Sexual harassment: Women’s stories

We are expected to accept this behaviour as normal

I’m a 24-year-old transgender woman. I work as a waitress at a big hotel. Sometimes I work in the restaurant area and other times in the bar, serving guests with food and drinks. The work is fun – I get to meet people from all over the world and learn about places I’d like to visit one day.

When I started to transition four years ago, I received a lot of negative attention – and I still do. A lot of name-calling, mostly from men, but sometimes from women.

Some people think it’s okay to treat me and others like me this way. To call us names and make fun of us and abuse us. They laugh and joke among themselves without realising how their behaviour affects us. They don’t realise that this is sexual harassment – and that it’s not okay.

At the hotel, I prefer to work in the restaurant. Why? Because the guests treat me better. I’m very tense when I have to work at the bar because that means having to deal with drunk men.

I’ve been grabbed more than a few times and propositioned for sex when the bar is closing. I try to remain professional but sometimes the men get abusive. One time, a co-worker had to intervene, but nothing happened to the man.

When I brought it up with my supervisor, he said: ‘Oh, well, boys will be boys, you know.’ We are expected to accept this behaviour as normal. So as long as I want to keep my job, I have to keep my mouth shut. I don’t want to be the difficult one.

Sexual harassment is no joke. Transgender women like me face it almost every day and that makes our lives very difficult. We don’t have as many choices for work, so many of us keep quiet and put up with the harassment. But it’s not right and it must stop.