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Penelope Phippen
Penelope Phippen

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Penelope: Nevertheless, She

Hi Penelope,

You're new to this. It certainly feels strange to be writing a letter to yourself on International Women's Day. But you can't help but smile reading that. Yourself, International Women's Day.

This is a space that's new for you. To be celebrating yourself with other women. And you should be mindful of that. You've come here through a very different path than all the cis women, and many of the trans women and non-binary folks who also got here. You've gone the majority of your career enjoying male privilege. You've started to see some of that privilege fade away, as the world interprets you as more feminine. Gosh it's annoying to be interrupted and spoken over by a man who has no idea what he's saying. Some of that privilege, however, comes from inside and will always be a part of you. So this is a time to listen, as much as it is a time for you to speak.

That isn't to say you shouldn't be here, celebrating, with all the other women in technology. Transition is hard. Say that to yourself one more time. Transition. Is. Hard. Just yesterday, on Friday, one of your colleagues misgendered you, unintentionally, and he quickly apologized, but that's a paper cut. A paper cut that still stings every time. A sting that you'll feel many more times. This is one of many thousands of ways that you'll be reminded you're different. Reminders that will follow you for the rest of your career. It's something that'll never really disappear.

Neither, though, need your difference disappear. You are an unmitigated badass, you've worked on projects that have literally defined the direction of the Ruby community. You're the program chair for the largest conference in the community that gave you all the success and love you could have ever asked for. You're working on something new, that has the potential to reshape the way people work with the Ruby programming language, and it's bringing you so much happiness.

You get to be a woman now, and you get to define what it means for you. You've already seen amazing things sprout because of it, and you know there are more to come. It's not going to be easy, and the change that's coming will bring much hardship along the way. But you know it's worth it. You know it's worth spending the time to work out how to be you. Really, to be yourself, for the first time in your adult life.

The slogan for this post is "Nevertheless, She Coded,” but here's the thing. For you, the code comes easy. It always has and it probably always will. Your closest friends and peers have commented that your technical strength is scary and impressive, and that some of them are a little bit jealous. For you, it'll be everything else, this new life around the code that'll be hard. So perhaps, instead of "Nevertheless, She Coded" right now you just need to celebrate, yourself: Nevertheless, She.

Top comments (3)

michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

Can DEV create new functionality, just so it's possible to give this more ❤️s?

Thanks so much for sharing your story Penelope! I hope you continue to share more and more awesome articles, both technical and personal.

erikaheidi profile image
Erika Heidi

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Penelope 💗 I had the pleasure to work with you in a difficult period of my life, and having you as colleague made such a big difference for me, how supportive you were, a great mentor, a great friend. Thank you for everything, I've learned a lot from you 💜

vintharas profile image
Jaime 🔥🧙‍♂️🔥

Thank you for sharing your story. Sending you lots of strength and happy thoughts for the trials ahead. 🙂💪