Bits and Behavior
Published in

Bits and Behavior

Transition is like an earthquake: destructive, all-consuming, overwhelming, and a chance to rebuild.

Transition and overcommitment

  • A few weeks after coming out, I flew to New Orleans to be on a panel, attending my first conference after coming out. I remember sitting in the back of an Uber listening to the drive complain about all the sickening trans people on Bourbon street, wondering if I was safe.
  • The next week I spent four days in Eastern Washington networking with a hundred people on CS education. An old man tried to help me fill the air in my rental car tires and creepily watched me lean over to pump each tire.
  • The week after that I traveled to Olympia, Washington, to help shape the state’s definition of computer science. Half the people in the room knew I was trans, the other half didn’t, and I sat wondering all day whether it mattered.
  • The next week I flew to Finland for a conference, terrified about how my fragile femme voice might hold up for two days of flying, three days of talking, and a keynote. I found myself not talking partly out of insecurity and partly out of a reflexive response to gender norms of women listening instead of talking.
  • Finally, I had what could have been an epically awkward Thanksgiving with my daughter, my ex, my wife, my father, my mother, my brother, his lesbian wife, my ex’s husband, and my ex’s parents. It all turned out fine, largely because of my daughter’s outstanding Kahoot quiz, which broke the tension. The only fail was that my daughter and I accidentally wore the same outfit.



This is the blog for the Code & Cognition lab, directed by professor Amy J. Ko, Ph.D. at the University of Washington. Here we reflect on our individual and collective struggle to understand computing and harness it for justice. See our work at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Amy J. Ko

Professor of programming + learning + design + justice at the University of Washington Information School. Trans; she/her. #BlackLivesMatter.