Recently, the workplace experiences of transgender employees were profiled by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz in the Chicago Tribune, along with ways that their respective companies did or didn't support their transition: How companies accommodate transgender employees — and their colleagues. The article notes:
Corporate America has recently made progress toward transgender-inclusive workplaces. Three-quarters of Fortune 500 companies have gender identity protections, according to the Human Rights Campaign's latest Corporate Equality Index, released in November, compared with just 3 percent when it started the report in 2002. Forty percent of employers have at least one plan that covers hormone replacement therapy; in 2002, it was zero.
But it's one thing to have policies. It's another to have a plan to address the nuances of a delicate journey many people struggle to understand.
If you haven't dealt with transgender employees at your workplace, it's a question of time. Is your workplace positioned to help a transgender employee in their transition? Are your policies and training programs in place? Are you familiar with issues that could potentially surface in your workforce as you accommodate a transgender worker? As the above article notes, it is better to have plans and policies in place in advance. We’ve gathered a library of materials that might help.
Employer resources for supporting transgender employees
Employment & Labor Insider: Transgender roadmap: 10 steps the EEOC thinks employers should take
Robin Shea offers ten sensible guidelines, first and foremost of which is including gender identity in your non-discrimination and no-harassment policies. As an employer, you need to make it clear that harassment will not be tolerated, whether the behavior comes from "employees, customers, agents, contractors, sub-contractors, clients," or anyone else. She also stresses the importance of training all employees, particularly managers and HR staff.
Department of Labor: Policies on Gender Identity: Rights and Responsibilities
Human Rights Campaign: Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace: Recommended Policies and Practices
Transgender Law Center: Model Transgender Employment Policy (PDF)
HR Web Cafe: Transgender in the Workplace
HR Web Cafe: Transgender discrimination
Resources for colleagues working with transgender people
Transgender Law Center: Tips for Working with Transgender Coworkers (PDF)
Offers key terms and several tips:
- Demonstrate respect
- Recognize the difference between your personal values and the community values of you workplace
- Respect your coworker’s confidentiality and privacy
- Don’t assume that your transgender coworkers know everything about all transgender issues
- Help coworkers who have having trouble with another employee;s transition
Harvard Business Review: What to Do When Your Colleague Comes Out as Transgender
UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates that there are 700,000 transgender Americans – a significant number, but much smaller than the 8 million gays, lesbians, and bisexuals living in the U.S., according to surveys.
- Unless you're already good friends, keep your reactions to a minimum
- Take your cues from your colleague
- Be mindful of the pronouns
- Relax about the bathroom
- Do research on your own