Wedding Woes

Don't follow up. That is overstepping.

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. 

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Re: Don't follow up. That is overstepping.

  • Do nothing, say nothing. If they want your help, allyship, or friendship they will seek you out. They obviously feel they can disclose their personal life to you, but that doesn’t mean they want to do that with the entire company. Everything is in their court and wait for them if/when they ever want to do anything more. 
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    No no no no no no no. Full stop. 

  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Wait - follow up WHY?

  • There is no need for you to follow up on this. Let co-worker decide for themselves if they want or need to discuss it with you further. Just continue to be friendly and respectful, and they'll know that they can come to you with a problem or concern if it becomes necessary.
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I mean, at least they were introspective enough to recognize that offering to help them come out at work would have been over the line. 

  • levioosa said:
    I mean, at least they were introspective enough to recognize that offering to help them come out at work would have been over the line. 
    True!  I realize their question comes from a good place and a desire to be helpful/supportive.  But it would clearly not be appropriate and I'm glad they thought twice about it.
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  • I think it's okay for LW to, in a private moment, tell co-worker, thank you for sharing that with me and please let me know if you ever need any support.  I also think it's okay for LW to confirm with co-worker that CW wants to continue to be addressed by the male name/pronouns at work.  If LW wanted to be friends with CW before, fine, but wanting to be friends with CW now b/c they know CW is trans or offering help with anything transition related, treads into a bit of icky not-your-place territory for me.

    This is an opening salvo from CW, to see how LW reacts.  CW might be doing it, to see about making the first steps of coming out at work.  Or CW might just need an ally at work that they feel safe speaking to, especially with LW being in an HR related position.  I do think LW should take a moment to recognize the matter with CW and then let CW guide the consequences of it.
  • I suspect LW would hurt more than help right now...  Stay in your lane LW and OUT of it!
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