Transgender in the Workplace: The Necessary Conversation


Whether you are already transgender or are in the process of transitioning, a conversation should be had with your employer.  Though there may be a fear of harassment, discrimination, or lack of acceptance, it is a conversation that can and must happen.  There is no wrong or right way to begin the conversation, and it is up to you when, how and where the conversation begins.  However, here are some things to keep in mind.


Come Prepared


Before starting the conversation, become informed on the laws in your state. Know what you are protected from, and what you are not protected from. Unfortunately, while there are no federal laws that protect against being fired because of your gender identity, state laws offer more protection from discrimination.  The good news is a majority of Fortune 500 companies now outline their non-discrimination policies, including gender identity.  Knowing that your company and the state in which is operates offers you protection against discrimination will allow you more confidence to begin the conversation with your employer.


Voice Concerns


Whether it is the first time coming out as transgender with your employee, or just a check-in conversation, voice any concerns regarding your wellbeing in the workplace. Your employer should be more interested in your ability to do your job than your gender choice. If you feel that your work is being affected by your coworkers’ harassment, or other discrimination in the workplace, your employer should be aware so they are able to handle the situation immediately and effectively.  The most important thing to any employer is that business runs smoothly, so they should be attentive to ensure employee happiness to increase productivity. If your employee does not seem to resonate with this belief, highlight that the company is made of the sum of it parts, and as an employee you are one of those very important parts.


Seek Support


In order to have the conversation with your boss, seek out a support system to help you accomplish your goal. Support groups offer a great opportunity to learn from others how they approached the conversation with their employee and how things have progressed in the workplace since having the conversation.  In turn, you may help others by sharing your personal experiences.


There are many topics that need to be addressed in regards to being transgender in the workplace, such as accommodating bathroom choices and proper pronoun usage. However, the most important accommodation should be inclusion and acceptance of a transgender employee in the workplace. That is why it is incredibly important to have a conversation with your employer, as soon as possible.   


Written By: O.Greendyk