He Said, She Said: Tired of coworker’s current pop culture obsession Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 April 2015
By Shaun and Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
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My co-worker’s obsession with Bruce Jenner is driving me crazy.  I have worked with this person for about two years, and he has consistently dropped hints here and there about his views concerning transsexuals (He was all for locking up Bradley Manning, at first, but became very sympathetic once Bradley became “Chelsea,” for example).  However, for the past month, I have had to hear about his fascination with Bruce Jenner on a daily basis. He goes on and on about how “brave” Bruce Jenner is, and about how transsexuals are persecuted and misunderstood.

How do I tell my co-worker that I don’t want to talk about Bruce Jenner or transsexuals without being labeled an “uncaring bigot” and having to take a trip to Equal Opportunity?  I just want to do my job.

HE SAID:  It sounds to me like your coworker is testing the waters with his friends and coworkers about something that they are afraid to come straight out and address … just my initial take, I could be completely off base.  

If he senses that you or others around him are not open minded enough to listen to the subtleties of what he means by addressing the bravery of others who can come out as it were, he will never feel comfortable doing so himself.

It may not even be about a transgender issue, it may be something completely different, but these are similar enough for him to gauge your reaction.  People need to feel safe in their work environment — just as you have expressed your desire not to be bombarded with these conversations, it very well may be that he fears a daily barrage of snide comments when he stops coming to work as Dave and starts coming to work as Debby.  

Remember, the world does not conform to how you would like to see it and everyone needs to have his or her concerns belayed.  At the end of the day, if he is testing the water, what are you trying to tell him?  Don’t let your version of reality blind you to the version other people live in.  

Good luck, I hope you can accept people for who they are, or you will be a very bitter person by the time you die; and as bitter as you may be, you will not have changed anyone else.  

SHE SAID:  I don’t think telling him that you are not interested in discussing transvestites should label you as an “uncaring bigot.”  

After two years, I can’t think of one topic I would want to talk about incessantly, unless it was work related. Tell this person you are really not interested in this ongoing discussion.  

Be open and honest. Be tactful. Say it in a way that you would want to hear it. Be respectful. Once you reach an understanding, reminding them of it should be easier, if the need arises.   

(Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 May 2015 )