Two months into the pandemic, while the world was shutting down and workplaces were sent into a scramble, Shiloh Jimenez (pronouns: they/them), came out as non-binary and transgender to their TD Bank team. At that time, they were working remotely as a Business Analyst and leading the Employee Experience Committee for Business Management and Governance when their personal and professional journeys collided.
"It was the onset of the pandemic, and professionally, I was tasked with maintaining a sense of connectivity and engagement while being mindful of the personal challenges we were all going through," Shiloh said.
All the while, Shiloh was going through their own transition. They were on a "journey of self-discovery and reflection."
“The first challenge was coming to the understanding that I have the power and ability to own who I am; I realized that the true me was buried deep within, and I was finally aware and prepared to bring the real me to the surface.” said Shiloh, who is currently a Senior Program/Portfolio Analyst.
In May of 2020, Shiloh, who has been with TD Bank for eight years, was met with an exceptionally supportive response from their manager when they came out as non-binary and updated their pronouns; they describe their manager's support as “phenomenal” and “open to being uncomfortable". Through her commitment to learn, Shiloh's manager, "set the tone for the team and created an accepting and inclusive environment".
One key aspect of Shiloh's manager's support was acknowledging and using their preferred pronouns. “Even though my manager didn’t always get it right, there was a commitment and continued effort to improve.”
Coming out to the team was met with a “tangible feeling, almost like an embrace,” even by way of virtual call. This welcoming feeling was unique in their journey. Shiloh followed up by sharing more of their story on internal and external platforms, including the request for people to leverage Shiloh's preferred pronouns.
Daily, Shiloh continues to advocate for trans and non-binary communities and understands that not everyone will be blessed to have support, personally or professionally.
The journey to find a true name
Beyond Shiloh's change in pronouns, they were seeking their “true name" to reflect their evolved identity.
“While I knew my previous name, Sarah, didn't fit, it was a journey to find a name that did. I scoured through list after list of names, but it wasn't until I connected with other trans and non-binary folks, that things started to align,” they say. This support came in the form of a trans-owned app, Trace, a place to celebrate transition, where Shiloh sought advice for their name-selection process. "A helpful suggestion was to 'try on' various names in smaller-scale interactions like ordering take out or at a coffee shop to see whether a name felt in alignment with my true identity."
“The years of waiting, hoping, and going through the process of choosing a name that fit me was worth it; there's a euphoric feeling associated with being addressed by Shiloh.”
“Others appreciate my name choice; I've received countless compliments from family, friends, colleagues, and strangers that say theylove the name Shiloh."
Shiloh continues to face challenges related to other's lack in understanding of pronouns usage and gender identity in general. “There was a lot of boxes I was being put in — you are either boy or girl, man or woman, you have got to help me out here, help me understand where to put you and as a result I was expected to show up a certain way," they said.
But, they say, "I chose to be true to myself, showing up authentically has created a culture of care and inclusion that allows others to open up about their own experiences too." Shiloh's visibility as a trans and non-binary leader has contributed to an environment in which colleagues can further their understanding and strengthen their allyship to better show up for the trans and non-binary people in their personal and professional orbit.
“My message has always been, ‘This is who I am, this is how I got here, this is the journey I’m on, and I’m always open if you want to talk.’” Shiloh said. "And to anyone questioning your identity, you'll find the answers within. Give yourself some grace and trust yourself and the journey.”