WCG Project Coordinator Dylan Hua Shares His Gender-Affirming Journey in Honor of Transgender Day of Visibility

On the heels of this year’s Transgender Day of Visibility, Webcor Concrete Project Coordinator Dylan Hua has decided to publicly come out to his fellow Webcorians as a transgender man.

April 3, 2024

Employee Spotlight

Sunday, March 31 was Transgender Day of Visibility, an internationally recognized day dedicated to celebrating the lives and contributions of transgender people while acknowledging the rampant discrimination, poverty, and bigotry-fueled violence that have plagued the transgender community for decades.

On the heels of this year’s Transgender Day of Visibility, Webcor Concrete Project Coordinator Dylan Hua has decided to publicly come out to his fellow Webcorians as a transgender man. Below, Dylan shares his journey as a member of the LGBTQ+ community—grappling with his true gender identity, navigating endless questions and assumptions about his gender since childhood, his initial concerns about joining the construction industry, and his gratitude for Webcor’s people and culture, particularly Webcor Queers & Allies (aka Webcor Q&A, Webcor’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group).

"The safety I now feel in speaking up about my gender identity is a testament to the people and culture of Webcor, as I know many other places still struggle with this topic,” he writes. “Based on my experience, Webcor isn’t one of them.”

by Dylan Hua, Webcor Concrete Project Coordinator

I’d like to start by saying that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer-plus (LGBTQ+) experience is unique to every individual; as you’ll see, my own journey was filled with constant discovery.

Growing up, strangers used my clothes and demeanor to conclude that I was my siblings’ little brother. People often referred to me as “young man” or “little boy,” which never bothered me the way it probably would have bothered other kids. I, like other elementary school kids, became what is known as a “tomboy,” i.e., a girl who hated anything associated with “girly-ness,” such as the color pink or Barbie. I was happier playing basketball and imagination army than I was playing imaginary house with the girls at school.

My family always dismissed it as a phase: “Let kids be kids; they’ll grow out of it,” they said time and time again. As I progressed through middle school, however, it became increasingly clear that this “phase” wasn’t going to end any time soon. This continued into high school, as my opposition to society telling me to wear dresses and skirts only grew stronger.

At that point in my life, the concept of being transgender wasn’t something I knew much about. I’d never met anyone who identified that way and didn’t see any representation in the media I consumed. I eventually learned the term “nonbinary” online when I was 16: “Those whose gender identity falls outside of the gender binary.” That definition resonated with me—I knew I wasn’t a girl, but I didn’t want to change everything about myself to become a boy, either.

I eventually grew confident enough to take the first step in my public transition: telling my closest friends that I didn’t mind them using either set of pronouns (“he/him” or “she/her”) to describe me. At the time, I was just happy to be called a boy at all; if someone changed their mind about my pronouns later, I just wouldn’t correct them. This led to my best friends referring to me as both “he” and “she” in the same sentence and my cousins saying things like “Hey, I thought it was ‘he,’” to which another would respond, "Well, I said ‘she’ and they didn’t get mad.” It wasn’t easy for many people in my life.

After joining the Navy and meeting life-changing friends who helped ignite my self-confidence, I confirmed that I needed to change my name at 20 years old. I wanted to blend in as much as possible and feel confident in myself.

My name change would be the second-biggest public step in my transition. Those in my inner circle were happy to either use a blend of pronouns when referring to me or stick with “he/him” for simplicity. But it wasn’t until I met my girlfriend, who has supported my journey at every turn, that I became confident enough to proudly tell everyone my pronouns were “he/him.” Since the start of our relationship last year, she has proudly defended me and my pronouns to people I’m nervous around, as I tend to avoid confrontation. Her steadfast confidence when coming to my defense moved something in me; I realized that if she could correct people and they obliged, I should be able to publicly idenitfy by my true pronouns.

Working in Construction as a Transgender Man

I joined Webcor on August 1, 2022. When I completed my onboarding documents, I didn’t have the opportunity to indicate my preferred pronouns—just my legal ones. I was disappointed, as I didn’t feel comfortable correcting people in an industry notorious for stereotypical male bravado. It felt (and still feels) safer to explain my preferred pronouns in writing than it does to correct someone in person. I also wasn’t fully out at the time, so I wasn’t comfortable discussing my pronouns the way someone who had fully transitioned might have been.

Throughout those first few months, I received countless emails in which the sender referred to me as “he/him” based on my name, which I loved. My positive reaction was completely unbeknownst to my coworkers, however. Unlike clients, trade partners, and remote coworkers who had never met me in person, my on-site coworkers always referred to me as “she/her” based on my appearance and would correct anyone who referred to me as “he/him” over email.

Considering the construction industry’s hyper-masculine reputation, I was terrified to be myself and correct anyone. That is, until I found out about Webcor Q&A, Webcor’s LGBTQ+ ERG, and met others like me.

Without Webcor Q&A, I would have had to build a network of LGBTQ+ colleagues through word-of-mouth, which was key to building the confidence I now feel in Webcor’s culture. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one who understood the LGBTQ+ experience was incredibly empowering. Sure—I knew California held generally favorable views of the LGBTQ+ community, and I’d read Webcor’s policy stating that people like me were expected to be treated fairly. However, I had spent years in the Navy, where being myself would have gotten me kicked out because they wouldn’t have known what to do with me. I had watched friends who had publicly transitioned [to another gender] under President Obama’s final policy in the military eventually suffer career freezes/cuts when the policy was immediately reversed under President Trump.

From the moment I joined Webcor, I wanted to feel safe and free to be myself. I didn’t want to be complacent about people misgendering me anymore, as I’d been forced to do in the Navy for so long. I was motivated to really speak up in this article because I truly admire the people who have made Webcor a safe space, and I wanted to bring attention to the assumptions and injustices thrust upon the LGBTQ+ community. The safety I now feel in speaking up about my gender identity is a testament to the people and culture of Webcor, as I know many other places still struggle with this topic. Based on my experience, Webcor isn’t one of them.

The Power of LGBTQ+ Allies

Whenever you visibly support those dealing with the current state of transgender-related issues, please know that your allyship is seen and appreciated. You are helping us build a welcoming space for the LGBTQ+ community, something that’s increasingly needed as anti-trans bills continue to surge throughout the country. My colleagues’ reassurance that people like me belong in this industry, that not everyone in the U.S. is out to get us—it gives me hope that other “traditional” industries could embrace the LGBTQ+ community, too,

Honoring Transgender Day of Visibility or any other “awareness” day/month may seem like a small gesture. However, I strongly believe that these events go a long way in bringing difficult topics to light and educating others on the challenges certain groups face, whether they be culture or identity-related.

If you take one thing from my story, I hope it’s that we should avoid assumptions about others’ gender identities and keep an open mind. I encourage you to use gender-neutral pronouns when referring to those you’re unsure of or to simply ask them to confirm their pronouns. You never know where someone is on their journey, and just hearing that kind of safe language can go a long way in fostering inclusion and belonging amongst your team.