What I Learned from a Cross-Dressing Man

In my office, we have a rather unusual person.  I don’t know much about him (I’m not sure if you refer to him as a him or a her?), but I see him in the Cafeteria every day or so.  He’s clearly a man, but he dresses in skirts, blouses, and women’s shoes.  Every day.  Nothing flashy or revealing, and he’s not particularly flamboyant, in fact, he seems a little on the quiet side, but it definitely gets your attention.  

I don’t know exactly how I feel about that.  I’m kind of a “live and let live” kind of person, and I’ve had many gay friends before, but a guy in a dress is a little out of my league. The thing is, my company is all about Diversity with a capital “D”, so I don’t dare do as much as say boo to this guy, or I could literally lose my job of 20 years in the blink of an eye.  Like most large businesses, we offer same-sex partner benefits, we specifically pursue business from GLBT people, and we sponsor Diversity groups for every minority under the sun.  It’s a large office with hundreds of people, so we have several visibly gay people and probably just as many who aren’t as noticeable.  (Note:  I never mention where I work on my blog.  It a well-known company and I just don’t need to be on their radar.  It’s my one nod to Internet privacy.)  


I’m not going to debate about whether homosexuality is right or wrong, or if gay marriage is a good thing or a bad thing, but the fact is, this is the world we live in and the sooner we find a way to deal with it, the better.  Diversity is the new buzzword and my company isn’t the only one that is going to live and die by it.  

I’ve had some talks with my 14-year-old son about the topic.  Naturally in Junior High and High School, these kids are horrified by anyone who appears even the slightest bit different, and any kid who is even suspected of being gay is treated horribly.  It’s ghastly and very unfair, but its sadly universal among kids this age.  But I’ve determined my son is not going to be one of them.  He was seriously bullied in Elementary school and he knows what that feels like, so he has a little more empathy than most.  

I explained to him that statistically speaking about 5%-10% of his classmates are going to end up being gay, maybe more and that he might as well start getting used to the idea.  I told him about the man at work, and what my situation is with regard to it and that this is likely to be even more widespread by the time he gets into the work force.  

I also explained what a rough life these kids are likely to have.  That they will likely be treated badly by other students, teachers, co-workers, neighbors, and maybe even their parents.  People of all ages can be pretty ignorant in a situation like that and there have been numerous cases where gays have literally been killed, or tormented into suicide, as has been in the news lately.  

That made him very thoughtful and between the two of us, we decided that regardless if he does or doesn’t want to be good friends with these folks, he would make a point of treating them kindly and respectfully and at least not adding to their troubles.  

I think a little tolerance is the key.  My thinking is that if someone isn’t sleeping with you, it really isn’t your business who they are sleeping with.  That’s a private matter and should remain so, if possible.  There are always going to be people who are different from you in many ways and the sooner we all learn to treat others respectfully, the better off everyone is going to be, and the more we can pitch in and accomplish together.  That’s the point of the Diversity lessons my company teaches.  Not only should you be tolerant of others, but they may bring ideas and perspective to the table that may strengthen the decision-making process.  It’s a learning curve, but hopefully we’ll all get there in time.  

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Comments

  1. Hey Adrian,

    I like it. Live and let live. Be kind, be respectful. YES!!! Thankfully my daughter has an amazing school and amazing friends. She is a XC and Track star, and that is what people worry about, not who she is dating. They want to know if she is going to bring home another award with all the other team mates for the school. Glad that you and your son are living by the respect rule that is awesome….. 🙂

  2. Tolerance is exactly what we need! Great post and wonderful attitude of acceptance and kindness!

    Stopping by from SITS,
    Tori
    http://torinelson.wordpress.com

  3. Beautifully said. It’s so important that we teach our children to be kind.

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