; people will surprise you.

Tell your story.
Figure out what your story is, how you want the world to know you, then share it.

Make a plan.
It usually starts with getting answers to all the scary questions you have in your head, and get people to support you.

Talk to people.
Find someone you trust to help you figure stuff out, like your manager, HR or LGBTQ+ group. Learn from it. It may be scary at times, but know that you will get over it and that you will have learned from the experience.

Be patient.
Know that people won’t get it right overnight, it will take time. But there is light at the end of the tunnel – I have been there and I can report back!

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