My Name. My Confidence: How IBM’s Name Change Tool Changed My Experience at Work as a Transwoman

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IBM has introduced a limited pilot program for employees in select countries to participate voluntarily in a name change override program. The program is designed to alter the participant’s name in a subset of applications linked to IBM’s directory. Let’s hear Kristina’s story about the program.

By Kristina Justine

For some, a name is just a name and shouldn’t be an issue while for others, a name is who we are, it’s our identity and it’s a window of our persona. Specially for a transwoman like me.

I’ve always been known as my nickname “Tinay”, when I started working in IBM since 2015, I usually introduce myself as Tinay to everyone and this includes the signature I use on my email.

However, my legal name always shows in internal communication channels and e-mail, so there are times people call me Justin and it’s okay.

Our team is working with people mostly within the US, Brazil, Mexico and sometimes Europe, so we send back and forth e-mails and talk efficiently on chat.

I’ve had few encounters of people asking me, why that picture they are seeing on my company profile pages are different from the name they are searching and seeing on those tools.

This opens an awkward moment, making me feel uncomfortable, making me think on how I should respond to them ? Most of the times I just simply respond, “Well it’s a long story, but please call me Tinay instead.” I usually don’t take off as I understand where they are coming from, their curiosity, and sometimes it’s confusing.

Outside of office, whenever I do have my doctor’s appointments or any others that will require my legal name to be shown it’s always an awkward yet funny experience for me. Often times they will call me and a surprising look on their faces to see a “beautiful woman” in front of them with a “handsome man’s name”. Mixed emotions, this is what I have in me. I feel happy and I sometimes smile and laugh seeing how they react because I hear positive things from them. Though, it’s sometimes humiliating because people are staring at me and this makes me wish that I don’t want to experience it anymore.

In the Philippines, there is no law that allows any transgender person to change his / her legal name including our gender markers, even if we undergo a Gender Affirmation Surgery. This is a sad reality we face and I’m hoping someday it can be changed.

Kristina Justine – the name I always wanted to see on any documents.

I joined our local Business Resource Group in the Philippines, EAGLE. I shared my experience and we talked about what we can we do to improve and be more inclusive, especially with our transgender folks so we started with the internal e-mail Name Change. We reached out to different teams and tried to check the process, we tried to do it and successfully IDs have changed. However, some other internal channels often revert back to our legal name due to system limitation.

One day, Steph our Diversity and Engagement Partner told us that Joy, our Global LGBT Constituency Leader, and the team worked on a tool that will help change our legal name on our internal social network profiles and chat. We were asked of our consent to try and we agreed. Successfully these tools are now showing the preferred name we always wanted.

This brought me so much joy, it helped me build my confidence and not be afraid to introduce myself and BE ME – more.

This may be a simple tool, a simple change, but has a deep impact with me, with us trans people.

Although, my documents and other back end tools requiring my legal name may not be changed, with the overall Name Change across many internal communication tools – I became more empowered and willing to do more for our transgender people.

IBM is home.


If you are interested in having a career in a workplace supporting diversity and inclusion, sign up for the IBM Talent Network!


The article first appeared on Kristina’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/blog-name-change-tool-tinay-binos/?published=t

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