All too often, transgender individuals face a real fear of losing their source of financial stability due to workplace discrimination. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, approximately one in four transgender employees have lost their job due to transphobia and bias. While the Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of trans workplace protections, many companies still find loopholes to exclude transgender workers in various forms, which ultimately contribute to the increasing rates of poverty and homelessness within the trans community. In spite of the struggles, there are ways in which both employers and employees can help create a more equal and inclusive environment for their transgender colleagues.
Educate yourself and others within your workplace.
When I was looking for a job, one of the things I dreaded the most was having to explain that I’m transgender at some point. Given that I haven’t legally changed my name yet and my ID still has my male presenting self, I felt fearful and uncomfortable. I worried that the hiring manager may look at me as a fraud or a “man in dress up” and change their mind about my value or my place within the company. While it may seem irrational, I’ve experienced constant ignorance in my personal life that’s left me wary of people’s mindset. Combining that with statistics and anecdotes from others in the community, I was genuinely scared.
However, education is key to solving ignorance from the bottom up. There are myriad resources, documentaries, and videos to watch and share with your employees to better spread understanding. Many people still see transgender individuals in the light of the Jerry Springer Show or Caitlyn Jenner, but we come in all forms of gender expression and identities. We are more than “glow-ups” and makeovers, but individuals with complexities that go far beyond what the media shows. With that in mind, knowing the ins and outs can only solve internal bias and create a safe space of understanding without judgement so the workplace can be more inclusive.
Don’t “other” us, include us.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace means embracing diverse individuals and including them as one of the rest. It doesn’t mean labeling us as a “trans employee” or “trans coworker”, but simply learning to leave our transness at the back of your mind. While some trans people don’t mind being that person to answer questions and curiosities, others just want to live a normal life as the human beings that they are.
At the same time, still keep an open ear and mind to our voices and perspectives when we do feel comfortable sharing. Let it be a perfect blend of embracing us without making it everything that we are. Transgender people live and breathe emotions and feelings just like every other cisgender employee, and they’re usually more amplified. This doesn’t mean we need “special treatment”, but just an acknowledgment goes a very long way. From putting pronouns on your LinkedIn bio to show you understand from adding transgender identities to your diversity forms on applications, there are plenty of ways to go about this.
Take action behind a simple message of equality.
Tying it all together would be taking the steps necessary to actually bring about equality for transgender individuals in the workplace. If you’re reading this article, then you already know that your mind is open to it. However, far too many companies will tweet their love for the community, yet do nothing about it. While a message is sweet, action is even better to bring about the right change.
At the end of the day, we just want to live our lives fearlessly without the prospects of being discriminated against because of who we are. There is nothing scarier than seeing laws put in place to harm the transgender community, and fearing for our livelihood is a harsh reality. In order to go above and beyond words, take these tips and run with them. If not to improve your workplace, then do it for ones you don’t know. Do it for the ones suffering and starving because of continous discrimination. All in all, the path forward is together, and I pray for a world one day where an article like this doesn’t even need to be written.Reach out