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Transgender in the Workplace: Tips for Employees and Employers

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As an LGBT-owned business, Integrity is wholeheartedly dedicated to providing a diverse and fair working environment for all individuals. We've demonstrated over and over again that the keys to success for employer and employee alike are character, values and professional skills — not statistics on a piece of paper like gender or ethnicity.

 

In this post, we'll share our top tips for the transgender individual at work. While there is a trend towards greater acceptance of transgender rights in our society (and in the law courts), we still sadly see cases of harassment, prevention of use of the correct restroom, refusal to change names on employer documentation, denial of coverage for medically necessary procedures, etc.

 

The consequences of these actions may be more far-reaching than damages to one person. Companies who get a reputation for hostility to LGBT workers will alienate not just this group from their talent hiring options, but also the much larger pool of people who expect their employer to uphold principles of equal opportunity.

 

Smart businesses are taking steps to ensure that transgender employees are welcomed and protected from discrimination just like any other minority.

 

Get anti-discrimination/harassment policies in writing.

  • Update your employee handbook by adding transgender language to the section on discrimination
  • Update your sexual harassment training materials, scripts and/or videos

 

Keep your eye out for harassment.

Even if major discriminatory actions — such as denial of employment or promotion — are covered in your policy, there are also subtler behaviors that managers must be alert for.

  • Co-workers refusing to use the individual's "new" name or pronoun
  • Leaving him/her/them out of team activities
  • Objections on religious grounds (LGBT workers are legally protected from this)

 

Which restroom?

This is the biggest hot button you're likely to encounter. The most common solutions are:

  • One restroom designated gender-neutral, if the business has enough restrooms for that to be feasible
  • Individuals use the restroom of the gender they identify with

 

The individual does the coming out.

Transgender employees should decide when and how to communicate this information to co-workers: face-to-face or by email, in private conversations or to the whole team at once. It is not the supervisor's or HR's place to "out" them without their permission.

 

Make a plan for transitioners.

What will you do if someone already in your employ decides to transition? Nail down procedures for:

  • Leave benefits
  • Name change
  • Designated point person to manage the process

 

Many studies have shown that the diverse workplace is more innovative, productive and profitable than the homogenous one. With a little care and consideration, any business can achieve this goal — and reap the rewards.

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