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There’s More to Gender Than “Man” and “Woman”

Mary Ramirez Community Leader May 28, 2019

Sharing a podcast I listened to on the problem with the gender binary at work, and how to support our trans and non-binary colleagues. Interesting listen.

https://hbr.org/podcast/2019/05/theres-more-to-gender-than-man-and-woman

2 comments

That was a fascinating listen! Thanks for posting this. I was happy to learn I haven't done anything heinous, though I did once mis-gender a friend who I knew pretty well as a woman before she transitioned. I even took care of her during her first surgery, which is when I accidentally misgendered him. I apologized and moved on.

Some of the suggestions would be hard for me (dressing "butch" sometimes and dressing super femme sometimes). I can barely brush my hair before work, so personally normalizing non-binary gender presentation is out of my capability. Heck, what I wear often depends on what is clean!

The podcast gave me lots to think about and do. For example, I don't know if my company has a gender transition policy. I'll ask. The trans woman being interviewed said 50% of Generation Z is gender non-binary or gender fluid, so we will undoubtedly be seeing a huge cultural adjustment (which I see as a positive thing). 

From the "I don't get it" camp, how much of a role does and should gender have in most workplaces anyway?

Our office shares 3 toilets with other businesses. There is a urinal and stall in the men's one. Both the women's and unisex toilets have sanitary bins. No-one really cares what toilet someone else uses as long as they don't make a mess.

Individuals are greeted, talked to, and talked about using their preferred name (and pronouns).

Maybe I have been lucky, but in workplaces I have been in there is often more of a parent/non-parent divide than any gender divide.

Like Karen O'Keefe likes this

You are lucky. I worked for a Government contractor at a military base. There was so much gay-bashing going on, I spoke up and defended gay people in general. I was told there were no gay people at our company, in our workgroup or on the base. I knew many gay people in our midst. One friend had been talked to about his "peculiar" behavior. He was flamboyantly gay, but everyone liked him, so they just assumed he couldn't be gay and was just weird. I told him to tell the boss he is English. That got them off his back.

Morons!

Like Kat Warner _TechTime_ likes this

Sadly cultural shift often takes time so your suggested workaround pleases me. It is not the ideal solution but it helped your friend get on with his day in a more pleasant atmosphere.

It's amazing the excuses and mental gymnastics someone will do for someone they find likeable and/or know personally.

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