“The world told me I was a boy. They wrapped me in a blue blanket and I thought that was what I was. And it didn’t fit.”

Danielle Skysdottir thought she had her life figured out. Growing up, she always loved computer programming. She graduated from college with a degree in computer science and was hired at Amazon.

Danielle Skysdottir sits at her desk in a cubicle at Amazon's Seattle headquarters. She has blond hair and is wearing a T-shirt and flannel shirt. She's using a computer mouse with her right hand and typing on a split ergonomic keyboard with her left hand.
Photo by JORDAN STEAD
Software engineer Danielle Skysdottir at work.
Eight clear objects shaped liked jigsaw puzzle pieces are stacked in two rows in Danielle Skysdottir's workspace. They list U.S. Patent numbers and the dates they were issued to Skysdottir as well as her pending patent applications.
Photo by JORDAN STEAD
These puzzle pieces are mementos of the three patents issued to Danielle Skysdottir as well as five patents currently pending.
An earth-tone canvas messenger bag sits atop a padded surface. In the lower left section of the bag's flap, there is a patch of a flag with five horizontal stripes: white in the center, sandwiched by pink, with light blue at the top and bottom. This is the Transgender Pride Flag.
Photo by JORDAN STEAD / Amazon
Danielle Skysdottir's bag with a patch of the Transgender Pride Flag.
Danielle Skysdottir looks to the left of the image toward a whiteboard. She holds a dry-erase marker. She has a broad smile on her face. On the right side of the image, a colleague with glasses and a long ponytail looks at what Skysdottir wrote on the board and interacts with her.
Photo by JORDAN STEAD / Amazon
Software engineer Danielle Skysdottir collaborates with one of her Amazon colleagues.
Danielle Skysdottir in an office space with cubicles in the background. She has long blond hair and wears a T-shirt, a flannel shirt, and a necklace with a pendant.
Photo by JORDAN STEAD / Amazon
Portrait of software engineer Danielle Skysdottir in her team's work area.

She thought she knew who she was, but then discovered she didn’t.

“I was living my life weighed down by the obligations of a gender that wasn’t mine.”

After much soul-searching and professional support, Skysdottir came to the realization that she was transgender and ultimately decided to transition.

“The normal model of transitioning is you disappear from your old life and appear in a new life and leave no traces as to who you were. And that seemed incredibly uncomfortable and not really necessary,” Skysdottir said.

Working at Amazon, she took comfort in the fact she wasn’t alone. She found a supportive network in glamazon, an affinity group and global organization that brings together Amazon’s LGBTQ community. “From what I’ve heard, Amazon is one of the best places in America, in the world, to be LGBTQ,” said Skysdottir. “It’s accepting, it’s open.”

She recalled the day she came out to her team at Amazon in 2016: “I called a meeting, sat down, and told my story. I said, ‘So I’m trans, I’m going through some changes, I’m making steps down this journey of self-discovery.’ And I invited my team to join me, and they did,” said Skysdottir. “I’ve had great conversations with people who wanted to understand me and my experiences. And having that attitude is just the norm here. That’s an incredibly safe place to work from.”

“Being out at work has been incredible. It’s freeing. I can be me.”
Amazon software engineer Danielle Skysdottir

Transgender people across the globe face personal and professional risks in coming out, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Relationships can permanently change, many face harassment, discrimination, or violence, and some lose their jobs.

Skysdottir continues to be a voice for transgender issues in her board position with glamazon, working to make transgender awareness and understanding more commonplace. Amazon introduced a new collection of resources in 2017 to help transgender colleagues transition in the workplace and empower their teams with important information and tools to support them.

“Being out at work has been incredible. It’s freeing. I can be me,” she said. “I can be not just the best of me, I can be all of me.”

Danielle Skysdottir stands among leafy green trees. She has long blond hair and wears a T-shirt, a flannel shirt, and jeans.
Danielle Skysdottir on a hike through the woods in Seattle.
Photo by JORDAN STEAD / Amazon

Amazon’s support for the LGBTQ community

  • glamazon helps make Amazon a great place to work by identifying opportunities to educate and inform employees about LGBTQ issues and opportunities. The affinity group makes Amazon more visible within the LGBTQ community-at-large by sponsoring Pride parades around the globe, connecting with NGOs, and creating projects like the Alexa Pride Skill.
  • Amazon’s gender transition benefits are unlimited. Benefits are covered for medically necessary services based on the Standards of Care published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). glamazon played an active role in developing these benefits and the resources that accompany them.
  • Amazon received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index for 2017, a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. Amazon also launched a collection of resources to help transgender colleagues transition in the workplace, and empower their teams and managers with information and tools to support them.