Wednesday, January 31
I can't believe I forgot to mention this
A couple of weeks ago I was in a meeting and a completely gender neutral person walked in. I was busy paying attention to someone's presentation so I didn't think much of him-or-is-it-her.
It was more of a low grade curiosity. Eventually, a co-worker said "Oh, has everyone met my new intern?" and gestured towards him-or-is-it-her. Relived, I though "Oh good, I'll get a name. That should help." No such luck. My coworker went on to say "I'd like everyone to meet PJ." Ok, that doesn't help. Frankly, I didn't care if PJ was a very feminine man or an entirely androgynous female. I just didn't want to offend him-or-is-it-her in any way.
Eventually, I couldn't take it anymore. I cornered my co-worker (PJ's boss) and explained that, while I didn't want to be rude, I had to know if PJ was male or female. He laughed and said "I know. You're not the first to ask. PJ is a guy. I had to ask him myself. I asked if he preferred to be referred to as he or she and he just laughed and said 'Whatever.' It took me a while to get it out of him"
I've since seen PJ in the halls and I always call a out a cheerful "Hello." I'm sure people always act awkwardly around him and I don't want to be one of them. Once I knew PJ was a man it seemed obvious that he was. At this point, I don't think much of his gender, well, not until today.
This evening, another co-worker, while walking down the hall, said "Ok, we need to talk." To which I replied "What did I do now?". She said "I walked in the ladies room and PJ was in there." She was obviously upset about PJ's presence in the ladies room. I immediately thought to myself "Hmm, I don't know if that would bother me or not. PJ is clearly not interested in woman so I guess it doesn't matter which bathroom he uses." She then said "I'm in there trying to have a lady tinkle and there's PJ. He threw me off my game!"
Ultimately, I told her that if it really bothered her she'd have to mention it to HR. She doesn't want to cause any trouble but is sincerely freaked out by a guy in the ladies room.
My favorite part of this whole thing is contemplating how my big, fat, corporate company will handle this. They'll want to be sensitive and PC but they're sort of back against a wall on this one. I feel bad for PJ but I suppose he goes through this all the time and is probably used to it. It should be interesting to see how HR handles this one. Welcome to the 21st century, I guess, huh?
Posted by Lucy at 7:14 PM