HELP WITH GENDER TRANSITIONS AT WORk

Employee Gender Transition Guidelines for Employers

1. Establish a workplace transition manager (often an HR representative).

The workplace transition manager is the key staff person in charge of managing the onsite gender transition. Ideally, this person is able to offer genuine support, a safe line of communication to both administrators and staff, and is someone who can be trusted to keep the confidence of the transitioning employee.

2. The workplace transition manager will meet with the gender transitioning employee and identify a plan of action.

In a meeting between the workplace transition manager and the gender transitioning employee, it is important to discuss the following items and co-create a plan of action accordingly. The workplace transition needs to achieve a balance of safety for the transitioning employee and successful management of the company at large.

Topics for discussion will include:

*  Is there a need for a transition team?
In larger corporations, it may be necessary to involve key administrators or managers from across the company to insure that the transitioning employee has adequate support from both within, and outside of, his or her department.

*  Who will be informed?
Deciding who will be informed can be difficult. Those people with whom the employee is in direct contact with on a daily basis will need to be told. Less clear are the people with whom the employee had occasional contact, the company staff at large, and associated professionals with whom the employee interacts outside of the company? Clients, vendors, etc? This is best decided jointly by the employee and the transition manager.

* How will they be informed?
There a are a variety of ways to inform staff. Direct, individual communication by employee or transition manager, an all-staff meeting conducted by transition manager (with option to read a letter by employee to staff, or a letter by administration), a memo, email, or letter written by employee or transition manager distributed to all staff, or an educational training session on diversity offered by a consultant, or an in- in-house if available, and educated.

*When will they be informed?

It is important to communicate this message to staff before a transition occurs. Many transitioning employees will coordinate their gender disclosure with a surgery, vacation, holiday or long weekend to create time for the information to settle in with coworkers. It is important to communicate this message to all who will be informed within the same day or two (depending on differing shifts) so that the message does not get spread in damaging ways. If necessary, utilize written communication or an all staff meeting to achieve this goal.

* What will they be informed?

This is decided by the employee, and it is important to share only the information relevant to co-workers and other staff as it relates to employment and the creation of a positive work environment for all. The purpose of this sharing is to foster a safe and productive workplace for all employees.

* The gender transitioning employee who has formerly been known as (previous name) will be presenting to work on (start date in new gender role) in a (new gender – m/f) role and is now referred to as (employee’s preferred, or new legal name) with (new pronoun m/f) pronouns.

* This is a medical condition for which this employee has undergone supervised care, and the details of this transition are not relevant to, or necessary to discuss, in the workplace.

* While the change in name and pronouns may be difficult to remember at first, it is of the utmost importance to exercise consistent care to communicate to and about this employee with respect to his or her new gender.

* There is zero tolerance for any type of harassment and all employees are encouraged to report any harassment observed via this confidential reporting system (share how employees can confidentially report issues of harassment that they are experiencing or observing).

 

3. Change workplace records.

Once the employee has changed his or her name legally, it is important to update personnel records, benefit information and accounts, as well as insurance policies, and other related records. More information about laws related to this can be found at: http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/personnel-documentation-for-transgender-employees

4. Update name badges and workplace identification.

Once the employee begins working in his or her new gender role, it is important to support his or her success with updated name badges, email accounts, and any other changes which underscore the message to all staff that this employee is now effectively known in his or her new name.

5. Discuss workplace dress code.

The employee’s workplace dress code will now be reflected by the policies set forth (if any) for the gender role he or she is now presenting.

* More information about this can be found at http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/workplace-dress-codes-and-transgender-employees

6. Establish restroom usage.

One of the challenges with workplace transitions is where the employee will use the restroom, or lockers if applicable. Ideally, if it is safe to do so, the employee will use the facilities designated for his or her new gender role.

7. Importance of confidentiality.

The transition manager is trusted with information about the transitioning employee that is not to be accessible to other staff without the employees express consent. The successful ability to maintain confidentiality is the key to a successful and truly supportive transition manager.

8. Role model the behavior you wish employees to have.

All administration and other leaders within the company must role model ideal behavior by using appropriate pronouns, and the transitioning employee’s new name – without fail, as well as speak to, and about, the employee with respect.

9. Educate whenever, and however, possible. (Pamphlets, websites, staff sensitivity trainings, etc.)

Most people fear what they don’t understand. Providing accurate information in the form of educational pamphlets, an informative email, or even consulting with an outside educator to provide a staff training, is a great way to support all of your staff in becoming more tolerant, compassionate employees. A peaceful staff is a productive staff. Help your employees understand and learn how to appreciate differences.

10. Separate beliefs from behaviors.

Some employees will have difficulty with the transitioning employee because of their personal beliefs about gender transitions in general. As with any workplace difference of opinion, or difference in values, it is not relevant what an employee believes personally – what is relevant at the workplace is behavior. Regardless of beliefs, all employees are expected to treat one another with respect. When you experience employees who are expressing complaints based on beliefs, be sure to help them separate beliefs and behaviors.

 

If you would like assistance in developing a workplace gender transition, please schedule an appointment with me here.

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