Why Are There So Many Transgender People in Technology?

Amethysta Herrick
Amethysta Herrick
Absolutely not my friends in elementary school. The Beastie Boys on set with “Thumbs-up Guy.”

I have a quickie thought that I wanted to get out of my head since three completely unrelated conversations recently led me to reconsider something that I had assumed to be a foregone conclusion. I promise there will be no science, no footnotes, and little actual content. That can come in the next article.

I currently work as a software developer. I am also a transgender woman currently in transition to present as a woman all the time. I use the word “currently” in both cases because I feel like I will have difficulty being successful as a software developer when my physical transition reaches the “tipping point” and I transition socially and expect everyone around me to treat me as a woman for the rest of my life. My belief is that I will be better served investigating a career change rather than trying to fit into the technology field as a woman.

I brought up my opinion about transitioning in the technology field to a friend of mine (Hi, Bill!) this past weekend. He told me that he knew several people in the python community who had either transitioned or were in the process of doing so. A friend of mine this morning (Hi, Ryan!) told me about another person in transition at work. So clearly transgender people exist in the technology field, even if I haven’t known many.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with the clinic overseeing the medical part of my transition. (Quick shout out here to True U Clinic, who has been phenomenal in understanding me and the needs I have for transgender care. Hi, Julie!). She told me that a sizable proportion of her clients work in the technology field. This made me wonder…why do so many of her clients work in technology? And how is it that I managed to come up with such a lame understanding?

My View of the Technology Field

What follows concerning the technology field is my opinion alone. You may or may not agree with it, and I am totally OK with that. Perhaps you have noticed that the technology field is dominated by men. No, not men. Nerdy males who (like I was) were probably pushed in the mud when we were in elementary school simply because we were nerdy.

You might find it astounding, but many nerdy males find it very difficult to interact with and understand females. There are probably several reasons why this is true, but I don’t intend to psychoanalyze every nerdy male right now. Instead, all I will make is a sweeping generalization that likely covers only my own story, but — as this is my article — I am well within my rights to do that.

Nerdy males have an obligation to prove to themselves and everybody around them that they are masculine. They will go out of their way on a daily basis to show you they are men, damn it, and you cannot think otherwise!

Are You Sure We’re Talking About the Same People?

At this point, you may be thinking to yourself “Amethysta, are you sure we’re talking about nerdy males? You think they need to appear masculine? And you say you’ve worked in this field?? Not too observant, are we, honey?” Bear with me on this one.

Think about bodybuilders for a moment here. When you can bench press something like half a billion pounds, the people around you are not questioning your masculinity. They may question your use of illicit hormone therapy and some of your life choices, but they are not questioning whether you are a Man Mountain.

In contrast, nerdy males in the technology field must prove to themselves and the nerdy males around them that they are masculine. To wit, they engage in stereotypically masculine behavior such as:

  • Taking rational discourse to a level of pedantry unbeknown to normal (non-technology) people
  • Engaging in arguments — sometimes to the death — about topics such as tabs versus spaces, whether 2023 will be The Year of Linux on the Desktop, and whether using [INSERT TEXT EDITOR HERE] makes you a hardcore developer or a newbie
  • Shouting down any dissenters online and in meetings about the topics above

There is a quote in a book by Mia Violet (Hi, Mia! It’s Amethysta! That friend you didn’t know you had?) regarding her own transition. I know I said “no footnotes,” but this is a good one[1].

By suddenly defining your life around something easily sold as a traditionally masculine pursuit, there’s the futile expectation that perhaps it will purge away these unwanted thoughts.

By trying to appear masculine, the transgender woman tries to fool herself and the people around her that she is masculine. It is a method to “prove” to ourselves that we are men and we don’t need to think we are women.

The Burning Need to Transition

Now I may understand now why there are so many transgender women in technology. When your life is centered around proving your masculinity at every step, it becomes a massive burden. Keeping up the facade is draining emotionally and physically. At some point, it hardly becomes worth trying to “prove” to anybody who you are. Despite all the effort, we do, actually, need to think that we are women.

As a result, we come out, we transition, and we stop suffering (about trying to prove our masculinity, anyway).

And Those Are the Kinds of Thoughts I Have!

So there you have it: why a) there are so many transgender people in technology who are transitioning and b) why it was not obvious to me this whole time. For what it’s worth, I am still rethinking who I am and — perhaps more importantly — why I am. But at least I have a little food for thought.

View References on Amethysta.io


Amethysta Herrick

Ami is a transgender woman dedicated to exploring identity and gender. She is Editor-in-Chief of Purplepaw Publications, LLC.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the offical policy or position of Purplepaw Publications, LLC. Please view the Disclaimer page for further information.