At age 24, she went through the process of gender transition by not identifying with the one designated at birth. “I’ve planned my whole life waiting for this moment,” he says in an interview.
From the age of 4, when she looked in the mirror, she said that she simply felt like a woman. “I would look at myself in the mirror and see a girl,” he recalls. “I have always had an androgynous appearance, and with the advent of the Internet I began to have access to articles on transsexuality, but little information on hormonal therapies, surgeries for sexual reassignment, and psychological factors that are decisive for the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. It was a huge light at the end of the tunnel for me. It allowed me to understand what I was going through and to have a sense of what lay ahead. ”
Becoming aware of the reality in which she lived was not easy for the engineer. The little information was added to the family’s lack of understanding so that Hashimoto forced himself to live without recognizing himself in his body for much of his life. Facing the transition began to become a possibility, but the fear of becoming a statistic of violence, since Brazil is the country that kills most transsexuals in the world, still weighed in the decision.
It was then that the support came from one of the most improbable environments: the company in which he worked.
In July 2015, I decided to talk about my situation with my manager at General Electric (GE). I was prepared to resign and throw my diploma away. My surprise came precisely from unexpected support. Knowing that the company would help me made things easier at home. My parents understood the situation and decided to enter the fight as well. I realized that it was possible to reconcile my career with happiness.
From then on, Hashimoto’s life turned into a roller coaster of discovery. From trust to the medical and psychological staff who supported the engineer, to the anxiety about receiving their new identification from colleagues, it was all backed up by a diversity advocacy group in the workforce.
Hashimoto went through the process of gender transition normally working. After three months out of the company for some surgeries, she returned to the company. “The day I returned, the reaction of my colleagues came as a surprise,” he says. “The comment was, ‘Now it all makes sense! Why did not you tell us before?'”
One year after the transition, Hashimoto received a proposal to work for another company – and works on it to this day. “It was when I realized that I had managed to leave behind my gender issues and had actually found a place in the corporate market. I realized the valuation in a market in crisis, something unimaginable for a trans person,” shares the engineer.
Bruno Pitzer, leader of GE’s LGBT group in Brazil, was the one who accompanied the entire transition process of Fernanda. Responsible for the support group for LGBT employees of the GE multinational, he says that the company has invested in inclusion and diversity projects for the last two decades for almost two decades.
In the early 2000s, the company’s global CEO, Jeff Immelt, stood in the defense that no one, regardless of gender, race or religion, would be discriminated against in the workplace.
According to Pitzer, from that positioning, all professionals would be equally considered for development opportunities within the company. “This is the case of Maria Fernanda,” he says.
In a recent text published in Medium, the company claims that its employees have a safe environment for professional development, with empowerment and inclusion actions, but it questions how it can contribute to the agenda in other companies and sectors of society.
In Brazil, the company has a group focused on recruiting, engaging, retaining and developing the talents of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders.
The goal is to ensure equal growth and career development opportunities within the company, and there are more than 400 allies spread across 14 company units dedicated to the group.
This support group in Brazil emerged in 2003 and currently has 450 members. They are responsible for information initiatives on LGBT experiences, exchange experiences between people from other companies and support social initiatives, such as the Purpurina Group, which welcomes young people who have been expelled from their homes for being gay or trans.
We have brought these young people into the company to see that there are opportunities other than prostitution, including in the corporate world.Bruno Pitzer
Maria Fernanda is GE’s first trans employee in the country, and Pitzer says that being part of this transition was a learning experience for the company. “She did not know the group existed, we totally supported the process with medical and psychological help. About their experience. ”
The head of the support group calls attention to improving Hashimoto’s performance. According to him, it is part of the company’s role to create a safe place for its employees to be themselves without any fear of retaliation or prejudice.
“When she was ‘inside the closet’, she was not performing 100%. When she can be herself, she began to give 120% of her to the tasks of the company. Everyone wins, “he says.
Pitzer further asserts that companies are increasingly attentive to diversity in their staff. According to him, this is part of a basic competitiveness strategy: “There are great talents that need space. If you do not open doors for them, you lose them. “