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13 August 2013

Michael Wallent (1969 - ) IT executive

Michael Wallent was raised in Boston, Massachusetts and studied engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He married a woman, and moved to Seattle to join Microsoft in 1996 and advanced quickly.

By 1999 he was overseeing the team of 300 working on Internet Explorer, and was known for his blunt even aggressive comments re his team's work.

By 2005 he had had two children and had divorced and remarried. He was now head of a team that helped design the look and feel of Windows Vista.

In 2007 he and his second wife had a child, and he took paternity leave. At this time Wallent told his wife that he was transgender. On return to work Megan Wallent explained the situation to her boss, and then to the others on the team. She took six weeks leave, started her blog, had breast implants and facial surgery. When she returned to Microsoft it was to a different division.

It was noted that Megan's management style was different in that she asked probing questions to help the engineer find a solution. She discussed her situation re the Microsoft transgender healthcare program with the Microsoft JobsBlog:
"The other thing that gets complicated is that what they will pay for is mostly bottom surgery. Turns out that for FTM [female-to-male] transgendered folks, bottom surgery is kinda not the thing. And even increasingly for MTF [male-to-female] transpeople, bottom surgery isn’t necessarily for everybody. I didn’t have it. I have no plans to have it. I’ve been very public about that. I had facial surgery, and that’s not something that benefits would cover.
It raises interesting issues of what’s elective. Is it elective to pass? It brings up this fundamental question: if you believe that Gender Identity Disorder is a medical issue, and you want cure people of that, what is that? Is it all about bottom surgery? I’m going to say no. Gender identity isn’t about your parts, it’s about how you present yourself to the world. I’ve had this conversation with senior folks in HR, and they get it."
In 2010 Megan joined the board of Out & Equal, which advocates for LGBT equality in the workplace.

In March 2013 Wallent announced on her blog that he was returning to being Michael, purportedly because of the health risks for "someone with my genes" associated with estrogen.

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