Want To Create A Trans-Inclusive Company?
The retaliation was swift and harsh: increased
scrutiny, micromanaging and a heavier workload.
“They were obviously just looking for any excuse they
could think of to get rid of me,” Jessie explained,
and it worked. Jessie quit the job and, after a long
stint of unemployment, began working as a freelance
writer. After hearing this story, we wondered out loud
if Jessie had considered filing a complaint. “I was
concerned about possible consequences elsewhere...
sometimes if you ﬁle a complaint with one employer,
all the people in the same ﬁeld or the same industry
can hear about it.” The answer was no.
Doing It Right
When the client looked at Robin (she/her) and said,
“What is its problem today?” before walking away,
Robin felt a sense of exhaustion. As the first and only
out trans woman in her union, Robin bore the brunt of
ignorant and prejudiced comments from co-workers
and clients like this one every day. In her work as an
audio technician, transitioning on the job had led to
pay cuts and decreased opportunities, but Robin had
persevered despite the financial challenges. This
client would be ignored.
“Hey!” came a voice. It was Robin’s supervisor for
the assignment. As Robin would later learn, this
supervisor called out the client for his treatment of
Robin and made it clear that his behavior would not
be tolerated. He would not be a return client. “That
makes me feel really good, when bosses support you
like that,” Robin said afterwards. And that wasn’t all.
As Robin shared, “At this workplace I don’t get called
by my old name, I very rarely get misgendered, and if I
do, it’s not by anybody on the staff.” Robin felt doubly
supported by a manager willing to fight for her and a
workplace environment that included her. Inclusion
left a strong impression on her.
Culture and Leadership
Your workplace can empower people of all genders
to bring their authentic selves to work by harnessing
the power of culture and leadership. How? Start with
these three steps:
Create a timeline for improvement. Survey the current
state of inclusion in the workplace and take note
of strengths and areas for growth. Work with trans
employees to set ambitious but achievable milestones
toward a more inclusive workplace.
Invest in and train trans-inclusive executives and
managers. Make inclusion a priority among your
hiring and leadership development criteria and train
leadership to set a positive example.
Work together with your colleagues to create an
inclusive company culture. Develop, implement and
normalize inclusive behaviors; build an environment
where employees trust in each other; and make it safe
to make mistakes in good faith. Trans inclusivity is a
value, not an endpoint.
Whether you’re a leader or an entry-level employee,
we all have a part to play in creating trans inclusion in
the workplace. When we work together, we can create
organizations that reflect our inclusive values and
improve the experience of work for all of us.
Adapted from Gender Ambiguity in the Workplace: Transgender and
Gender-Diverse Discrimination (Praeger, May 2018).
Alison Ash Fogarty, PhD, is a sociologist,
sex and intimacy coach, and sexual
empowerment educator. She is the
founder of TurnON.love. Her work has
been published in the American Journal
of Sociology and Gender & Society.
She earned her doctorate at Stanford
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Lily Zheng is an organizational
consultant, executive coach, and design
researcher who works with people and
organizations to transform positive
intentions into positive impacts.
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