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Top 5 Tips for Working with Transgender Clients and Co-Workers  

Transgender people are employed in every industry and profession throughout the country. As a community, however, transgender people face enormous amounts of employment discrimination leading to high rates of unemployment and underemployment. Ensuring that your workplace is one in which all employees can fully participate is vital in order to help turn around these negative statistics and provide competent services to transgender clients.

1. Create meaningful and enforceable non-discrimination policies. It is important to have a general statement of non-discrimination that includes transgender people. It is even more helpful to have specific guidelines explaining what non-discrimination means in this context. Such guidelines would include information about the need to use a person’s correct name and pronoun, restroom accessibility, and confidentiality.

2. Have staff trainings. Whether you know that you have a transgender employee on staff or not, it is important to have staff trainings on the issue. Some transgender employees may not be “out” about their transgender status and may have transitioned years before coming to the company. In addition, while most staff want to be supportive of transgender co-workers, many will need some guidance on how to do so. Trainings are a much more effective way of creating a respectful environment than simply relying on written policies.

3. Respect confidentiality and privacy. It is almost never necessary to disclose a person’s transgender status to clients or other co-workers. In addition, it is never appropriate to do so without permission from your transgender co-worker. It is also generally inappropriate to ask co-worker questions about their private medical history or treatment. If you do have information about the health care that someone has accessed as part of their transition, you should not freely share it with anyone else unless your transgender co-worker has given you permission to do so.

4. Help co-workers who are having trouble with another employee’s transition. It is vitally important that co-workers assist and support one another in respecting a transgender co- worker’s gender identity. When a transgender person transitions on the job, it can sometimes be difficult for co-workers to remember to use the correct name and pronoun. If you hear a co-worker using the wrong name or pronoun, talk to them about it. It is likely just an unintentional slip and they will appreciate the reminder. Similarly, if you hear co-workers making inappropriate comments about a transgender co-worker’s appearance or medical history or the like, it is also helpful to intervene in a respectful and constructive way. In most cases, co-workers genuinely want to be accepting and supportive of transgender co-workers and may simply not be fully aware of how to do so.

5. Don’t assume that a transgender co-worker either knows about all transgender issues or wants to work on transgender cases. While some transgender employees may have a special interest in working on or discussing transgender-related issues, others may not. If you have an employee whom you know to be transgender, make sure that you aren’t expecting them to have all of the answers or to do your research for you. Expecting a transgender person to be the company’s expert on all things transgender is both an unfair burden on that person and can inadvertently serve to tokenize them within the company.

For the complete article go to:  www.transgenderlawcenter.org

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