Transitioning is a complicated process for anyone. Coming out trans at work can be even more difficult because you have to navigate your feelings about gender identity and expression and how those issues affect your colleagues and coworkers. There’s no one way to support someone going through their transition, but here are some ways that you can be helpful:
If your employee has come out as transgender, don’t assume they’re going to be fired. Federal law protects them from discrimination based on their gender identity and also prohibits discrimination against people who are perceived to be transgender.
This can include things like:
- Not hiring or refusing to promote individual who you presume to be transgender.
- Terminating an employee because they are perceived as being transgender or transitioning.
- Denying a promotion or pay raise because the employee is considered too feminine or masculine for their gender assigned at birth.
It’s essential to ask your employee how they want to be referred to. This might include using their preferred name and pronouns and how they would like to be introduced to new people or referred to in meetings and emails.
When asking these questions, it is also helpful for you to ask what the person prefers in terms of gender-neutral language.
- Use the last name they prefer, not their first.
- If you are unsure which pronoun to use, ask them what they prefer.
- Use the pronoun that is consistent with their gender identity. For example, if someone who was assigned female at birth transitions to male and wished to be referred to as “he,” use “he” as opposed to “she.”
- Avoid gendered terms like “sir” or “ma’am” when addressing your employee; instead, address them by their name (first or last) or avoid using pronouns altogether (e.g., “Hey [name]!”).
Don’t make it a big deal if a transgender person is beginning the transition process. Never treat them any differently than you did before they transitioned. Do not look at or treat them differently because they have transitioned.
They should not feel like they need to explain themselves or justify their identity to anyone at work, especially if they are going through this process privately and only want some support from their coworkers.
Most important of all is to do the planning. Intuit experts say, “Coming out as trans is never a linear process, and is different for everyone. This makes close coordination with your company’s HR team critical. Ask if there is an HR partner who has had experience working with trans employees. “
The most important thing you can do is listen to and respect their needs as they figure things out for themselves. Ask them what name, pronouns, and title they prefer to be referred to by others in the office. Help them by changing your system so that people can choose their gender-neutral bathroom or update their information on all of your company’s internal databases.
It’s important to remember that millions of people identify as transgender and nonbinary. Your job as an ally is to create an inclusive space where they can feel confident in themselves at work. If you follow these tips and tips given, your employees will thank you for helping them through their transition!