Alex Whisman remembers panicking when he received an email saying women had to wear a blouse, slacks, dress or skirt. His increased anxiety led to self-examination and a profound realisation.
“It seems like such a little thing but it can be a big deal to someone” – Alex Whisman
“I had this panic moment because I didn’t want to choose a female uniform, because that’s not who I was. I was not female,” Whisman says.
Unlike many trans-people who grow up knowing they’re transgender, Whisman was 34 when he realised he identified as male.
“Looking one way and feeling another, especially when you’re acutely aware of it, it’s very difficult,” he says.
The wardrobe edict came in 2004. Despite his apprehensions, Whisman called a meeting with ANZ's head of human resources and embarked on his transition from female to male with full support from his workplace.
His transition involved legally changing his name, gender and 'coming out' to over a hundred people in a day.
“At the time I didn’t know what support I’d get from the bank," Whisman says. "Was I going to lose my job?”
Despite the high personal stakes, he proceeded anyway and it paid off. Today, many people Whisman works with may not even realise he was born female.
“Some people are really uncomfortable with their past," he says. "They’ve moved on because they had a difficult past. For me - my past is who I am.”