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Pride stories: Being able to be myself changed everything

During Pride month, we’re exploring the importance of our LGBT+ colleagues being seen and heard

Hear how coming out at work helped Luca, a manager from Deloitte Japan, be his true self.

My journey toward coming out as transgender is really a story about finding freedom through bringing my whole self to work. This freedom to be my true self helped me discover new meaning in my professional life and take better care of my mental health and well-being.

My childhood dream was always to work as a man -in a suit and tie. Growing up in Japan, where traditional gender roles are still the unwritten but clear expectation, I tried hard to assimilate, not to stand out. It never occurred to me to come out, the term of LGBT+ was not even familiar when I joined the firm over a decade ago.

For 10 years I never fully showed up at work—at least not as my true self. While I enjoyed my job, the stress of hiding my true self and not being able to share all of who I was had a negative impact on my mental health and well-being and around three years ago, during busy season, I got ill and lost a lot of weight. I had to take a long hard look at how I lived and worked, and I realised something had to change.

Introducing Luca

At first, I thought about leaving the firm. But after talking with my local Diversity & Inclusion leader, I decided to stay, come out of the closet and get involved in our efforts to foster inclusion at Deloitte. It was a scary decision with little precedent in my professional field, but I came as transgender first to my team and then to my client. In some ways, being the “first” helped me find meaning in my decision and it’s a decision that has transformed my life in the most positive way.

Until I came out, I had no idea of the burden I had been carrying with me and the energy it took to effectively live a double life. No longer having to hide and make up a fake version of myself lifted a weight from my mind. My mental health improved and I found that I was able to bring fresh energy to my work life and enjoy just being myself.

And when I was able to realise my childhood dream and go out in public in my first man’s suit and tie many people said they were proud of me, which made me so happy that I had to hold back my tears.

It’s been three years since I came out and I’m now supporting others in the LGBT+ community through my involvement in our local LGBT+ allies group. The support of the LGBT+ allies network and the full backing of Deloitte means that all LGBT+ colleagues can feel seen, heard and comfortable in who they are.

Luca (he/him), Deloitte Japan

Be your whole self. Be seen. Be heard. Be proud.