Several weeks ago, Jon found himself caught in a difficult situation. His work had just brought a new coworker on board, a cisgender man (a term used to describe individuals whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth) who seemed eager to learn and adapt. But this new recruit, with his curiosity and lack of social boundaries, soon became a source of discomfort for Jon.
An Innocent Mistake
On one of the newcomer’s first days, he referred to Jon as ‘she.’ Realizing this was likely due to his pronoun pin having fallen off, Jon decided to kindly correct him.
Correcting Pronouns at Work
He explained that he identified as ‘he’ or ‘they,’ intending to eliminate any future confusion. Jon figured this innocent mistake could be put behind them, allowing a professional relationship to flourish without any more misunderstandings about his identity.
However, things took a different turn. The newcomer started prodding Jon with questions. They weren’t just the average getting-to-know-you queries, but intrusive ones, diving into the private realms of Jon’s life.
“How Old Are You?”
“How old are you?” the man asked, and Jon, assuming it to be an innocent question, obliged.
Nosy Intrusions Into Jon’s Life
Then came “Are you on hormones?” and “How old were you when you started hormones?” Jon was taken aback but still answered the questions, giving the man the benefit of the doubt.
Crossing the Line
But then came, “Are your parents accepting?” and “What bathroom do you use?” The man’s nosiness was beginning to cross the line, making the workplace uncomfortable for Jon.
A Distasteful Joke
A few days later, in the middle of a late-night shift, the new coworker asked if he could share a rude joke. Jon agreed, being a good sport and having no objection to humor, even of a slightly raunchy kind.
But he didn’t expect a joke at the expense of the transgender community!
A Joke at Jon’s Expense
The joke, vaguely revolving around a “trans sandwich,” left Jon feeling objectified and repulsed. It was a crude mockery of Jon’s identity, something he could not let slide.
The Damage Had Already Been Done
Jon confronted the man, explaining that he didn’t appreciate such distasteful humor about his community. The coworker offered an apology, but the damage had already been done.
The Final Straw
The incidents didn’t stop there. Just when Jon thought the man might have learned his lesson, he proved him wrong again.
One day, as Jon was heading out for a break, the coworker grabbed him and said, “I thought of some new pronouns for you. Young/ster!” This was too much.
Dealing With a Coworker’s Obsession
The relentless obsession with his transgender identity was driving Jon to the edge of his patience.
Seeking Friendship or Patronizing?
He couldn’t decipher if the man was trying to bond with him or attempting a strange, offbeat way to make friends. Jon wanted this man to recognize him as just another man, not constantly reducing him to his trans identity.
Frustration and Exhaustion
It wasn’t that Jon wasn’t proud of being transgender; quite the opposite. But the constant fixation on this aspect of his identity was beginning to frustrate him.
Jon’s Battle for Respect at Work
Further worsening the issue, the coworker had taken to treating Jon as if he was a helpless damsel in distress, always in need of assistance, bossing him around with unnecessary orders, and generally being rude.
Feeling Disrespected and Patronized
The whole situation was increasingly irksome, leaving Jon feeling disrespected and patronized.
Navigating a Troublesome Relationship
Exhausted and exasperated, Jon found himself at the end of his tether. He had hoped that his relationship with this new coworker could be a simple, professional one. Instead, it was turning into a battle for basic respect and appropriate boundaries. The struggle, it seemed, was far from over.
The Reddit community rallied around Jon, offering sympathy and advice for his awkward situation. One user suggested, “This is sexual harassment and totally inappropriate workplace (or any place) behavior. Report it to HR and make sure this stops; you don’t deserve any of this.”
A Community of Empathy
Another user told Jon, “This is all really inappropriate of him, and along with reporting the sexual harassment, I’d recommend you completely ignore him as much as possible.”
“Asking genuine questions is fine, but he is obviously not doing that; plus, topics relating to identity really don’t have a place in the workplace, to begin with. Sorry this is happening to you.”
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