Career Advice

How To Support Transgender Employees

Many large, well-known companies, including Goldman Sachs and Barclays, have recently put considerable effort into making their offices more comfortable and accepting for gay and lesbian employees.

However, there is another group within the LGBT community that is often overlooked when employers consider how to make the workplace a more accepting environment – transgender individuals.

To ensure a truly diverse workplace that accommodates people from all backgrounds, it is crucial that no group is left behind when considering initiatives to promote an open, equal workplace. Workers from the transgender community are discriminated against on a regular basis, and the prejudice they encounter often forces them to leave their jobs and seek employment elsewhere.

Besides losing out on skilled workers, companies stand to also lose the goodwill of the public whenever an employee chooses to leave because of discrimination. The transgender community has recently been involved with several controversial news stories regarding discrimination, and it is important to show support for their rights, especially the right to fair and equal employment.

Here are some steps you can take to help transgender employees feel welcome and comfortable at the workplace:

Remove Misconceptions about Transgender Employees

Many people have plenty of misconceptions about what the word ‘transgender’ really means, and it is imperative that you eliminate these doubts in order to prevent unintended discrimination. To help your employees better understand the transgender community, you may need to set up special training programs.

  • Many people believe that transgenders are people who seek surgery in order to transition from their current gender (male or female) to another gender.
  • However, the term ‘transgender’ is an umbrella term and encompasses much more than this basic definition.
  • Transgender can also refer to someone whose gender identity, or perception of one’s own gender, differs from conventional notions of masculinity or femininity.
  • Some even consider ‘transgender’ to be a third gender, independent from male or female.
  • Even when it comes to surgery, some transgender individuals choose to leave their genitals intact while still operating on other body parts or taking medication to alter their hormonal balance.

Once employees have a better understanding of what the term ‘transgender’ means, it will become easier for them to accept these individuals and avoid unintentional discrimination.

Reform Your Restrooms

Some transgender individuals opting for a sex-change operation are advised by their doctors to spend at least a year living like the other gender. This could mean using a different restroom from the one they are traditionally meant to use.

Even with your employees properly educated in the nuances of the transgender community, it can be difficult for them to accept someone who appears to be of the opposite gender using the same restroom as them.

To solve this, you may have to create gender-neutral restrooms or simply teach your employees that individuals can use whichever restroom is appropriate for the gender that they identify with.

Build a Strong HR Team

A transgender employee wishing to come out regarding their gender or sexual identity needs people they can confide in. For this reason, you need a strong HR team that is able to connect with all employees, particularly those in this situation.

HR personnel must remember a few things when dealing with transgender employees:

  • If the employee wishes to keep this information confidential until the operation or until they decide to come out, the HR team must abide by this.
  • An employee may choose to tell their coworkers about their gender identity through various means – email, chat messages, or a public announcement. The HR team should support the employee in whatever decision they take.
  • HR needs to figure out the correct pronouns and potential new names that an employee would like to be addressed by.
  • The HR team must be vigilant about subtle discrimination from coworkers, such as the use of wrong names or pronouns, and take steps to address this.

If your company’s HR team is able to win the trust of the transgender community, the workplace will have already become a more welcoming environment for these individuals.

As a company, it is important to remember that diversity is a key factor in your growth, and that every individual has the right to employment regardless of age, sex, race, or any other distinguishing factor.

So, by making your office space a better place for transgender individuals, you are creating a better corporate environment, promoting diversity, and encouraging all your employees to do their best.