I work at a small company in a progressive coastal city. At a company party recently, I was chatting with a co-worker and we were a few drinks in, discussing how much we love the company. My co-worker at one point deliberately said, “As a trans woman, I can say that I feel safe at this company.” I smiled and nodded thoughtfully, and the conversation went on. My co-worker isn’t out at work, presents as male, and uses a male name. Because my work sometimes involves HR, I’d previously helped them with a matter I suspected was related, so my co-worker knows I have information that suggests they’re trans.
Employees trust me with their sensitive medical, financial, and personal information, and I handle all of it with respect and confidentiality. I also feel a great deal of support for this co-worker; they’re one of my favorite people to work with. We don’t interact often, but we get along really well. Can I follow up? Should I? And if so, how? Saying “I totally support your transition and felt honored you felt comfortable telling me about it—want to come out at work? I can help! Let’s be friends” feels invasive and creepy. I’m in a management role, so I feel like natural ways to make friends, like inviting them to coffee, will not work in this situation. I’m a cis woman, if that’s relevant. I really just want to make sure they know I’m available and that I have their back.