There are hardly any media companies that specifically court trans people. Depending on where you are in your transition, you can take a number of directions.
I’ll start by saying that right now, Deep Stealth is still in its early stages and we are still only bringing people on as independent contractors for specific jobs (ie: cinematographer for a particular film we’re making). Once that project is over, we part ways, though we remain friends with everyone we’ve worked with pretty much forever. Someday, I’d love to see us grow enough to bring on paid team members… Fingers crossed!
If you are very well integrated into life and society as female already, I would recommend seeking work at the best and largest company that will hire you, transsexuality be damned. Experience at CNN, ABC/NBC/CBS, etc is solid gold for when you move on to other companies that might suit your interests more, or start your own. I’m not saying you should be stealth, or not be stealth, or how you should choose to share your historyâ€šÃ„Ã®that’s your choice. True, complete stealth is a house of cards, in my opinion, but I like living my daily life without my trans past being the frontline issue of every waking moment, with every stranger and friend.
Of course, some companies like Logo (obviously), MTV (the parent company of Logo), VH1, etc or smaller firms like Wolfe Video have a reputation for encouraging varying amounts of acceptable uniqueness in employees. Ultimately, learning the basics about how to do the particular things you want to do (whatever they may be) would be pretty similar across the board… everyone has to pay some dues, fetch some coffee, learn industry standard software, equipment, procedures. You can do that anywhere, and take it to the next level at a bigger company or on your own projects.
By “well integrated”, I mean that you have your legal name change (do this before graduation if you can, so that your degree is in your female name!), with your lease, car title and registration, drivers license, Social Security card, school records and Birth Certificate reflecting the name change. It means you have been working on presenting the best possible personal appearance through grooming, makeup (if you choose) and clothing. You have been working on your voice (start at http://www.tsroadmap.com/physical/voice/ for free info and links to several programs… I’m not trying to sell you something, but of course we have methods on DVD that do work if the free stuff isn’t enough)â€šÃ„Ã®I can’t stress enough how important a truly “passable” female voice is in smoothing the way for you to move through society as female. You can look like a supermodel, but if a masculine (or “gay male”) sounding voice is heard, people will doubt your womanhood, whether you’re out or stealth.
If your transition is still in the early stages, and you are looking for a workplace that will be supportive during your actual metamorphosis, focusing on a GLBT media company is probably a good idea. Logo, Here!, Planet Out Media… or look at some GLBT films (recent) that you like, and look into who made them. Contact the producers/writers/production company/other team members (info at http://www.imdb.com) with a resume and brief cover letter explaining your goals and why they might consider bringing you on to start with them. Being trans can be a positive when applying to GLBT companies (not that there isn’t a specific kind of prejudice concerning us from many gay men and lesbians!), but saying you’re “about to transition” or “in the middle of transition” will almost definitely result in your resume being placed in the “circular file” (garbage can) at non-GLBT places. To even hope to get in the door at bigger places like major networks, I would #1 get your legal paperwork in order, and communicate with them in the most achievement-focused, gender-unfocused way possible until you get a meeting. Then show them face-to-face that you’re going to be able to deliver top-notch work even while you’re going through one of the more difficult things a person can possibly do (transition).
I would not advise basing your whole identity on transition, most specifically when writing to non-trans people. Obviously, it’s a point of commonality here for [you] and me, so it makes sense to mention it in a letter to me. But I would not write to the CEO of Here! Television with a resume cover letter that began: “Dear Mr. Reinhart, I am a transsexual student graduating with a degree in…”. If seeking employment at a GLBT company, I would mention something somewhere like (this is just off the top of my head), “My experience transitioning from male to female with (or without, if that was the case) the support of the GLBT community at Washburn University has shown me the power of supporting the spread of information and positive images related to GLBT people.” This would let them know that you are/have transitioned, and that you will be bringing something positive to their company because of it.
I will qualify all this advice by saying that I’ve just about never had a regular job. From Navy Combat Medic to seven years as a showgirl, to Deep Stealth and acting… None of those things required me to submit a formal resume. I still haven’t finished my Bachelor’s Degree. Being out in the Navy was not an option, and being a showgirl was all about being as wildly out as possible. The job world in 2007 may be a very different place than I realize, but honestly I hear from countless transwomen every day facing job discrimination or worse, so I feel like I have a good idea. Especially when it comes to media.
You will ultimately find your own path, and end up with your own unique story to tell once you’re sitting in a cool job, surrounded by cool people and with your life going in the direction you’ve always wanted. I always tell girls who write to me: Transition is never perfect, never easy and never finished. But it does get better, it does easier and it does recede into the background as time goes by. Continue to do your research, be prepared to make lots of calls, mail lots of packages, and ask for lots of advice from career counselors, friends and other transwomen who’ve made it (check out Lynn Conway’s list of TS Successes).