Lynn Conway – Gender Transition

Lynn Conway excelled in math and science courses and was accepted at MIT. She suffered from unease about her biological gender. Due to a failed gender transition surgery while at MIT she dropped out of college. She worked as an electronic technician until she decided to return to college, this time at Columbia University.

After completing her bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, she took a position with IBM. She became a member of the team working on advanced computing systems. Their work provided the architecture for many of today’s high-performance microprocessors.

While working at IBM, Lynn learned of advances in gender transition surgery. She had successful surgery. Under prevailing laws at the time, Lynn was denied access to her two children after the surgery. She was also fired by IBM. Fifty-two years later, IBM apologized for her firing.

She changed her name and identity to resume her career. During her career, she pioneered the development of a number of computer design innovations making chip design and production more efficient. Her work subsequently led to a number of technology startups.

When Lynn neared retirement, she began to be more open about her transgender status. She created a website with information for transgender individuals. She also became an advocate for transgender rights. In addition to her many honors in the field of computer design, she has also been honored for her work in securing the rights of transgender individuals.

You have to wonder how many success stories like Lynn’s it will take to accept gender reassignment individuals. As a country, we still haven’t accepted transgender rights in many areas (e.g., the right to compete in sports based on gender identity).

Just imagine why we still have difficulty accepting individuals for how they identify as gender and not how they are as humans. It seems unbelievable that one of our leading corporations would take more than 50 years to apologize to a person for simply wanting to undergo gender transition.

* * *

“From the 1970s to 1999, I was recognized as breaking the gender barrier in the computer science field as a woman, but in 2000 it became the transgender barrier I was breaking.”– Lynn Conway

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.