A man traveled the country with his coworker, not knowing he was transgender. When he made a joke, holding the door open and saying, “Ladies first,” he got angry and accused him of being insensitive.
A Job With Travel Perks
OP (Original Poster) had a coworker he had worked with for a few months. They traveled all over the country together, and he felt like they were becoming good friends.
OP said they shared hotel rooms and often banter back and forth as they got along well. In fact, the teasing is what would lead to the dilemma that OP found himself in.
One day, after finishing their work, OP and his coworker decided to walk to a nearby store. OP opened the door for his coworker, as he often did because he was taller and walked faster than most.
A Joke Among Friends
When OP opened the door, he said what many guys do to their friends: “Ladies first.” That’s when he saw that the demeanor of his coworker changed.
OP didn’t know that his coworker was transgender. He was, after all, 100% transitioned and looked like any other guy.
Causing Trouble by Accident
OP’s coworker had a change of demeanor instantly. He started looking sad and angry as soon as OP had said his joke, but he had no idea what had made them upset.
A Piece of Their Minds
The coworker didn’t say anything while they were shopping, but once they got to the car, he let OP know he was upset. He yelled at OP and told him he was being “insensitive” and that he “didn’t know their life.”
Shocked and Horrified
OP couldn’t believe it, and he had been so clueless that it hit him like a ton of bricks. He tried to apologize and console his friend, saying he had no idea that he was transgender.
The Damage Was Done
Despite his attempts to apologize, OP said that his coworker stopped being friendly. Even after days had passed, he still seemed angry with what he had said.
Trying to Do Right
OP had tried to correct his behavior, but it wasn’t affecting his colleague. Since they weren’t talking, OP still doesn’t know how to address his friend and what pronouns to use.
Understanding the Joke
He also pointed out that the joke wasn’t about s***** because it would’ve been the same if he had said, “Penguins first.” The entire point of the joke was calling their friend what they weren’t—something that guys do all the time.
What Redditors Have to Say
Redditors did try to assure OP that he hadn’t done anything terrible, but also mentioned that every transgender person had different standards and experiences.
One Redditor summed it up by saying, “Not the a**hole. How could you be the a**hole if you didn’t even know they were trans in the first place?”
Another chimed in, saying, “You’re not the a**hole if you would have done that to any of your other friends. You didn’t know his transition story. That’s not your fault, and you were treating him like you’d treat any friend.”
Part of the LGBTQ+ Community
Transgender Redditors also came to OP’s defense, but they were more understanding of his coworker’s reaction.
One said, “Transgender dude here. Not the a**hole. It’s a sensitive topic, and I can’t say I would react differently in that situation. I hope he can get the perspective he needs on the situation because s*** like this happens a lot. For some added context, I started passing about three months after beginning my medical transition. It took a couple of years for my brain to catch up with the physical and social changes, i.e., not being on the constant defense about misgendering, etc. Now, when it happens, I laugh it off, but it took a long while to get to that point.”
A non-transgender Redditor also chimed in about terminology, pointing out, “Maybe using lady as a derogatory term, even in lighthearted jest, is not the best approach. You weren’t targeting them with the statement, but calling a dude a lady isn’t really ever meant as a compliment. Not the a**hole.”
Ladies Chime In
Female Redditors were also quick to take OP’s side, citing that they, too, make the same types of jokes.
One user said, “I’m a lady and make the same joke when I hold the door for my husband. He tells me to f*** off. I slap his a**. Then we laugh and put away groceries.”
Do you think what OP said was mean-spirited or a simple joke between friends? How would you have reacted if you were OP or if you were the coworker?
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This post first appeared as He Unknowingly Called His Colleague a “Lady,” Although He’s A Trans Man. He Tried Apologizing, but His Coworker’s Furious, Screamed That He’s “Insensitive,” and Is Holding a Grudge! Was He a Jerk? on Quote Ambition.