What does It mean to be transgender at work?

Being transgender means that the gender which you identify as does not align with the sex you were assigned at birth. For many people, the sex they are assigned at birth corresponds to how they later present, feel and identify; however, for transgender people, this is not the case.

Somebody may have been assigned female at birth due to physical and biological appearances, but actually, they identify as a man as their gender. Transgender people may choose to go through a gender transition, in which they begin to present and live as the gender they feel they are, not the one assumed to them based on their sex.

Being transgender or going through a period of gender transitioning can be very challenging in the workplace. Your appearance may start to change, you could face ignorance and a lack of education, and it may also be an intensely emotional experience for you.

We are here to remind you that it is your legal right to express yourself and live in a way that genuinely reflects who you are and how you feel. Gender reassignment is classed as a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act, which means you are protected against mistreatment and discrimination by the law.

Tips for transgender employees

Here are some things to remember when deciding to discuss being transgender at work and some ways to access the support you might need.

Speak to people that you trust

It’s essential that you have somebody with who you can share your experiences at work and who you can trust. This might be a colleague or a manager, somebody who you can talk to before sharing with a larger group of people. They will help you when you need people to start calling you by a different name or using different pronouns.

Think ahead

Think ahead and work out a plan for the next couple of months. Will you need any time off? Or will you need a change to your working schedule when you recover from surgery? Will you need to change your name formally with your employer? The more planning you do, the easier the process will be at the time.

Decide how much you want to share

It can be a good idea to decide how much you feel comfortable sharing with others about your transitioning or gender identity. Perhaps you transitioned a long time ago and didn’t want to share details of it anymore, or perhaps you feel comfortable changing your pronouns, but you don’t want to discuss any hormonal treatments or surgery. How much you share is entirely your choice.

Mental health support

Going through a gender transition while working or living as a transgender person in an unwelcoming working environment can be extremely mentally challenging. You might want to look into what mental health support is available to ease some of this burden. You can see your GP about free mental health support on the NHS or speak to your employer about how they can help.

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