12 August, 2009

background checks

i have been fortunate enough to have been offered a job through americorps recently and have decided to take it. i was filling out some of the paperwork yesterday and some of it deals with backgrounds checks. the paper explicitly stated that you had to list any other names you went by within the last seven years, which means i had to put my birth name on my paperwork. i was not and am not happy about this. while i understand the importance of knowing someone's legal history (especially if they are working with youth), i felt a bit violated that i had to out myself to my director and possibly other co-workers when they had only taken me in as male before (as i am perceived as male all of the time). when i handed in my paperwork my director briefly looked through it - i waited for some type of physical response (possibly wrinkled forehead muscles) and saw her momentarily look at my old name, but she didn't flinch. it's my hope that i will be treated with the same respect i was treated with before and that she will keep my private medical information private.

i guess the most frustrating part is that i am forced, in this situation, to be connected to an old identity i don't identify with any longer. putting the trans issues aside, i think most people would find this piece frustrating - marking someone with something that was part of his/her old self, which is no longer applicable.

i am curious to know if anyone else has any experiences with background checks - please comment and share your story.



Andrea said...

I'm MtF and work in an environment where I have a security clearance. I am faced with the exact same situation as you describe every time I have to fill the background check forms. We update them every 5 years, so every 5 years, I have to list my old name, and answer all the other questions (have you ever seen a therapist, do you have a selective service number, list any legal actions, etc...).

So far it hasn't been a problem, but it is highly frustrating to have to revisit and republish my past.

Good luck with your background check (and the job)!


Luke said...

Glad to hear it hasn't been a problem. You are a brave soul! Thanks for your comment

Kara said...

I had to fill out a security form (an sf-86?) for a clearance back before I transitioned (TS - have to love the acronym). Anyway, for the "list all names" question I listed every possible variation of the name Kara ppl had called me by. When they asked me about it I just said they were pennames (technically they were, since usually it was over the internet) and they left it at that.

Jenna said...

I had this issue come up once in a not-so-happy circumstance. I'm a software developer. A month after I completed my name change and started living full-time, I became unemployed.

I worked with a head-hunter to find a new position for me. She found one at a window fabrication company. I dressed smartly and went in for my first interview as a female.

It went wonderfully. They were impressed and delighted. They had been looking for someone to convert their old UNIX based system to something that would work under Windows (this was back in 1996, btw).

When I got home, I got a call from the headhunter saying they had made me an offer. She sent over the application and on the application it asked if there were any prior names.

I called the headhunter and talked to her about the situation. I didn't want to lie on the application (especially since it could be found out through a background check). She didn't think it would be a problem and called them about it.

She called me back saying that my new employers had retracted their offer. When I asked why, she said, "They said it was a matter of honesty... but... I don't see how you've been dishonest!"

Considering their stance on the situation, I could have taken action against them but didn't. I was convinced that I didn't want that hard of a life and figure that the most I could win in Florida was the right to work somewhere I wasn't wanted. If I could go back in time, I would tell me to not be afraid... and that some things are worth fighting for.

Be honest, be true to yourself and fight for what's right. Even though I could look back on that with regret, instead it has become a lesson for myself and others. Good luck to you!


Luke said...

Thanks for sharing Jenna, sorry to hear that happened to you. I heard a story recently about a transwoman who had the same thing happen and had the prospective employer actually write up a memo saying why they didn't hire her (I can't believe the employer would actually incriminate themselves like this!) The woman ended up taking them to court and winning her case. Yes, I would much rather be honest with myself than hide in fear, no matter what that means. Peace

Toby said...

Congrats in the Americorps job. I am a whole hearted fan of them. I did NCCC back in 2004.
Yet I'm sorry to hear about the outing. It is frustrating. You can always claim the boy named sue thing. :)
I can't wait to hear more about the Americorps job.

Luke said...


Diana said...

I'm sure AmeriCorps is the least likely place to freak out about that stuff. Just slowly let the next 7 years pass and you can forget about it then! Or do write "Cole"?