T-Mobile Pride Spotlight: I Am an Advocate

Jun 24, 2022 12:00 PM ET

For Jason Bayless (They/Them), a Community Expert at T-Mobile’s Colorado Springs Customer Experience Center, their advocacy stems from a painful experience with a previous employer and a desire to give back to those who showed them what true advocacy looks like.

“The reason I started at T-Mobile, and it’s a reason that I hear a lot of people say that they are at T-Mobile, is because it is a place that they are able to truly be themselves,” says Jason. “Not embracing that and not stepping out of what for me personally had been a very easy bubble of just passing — that wasn’t being true to myself because I was not giving back what this company had given me, and it’s not helping to pave the way forward for other people.”

Jason became co-chair of the Colorado Spring Pride ERG chapter as a way to advocate for others. Jason’s story of qualifying for hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery and being supported by T-Mobile’s benefits plan along the way is profound because of the way they felt unable to do basic things according to the gender they identified as in previous jobs.

“More than anything, it had to do with the people around me,” says Jason.

Not comfortable with being out at work previously often led to Jason being “pegged as a lesbian” because there simply were no open conversations about it and using the restroom they felt comfortable in was never something they were able to even consider.

While Jen Palmer says most all of T-Mobile’s properties, including its headquarters, call centers and retail locations, have genderless bathroom options, the company’s gender transition guide and employee handbook also state clearly that “all employees should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity” and that “employees should determine the most appropriate option for themselves.” It’s a policy Jason says they never had before, and the lack of that protected inclusivity caused very public derision.

“Once in a meeting at another company I was very pointedly told by upper management in front of everyone that I was not allowed to go into the restroom that I actually identified as, because that’s not what it showed on my birth records,” recounts Jason. “It's not what showed on my ID. And if I did not agree with it, there was the door. These people that I’d worked with for years, looked me in the eye and then literally physically pointed at the door. I was broken.”

Compare that to the experience Jason had after joining T-Mobile, where they say managers and co-workers not only supported all the protocols to change their name and pronouns after their transition, but even quickly helped fill their shift when a last-minute appointment for part of their gender affirming surgery became available. From the small things to the very big things, Jason says there’s no price you can put on the value of being surrounded by advocates.

“You don’t have to always make a big splash to make an impact,” says Jason. “To turn to my coworker, a cis male who says he has never known anyone who wasn’t straight and have him say we can participate together in ‘No-Shave November’ now that I have been able to grow a full beard, is so incredible.”

Hear from several transgender T‑Mobile employees as they discuss what Pride Month means to them.