Dominique King Lean in with Love

Workplace may not be the place for gender conversations

Dominique King Lean in with LoveQ. After a conversation with my coworker over lunch, I was “called out” at a work event for being offensive. My coworker, a transwoman, told me that I invalidated their experience as a woman because I refuse to be called cisgender and think that women have a right to use whatever terms they want in reference to being a mother. I identify as a woman. In my eyes, my coworker is a woman living her own truth.

I don’t walk around saying she’s a transwoman; I just say she is a woman. I am at my wit’s end lately, feeling like I have to sacrifice my identity as a woman because it’s not in line with someone else’s beliefs. How am I expected to respect how she identifies, but it’s absurd for her to accept me? – Lashay

A. Lashay, the topic of proper terms regarding how people identify has been boiling for quite some time. Both sides of this argument come with legions of support. I can see your frustration through your writing.

I don’t want to jump into this conversation with blanket statements or create an opportunity for individuals to feel invalidated or attacked. Instead, I want to “call you in” on how you can respectfully and professionally co-exist with your coworker.

Keep it professional. It’s only private until it’s not.

I don’t know how you two found your way into such an in-depth and personal conversation. Perhaps false comfort led to a very delicate topic in an inappropriate space. Your lack of friendship outside of work and inability to find common ground during your lunch break left one of you offended to the point of publicly airing your private conversation.

Being in an environment with others for long hours can sometimes give a false sense of security about expressing ­personal views. A rule of thumb to remember is professional over personal.

If you cannot meet with each other to have a conversation with the hope of finding common ground, a meeting with a third party may be necessary.

Work disagreements that become open to other employees are draining and toxic. Without intervention, they may boil over into one of you feeling ostracized, quitting or being fired.

Reach out to your boss, HR or peer support to request a meeting. With a neutral party in the room, it may be easier to express your grievances and resolve how you can coexist best. This meeting will also be documented and act as a guide if either of you breaches the agreement or things escalate.

Accusations were made, feelings were hurt, and you may never be on good terms again. What you are trying to establish now are clear rules of engagement.

The deeper topic of your question is one that requires many more conversations and work – 500 words wouldn’t even scratch the surface.

Be well; you are worthy.

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Dominique King
Dominique King

Dominique King is a blogger who centers around marriage, family, fitness and personal growth. Her insightful and practical approach to advice gives everyday couples, parents and individuals a space to get answers to their questions.