A lesson learned

Something new happened this week which I had not experienced first hand before. I was on the receiving end of harassment at work. One of my colleagues, a Director of the company to which I am a Consultant, who describes himself as being Mediterranean and a passionate man. He has been very “generous” in his time and in buying small gifts, despite being told “no please stop it”. I have tried consistently to refuse this attention.

For instance he would bring me in of sandwiches, then say “eat it now while it is fresh”…no I don’t think so I will eat when I want to etc. At first it was really good to feel accepted as a transwoman and I made excuses that he was just trying to make me comfortable and accepted. After a while I began to feel as if I was his project as he kept telling me that he didn’t like my nail colour, he could style my hair better (he used to be a hairdresser apparently). This became tedious and really irritating and I came to see it as controlling. I do not want this. His reply has been “but it makes me happy”.

I had been self-isolating for five months being really protected by my housemates to minimise the risk of my catching the dreaded virus. I was relying on strict protocols to go back to work…self – isolating, masks, social distancing etc. As soon as this person came into the office he walked straight up and cuddled me. I told him to stop and that we had to social distance to which he replied “I don’t care about all that bullshit…I am a Mediterranean and a passionate man” was the bullshit I received!

It all came to a head this week when I was talking to another member of staff and he came up behind me, hugged me and planted a kiss on my cheek. My immediate response was to say F*ck off. To say it was physically gross is an understatement; quite apart from the violation of my personal space, any thought about me and my boundaries. All of that is outside from the whole issue of social distancing and safety in relation to the coronavirus. It was all about him, totally, completely about him and his right to do what he wanted.

This was the first time I had ever experienced the male assumption that they could touch me, or kiss me if they felt they wanted to. That it was okay for him to behave like that. He seemed to have no idea that this might not be acceptable, that I might have any feelings or say in the matter. On occasion, he has given another female member of staff a hug, which she does not want either. 

He now knows it is unacceptable. He was phoned by a family member and told in no uncertain terms that he is not to go near me, invade my space cross boundaries or there will be consequences in that he will be reported to the police for harassment. I told the Managing Director if it happened again thy would not see me in the building again. All of the office supported my stand.

I think it has been resolved. However, I am quite shocked at this person’s attitude and his sense of entitlement.  A lesson learned.

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