How to Fully Support Transgender Employees

Written by Calvin
Last updated March 20, 2023

Transgender employees can have a difficult time at work, especially in comparison to cisgender employees. Transitioning at work, managing gender identity and dealing with discrimination are all common issues dealt with by this group.

In fact, transgender employees face a high frequency of discrimination in the workplace and often have to deal with difficult situations. This is typically due to other members of staff’s prejudice and bias. Unfortunately, sometimes this forces trans people out of jobs they love and even entire industries they want to work in.

Due to this context, it is vital that employers know how to fully support their transgender employees in the workplace. Doing so can ensure their safety and happiness while at work, which overall will increase well-being and productivity in the work environment too. A win-win situation for everyone involved. 

In this blog, we are going to discuss five key ways in which employers can support their transgender employees. Starting with…

1. Establish Pronoun Visibility Early 

Pronoun usage in the workplace is very important for transgender employees. When pronouns are used visibly at work, it makes it easier for trans people to tell other people what gender they identify as and how they would like to be referred to. When pronouns are introduced early in someone’s working life, ideally in the recruiting and hiring stages, then it is far less likely that mistakes and deadnaming will take place. 

While not always intentional, pronoun misuse and deadnaming can be very harmful for trans people at work. Particularly so if this is a repeat occurrence. Not being referred to in the way you want can damage self-esteem and general mental well-being. When pronouns are used and used visibly, such as in name badges, email signatures, and bios, it is much easier for trans people to avoid such uncomfortable occurrences. 

We have more information and guidance on the use of pronouns at work for you to check out via the link.

2. Be Clear about Discrimination Policies

Unfortunately, you cannot stop all instances of discrimination occurring within your workplace. Even when you create an inclusive atmosphere, actively include diverse members of staff and try your best to make employees feel safe, you are not in control of the actions of others and unfortunate scenarios of colleague discrimination can and do take place against transgender employees. 

The best thing that you can do as an employer is to be clear about what discrimination policies you have in place and how they will be implemented when needed. Be clear that interventions will take place and outline a no tolerance policy to workplace discrimination. It is best to liaise with an HR team to do this and make sure that everyone is on the same page with what policies exist and how they will be followed. 

You can’t totally prevent discrimination from happening, but you can deal with it appropriately and professionally when it does happen. 

3. Build an Inclusive Environment 

It is important to build an inclusive working environment for all your employees so that they can feel safe and comfortable at work. For transgender employees, this will include things like:

  • Encouraging expression of self via removal of strict dress codes or appearance expectations, e.g. hair styles
  • Celebrating diversity with events and social inclusion
  • Allowing trans and queer voices to be heard with internal campaigns, talks and groups
  • Having a physically accessible workspace with amenities such as gender neutral toilets, where feasible
  • Having rules and protocols around how language is used in the workplace, with an emphasis on speaking inclusively 

When transgender employees come to work and feel included by their peers and managers, it is much easier to feel safe and be productive. They can work to their best ability without the added stress of exclusion and potential discrimination. 

4. Run Awareness and Diversity Training 

Some people may not automatically know the best language to use around gender presentations and diversity and this may cause unintentional problems in the workplace. Some colleagues may feel discriminated against because of innocent mistakes by other colleagues. Of course, this is not always the case and discrimination should be dealt with firmly, as discussed above.

To counteract such issues, running awareness and diversity training within the workplace can really help all colleagues stay on the same page with how they can best communicate with and treat their transgender peers. Covering topics such as pronouns, identities, transitions, and so on can help everyone treat each other the best way possible. 

It is important that this training comes from a trans perspective so try and be as inclusive as possible with the actual running of said training. 

5. Handle Transition Journeys Appropriately 

Undergoing a transition in the workplace can be a very challenging thing to manage. It is important that employers deal with this in a sensitive and appropriate manner, being careful not to break any employee’s confidentiality and potentially “out” them before they are ready. 

The most successful approach to take is to be in consistent communication with your employees about what they want to happen. Liaising with an HR team again can be very beneficial here. It is key to follow your employee’s lead with names, labels, pronouns, and any kind of announcement. 

It is also a good idea to make sure your employee has all the mental health support they need during this time. Some companies may be able to provide their employees with free counselling support via their insurance. If not, it is a good idea to signpost to GPs, private counselling, and emergency helplines if necessary. 

How We Can Help 

Supporting transgender employees at work isn’t always easy but it is important. If you are an employer who would like to upskill in the areas of inclusion and diversity, you can do so with our support at Aspiring to Include

We have lots of guides for you to avail of, including how to recruit inclusively, how to monitor EDI figures, what staff training to engage with, and much more. With these guides and resources, you can learn how to be a more inclusive employer and how to fully reach your potential with diversity at work.

We also have key tools for you to use including our inclusive job board where you can inclusively post jobs to a diverse pool of candidates and a directory of diversity-positive employers through which you can advertise yourself to this same pool. 

Everyone deserves an inclusive employer. Help us build you up to the right level today.

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Last Updated: Wednesday February 22 2023