A Paper I Wrote in Law School: Part III

Part III – My (Professional) Identity

I recently went to my first legal job interview and I had big decision to make: straight or natural? More than a year passed since I transitioned and I was faced with that marginalizing decision for the first time. Would I be passed over at first glance because of my hair, or would I get a true fair shot. After about a week of debating, I finally decided I would rather be passed over than work in an environment characterized by hostility. Admittedly, I felt very weird wearing a sharp pant-suit, pumps, and my untamed natural hair, but it become very empowering. I took that moment to own my new identity as a Black-American female professional. I figured since our society rests on labels, I should find my own meaning in them, and I think I have.

I also took a course that focused on helping students develop their professional identities as lawyers. Again, I am grateful for the timing of my life because this class made me appreciate spaces that accept my differences. I shared my interview story and in doing so I realized how my personal identity inevitably influences my professional identity as I become a “career woman.” I did get the job and it gave me hope that I can find community in spaces where I didn’t expect to. I spent the Summer worrying over how I would wear my hair and how this would affect my potential for employment. It would be naïve of me to think that all work environments would welcome me with open arms, but I hope that more women like me share their stories so those who don’t understand can stop holding us back.

Jannet Matthew