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Leading with Dignity
Dana • Fullerton

Dana Hargrave served in the United States Navy for 28 years. Today, she is a project manager at a major American military and aerospace contractor. This, however, is just a part of her journey. Dana is also a transgender woman. “For as long as I can remember, I knew I was female, or a woman, even though my body was male,” she said. Four years ago, with help and support of her doctors and her employer, Dana was able to transition and live every day as her true self.

Dana didn’t make her decision lightly. Working in a fairly conservative environment, face to face with customers, and with senior leadership in the company, she wondered, “What are people going to think?” Despite her fears, Dana proceeded to follow what she had always felt. Fortunately, Dana’s transition was eased with the support and admiration from her colleagues and friends.

Though in the early stages of her transition, her coworker, Scott Keck, admits that would sometimes misuse pronouns, Keck sees Dana as a woman. “I don’t have anything negative to say. She’s the best program manager I’ve ever worked with.” Emily Buck, another coworker, was unsure how she would react to the transition but found that she felt no differently towards Dana after the transition. “I admire her as a program manager. I admire her as a person.” Dana always carried herself with dignity and been respected at work. “She conducts herself with dignity at every point. You can’t argue with dignity and you can’t poke at it,” says Product Team Leader, Vicki Fleisig.  Her coworkers’ continued support and respect showed, transitioning does not have to be a painful, isolating experience. Embracing her identity, simply allowed her to be more herself than she was before her transition.

Dana wants only to be given the same treatment as any other human. “My preference is that I would never have to do interviews like this because I just want to go about my life as myself,” Dana said. “I am no different from any other person in the world and what we seek is inclusion…to love and to love others and that should not be denied to any human being. ”

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