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Miss Conduct

Advice: How do I find out if an employer welcomes transgender job candidates?

Plus, the protocol for opening and holding doors for others in a vestibule.

This column is from the 2019 Top Places to Work issue. Visit BostonGlobe.com on Thursday evening when we’ll reveal the 125 companies with the happiest employees.

A friend posted recently about jobs in her workplace that would suit my qualifications. I recently came out as trans and want to work in a trans-friendly environment. My friend says she assumes her employer is, but doesn’t actually know — she’s cis and doesn’t know of any trans employees there. Is there any way to find out for sure?

O.M. / Boston

I sympathize with your desire to avoid the stress of an unfriendly interview. As I write this the Supreme Court is deciding on the employment rights of gay and trans people and — well. I sympathize deeply.


Your friend probably can’t find out more, but she could write to HR or the hiring manager about your qualifications, noting that you are trans and looking for an accepting workplace — “and I certainly hope we are one!” If the company isn’t, it won’t waste your time with an interview — and it will have gotten at least one heads-up that its workforce cares about equality.

My gym and office buildings are set up with double doors about 10 feet apart. When I’m coming in from one set and someone is coming out the other, the doors are too far apart to hold for each other. If the other person is clearly older or infirm, I hold the door. Sometimes I let go and walk through — never sure if I had the “right of way.” Is there guidance on what should happen?

B.U. / Boston

There isn’t! And if there were, it wouldn’t make any difference, because not enough people would know it. I think the primary pedestrian etiquette directive in Boston should be: “Keep the traffic moving.” Everyone has somewhere to be.


When another person grants you the right of way — unless taking it is against the law, safety, or common sense — take it and move on. Eye contact, a nod, a smile, or “thank you” is enough to paper over any abruptness. If you offer the other person the right of way and they decline, don’t stay there waving like you’re bringing in a jet. Defer to others who appear more encumbered than yourself. Don’t bother fussing over gender roles, and if anyone seems fussed, leave them to work that out for themselves.

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Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.