Salon Leader, Oscar, has been part of the PetSmart pack for about seven years now. He took the time to share his story of Belonging with us, check it out below!
The Belonging Program’s “I Belong” Series harnesses the power of empathy through storytelling. This series is intended to give associates a greater sense of understanding, a bridge to gain new perspective, and a way to build connection to each other. To learn more about the “I Belong” Series or to submit your stories, please visit our new Belonging Fetch Page.
Meet Oscar (he/him)
Hi, I’m Oscar. I’ve been with PetSmart for seven years, presently as a Salon Leader at Store #2375 in New Orleans, LA. I haven’t always been Oscar. About a year and a half ago, I began my gender transition. For me, it was something that I didn’t want to keep hiding. I know representation matters, and the weight of not living as my true self was beginning to take a toll on my mental health. At first, I was worried if my co-workers and pet parents would accept me. I struggled with anxieties and fears about my gender transition but knew I had to live as my authentic self. The support I’ve received from my PetSmart colleagues has humbled me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It has given me confidence and a chance to let go of some of my fears and allow people to surprise me.
When I announced that I would be transitioning, my store leader immediately ordered me smocks with my new name, Oscar. To support me and reduce the additional stress I was feeling, he spoke to my colleagues and celebrated my pronouns (he/him). My salon associates didn’t skip a beat – they welcomed me with open arms. My District Academy Trainer and District Leader showed me support and encouragement and for them, learning my new name and pronouns seemed like second nature.
Beyond my immediate team, the benefits we have at PetSmart have allowed this transition to be possible. My health insurance covered the medications and surgeries that I needed. This is often a struggle for members of the transgender community, and it is not something that I took lightly. Seeing “Non-Binary” in our application process and covering pronouns in our Code of Ethics & Integrity has made me feel heard and affirms my growth, both personally and professionally.
I feel lucky to work for a company that upholds and values inclusion and belonging at all levels of the business. I’ve encouraged friends to apply at PetSmart, knowing that this is a safe and supportive employer and “the trans thing won’t be an issue.”