It was the late ‘80s, and Alan Porter was head of a large technical documentation department for an aerospace company. “A member of my staff came in one day and said: ‘I’m going into hospital for three weeks. When I come back, I’m going to be a woman.’” That was Alan’s first experience supporting someone through a transition, and since then, a number of his friends and colleagues have come out at transgender. As a leader, he says his biggest challenge was managing the reactions from her colleagues. “That was a big eye opener for me – that it can provoke a very unjustified, visceral reaction in people.”
Today, Alan develops most of Nuxeo’s industry thought leadership content, including webinars, whitepapers, blog posts, speaking engagements, and his favorite: the Nuxeo Content Journeys podcast. He chose to join Nuxeo after years of recommending it to his consulting clients, and says of all the places he’s worked, Nuxeo is the closest to feeling like a family. The welcoming and open attitudes translate into a diverse and inclusive culture, but maintaining that culture requires continual education and building awareness on different topics. Alan recounts helping some of his colleagues learn about why deadnaming (using the name a transgender person was given at birth and no longer uses) is harmful, and other things he has learned to help trans people feel more welcome and respected at Nuxeo.
But the most important thing he’s learned and wants everyone to understand, is the incredibly positive impact that transitioning has on a person.
My closest friend who transitioned a few years ago– the first time I saw her after she transitioned, she was literally a different person. I don’t just mean physically. It’s interesting: she smiled. And I suddenly realized I’d never seen them smile in all the years I’d known them. She’s become this glowing, smiling, laughing individual out there helping people… In every single instance they’ve been a much much happier and better person as a result [of transitioning].
Alan’s close friend is in his writer’s group, and he goes on to talk about how her writing changed after transitioning. He says he noticed changes in his own writing as well, as he’s learned more about the LGBTQIA2+ community– more gay characters, for example, even though he didn’t consciously set out to write them that way. As the conversation comes to a close, he reflects on everything he’s written in his career, and the themes of the police procedural he is currently writing. “I’ve never thought about whether I have a theme or particular thing I am trying to say [through my writing], but I think it comes back to the theme of this interview: be who you are.”