yes, I am supposed to be in the ladies restroom

I’m in Orlando right now at a Talent Management conference put on by the Society for Human Resource Management. There are about 1500 people, give or take, people that work in or near the human resources areas of their companies.

A thing in HR is diversity. I mean, it’s important. There are studies and articles and full on natural conferences devoted to the issue. Diversity is an amazing thing and the only thing that it can do is good. REALLY GOOD. 
The bummer is that HR professionals, as a whole from my experience, aren’t all that excited about it. There are always diversity specialists and folks that want to focus on inclusion. Those people are my favorites. It’s just not as prevalent as it should be right now. 

That’s why I’m annoyed right now. 

Here’s a picture of me and my grandma from a few years ago. Let’s first look at my grandma. She’s the most adorable thing in the world and the best ever. Not really the point of this post, but I just like everyone to know my grandma. 


Now let’s look at me. Short hair. Usually spikey. No makeup. Maybe some chapstick. Argyle. Sweater in neutral colors from Kohl’s or maybe Target. Jeans. Probably sneakers or other sensible shoes.

Side story: when I was younger, one of my grandmas once told me the boys were going to like my chest. (Don’t bother saying anything about how wrong that was because I will kick you.) Fast forward many years and while the boy thing didn’t pan out, OTHER THINGS CONTINUED GROWING. Point being: when you see me from the front or the side, I have things that females have. I have enough to share, if anyone wants to negotiate this. 

Back to this HR conference where HR people should have some elevated knowledge and awareness of those around them that may be diverse. Now picture me again right now: button up shirt, argyle vest, gray pants from the ladies department at Kohl’s and, as always, sensible shoes.

In the 1.5 days I’ve been at this conference, I’ve been called sir three times and had two people ask me if I’m the right restroom. I’m not counting the lady that I held the door for and watched her look at the sign on the door and looked back at me twice. 

Where are these people from? Have they never seen queer women? (Side note: if I’m stereotyping by physical appearance, I’m the only one that’s visably a lesbian.) Do they not have cable where they’ve watched one episode of the Ellen DeGeneres show? 

Two points to this post. 

  1. Do better, HR folks particularly at this conference, in recognizing diversity of all kind. I know it’s scary but we’re out there and you need to accept that and be nice about it. You’re different than me, but I open the door, pick up things you drop and say “please” and “thank you” to you.
  2. Tell me again why we don’t need gender neutral restrooms. I was born a female and still identify as one and yet I’m questioned about going into the right room to pee. 


  1. Max

    Honestly, I have seen you and you look like a woman to me. While I am saddened by the insensitivity and treatment you received, I am thrilled by your willingness to share your perspective.

  2. I’m sorry you had a crap experience at a HR conference. I’m a HR professional as well, and I’ve seen and heard similar stories from colleagues and friends.

    Unfortunately, the demographics at a HR conference are not much different from the population in general–some people are progressive, some middle-of-the-road, and others are clueless (to put it mildly).

    I hope this doesn’t spoil you on HR!

  3. Nah, nothing could ruin me on HR. I’d love to see those demographics change, but that won’t happen if there’s a stigma that only straight white ladies are accepted in the role.

  4. First and foremost, I’m sorry this happened. It sucks, there’s no other way to say it.

    Second, THANK YOU for sharing your experience. It will reach many, and hopefully inspire people to take your lead and start conversations that lead to change. You are absolutely right, we can do better!

    It honestly drives me a little crazy when HR is the reason we NEED HR.

    Whatever you do, keep kicking ass.
    We need more people like you in HR. People who see a problem and want to fix it. People who recognize when things can (and should) be better. People who aren’t afraid to LEAD change. People who wear sensible shoes!

    Again, thanks for sharing your experience. I hope the rest of the conference goes well.


  5. Amy Wurdock

    Ok, super serious post and very important point. But omg funny. Negotiating sharing of body parts might be my new favorite thing.

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