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Transgender People at Work

In the films, Anything and Reassignment, Hollywood has been under attack for using cisender actors (non trans) but whose gender matches their ‘’assigned’’ sex at birth in transgender roles. Cisender = denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex; not transgender.

Members of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) have accused them both of contributing to what is known as the ‘trans-erasure’. What exactly is ‘trans erasure’? Well, it’s the tendency to ignore, deny or minimize the existence of transsexual/transgender people and or/transsexualism/transgenderism.

Research suggests that transgender people often resign from their positions because they fear discrimination. Having a supportive workplace can make a difference to the organisations ability to recruit and retrain trans women and men.

It can be really hard for an employee to approach their manager to tell them that they are intending to transition. If you have employee who is planning to transition or has transitioned there are a number of steps that you should take to ensure the workplace supports the employee.

One of the most important things an employer can do to support trans employees in the workplace is to provide visible support. A trans workplace policy should incorporate transition guidelines. These guidelines should be flexible enough to meet the particular needs of a transitioning employee, while specific enough to provide a consistent framework that eliminates confusion and mismanagement.

You may want to address issues like these.

  • Who is responsible for helping a transitioning employee manage their workplace transition?
  • What a transitioning employee can expect from management?
  • What are the employer’s expectations of transitioning employees and the existing LGBT employee group in facilitating a successful workplace transition?
  • What is the general procedure for implementing transition-related workplace changes, such as adjusting personnel and administrative records, as well as communication plans for co-workers and clients?
  • Have answers to frequently asked questions about matters such as dress codes and washroom use.

Employers should also update their employee orientation programs on discrimination and harassment to include gender identity and LGBT policies, and review all existing workplace policies to ensure they are gender-neutral. For example, a workplace dress code policy may appear neutral on its face, but have an adverse effect on transgender employees; it often takes minimal revision to transform such policies into gender-neutral ones.

A trans person should be given the right to select the facilities appropriate to the gender they present and identify with.

Records and employee information should be updated or changed. This includes photographs and historical information on personnel files or the company website. Relevant departments which hold employee information such as payroll must also be informed of the changes.

One of the best ways an employer can support an LGBT employee through transition is by communicating to other employees in the workplace. When an employee is transitioning, a message of support from senior management addressed to colleagues, and specifically those who work in direct contact with the transitioning employee, announcing the employee’s plan to transition, communicating its values and relevant policies promotes a diverse and harassment-free workplace and can set a positive tone about the transitioning employee.

Some employees may feel uncomfortable about their colleague’s transition. Address concerns through education and discussion.

Policies that are inclusive of transgender issues will demonstrate that the employer supports the transgender community. Employers should monitor transgender equality but take care to protect confidentiality.

We deal with the good, the bad and the ugly of HR. If you need help resolving transgender employee queries or any other HR issues, give us a call on 01908 262628.

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