Transgender individuals often face stigma, discrimination, and challenges to navigate their identities, especially in a workplace setting. These challenges impact job satisfaction and emotional well-being. This handbook outlines strategies to protect, support, and stand up for transgender colleagues and the community.
According to interviews and surveys of over 1,000 transgender individuals, four key areas have emerged to help cultivate a more inclusive workplace:
(1) establishing basic signs of transgender inclusivity like bathroom use, dress codes, and pronouns;
(2) providing effective support for gender transitions;
(3) implementing transgender-specific diversity training; and
(4) introducing interventions to build resiliency.
Key Areas for a More Inclusive Workplace:
- Anti-Discrimination Policy: The first step is to have an appropriate policy in place explicitly stating gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression are prohibited grounds for discrimination. Constant monitoring of inclusion efforts is essential to maintain these anti-discrimination policies along with training efforts. The policy must also emphasize on gender-neutral dress code, allowing transgender individuals to dress as per their gender identity/expression.
- Adopt Basic Trans-Inclusive Policies: We all have a basic need to belong and experience negative emotions when we detect disapproval or rejection. Thus, inclusive policies and practices—such as those related to bathroom access, gender-neutral dress codes, and pronoun and name usage—send vital messages to trans employees about their value as organizational members.
- Trans-Hiring Efforts: Initiate and adopt hiring mechanisms to attract and hire trans individuals. We must advertise as an equal opportunity employer in the job postings along with conscious efforts to avoid gendered language like he/she. To expand outreach, we should establish connections with community groups supporting transgender individuals to show support and allyship for the community.
- Pronoun and name usage: It’s important to pay serious attention to correct names and pronouns. Misgendering of trans employees, whether intentional or unintentional, is relatively common at work. Using the right pronouns and names on a regular basis can be more meaningful than one might think.
- Sensitization: Programs to educate and create awareness around gender inclusiveness, immersion in the workplace, and acceptance for the inherent personality of transgender individuals must be carried out. It’s important to be mindful of topics and questions that may be uncomfortable.
- Restroom Infrastructure: Establishing gender-neutral bathrooms or encouraging trans employees to use facilities aligned with their gender identity sends a powerful message of value and inclusivity. Diversity training is crucial in educating all employees about the significance of acceptance and hospitality when sharing restroom spaces with transgender co-workers.
- Health Insurance and Medical Benefits: Providing transgender-inclusive insurance coverage for gender affirmation surgeries, hormone therapy, and cosmetic procedures
- Support /Ally Groups within the Organisation: Creating support groups to help trans employees transition into the organization will go a long way ahead. Stay informed and updated, and get the right training required before you become an ally.
- Creating a supportive work environment: Leaders and managers must proactively cultivate a supportive work environment. Prevent any discrimination against individuals who may be ostracized or pressured by peers to suppress their identities. Create an environment where everyone is treated equally with a zero-tolerance policy to any form of discrimination.
Here’s how you can be an amazing ally for your trans and gender-diverse co-workers:
- Step up against discrimination and don’t tolerate disrespect
- Use gender-neutral language and educate those around you
- Respect a person’s pronouns and when in doubt ask.
- Listen and learn about the struggles and challenges of transgender individuals with an open mind.
- Don’t ask intrusive questions that make anyone feel uncomfortable.
- Never make any assumptions based on appearances.
- Respect feelings, privacy and transition processes.
Here’s a digital information and resource platform for all trans and gender-diverse people and for allies and supporters. This toolkit has all the information that many of us so desperately need
Trans employees’ experience in the Indian workplace is still a reflection of the widely-held negative beliefs. It is the need of the hour to put extra effort to better accommodate them and remind them of the deeply constructive power inclusion holds to make positive change.