Easing Gender Transitioning Employees, Part II: Preparing Their Peers 

Trans woman sits at a desk in front of a laptop and coffee cup. Announcing blog post about supporting gender transitioning employees in the workplace.

Inclusive workplaces are a team effort in LGBT allyship

By taking on the task of (re)introducing concepts like gender transition, gender identity, and gender expression in a general way, managers can take some of the burden of educating others off of the employee who is transitioning. Because gender transition can be a stressful, vulnerable time in a person’s life, this is a significant way to support your staff’s overall wellness at work. 

In Part I, we gave some starting tips for managers to work with the employee who is undergoing a gender transition, themselves. In today’s post, we are focusing on the conversations that managers and supervisors need to have with the colleagues and coworkers of that transitioning person, to ensure a safe and welcoming workplace can be maintained every step of the way.

Remembering boundaries in an inclusive workplace

It will be useful and important to refer back to the action plan set with the employee going through gender transition to decide who needs to be informed, and how they are included in the process. They may also prefer to disclose their transition to a few trusted colleagues first; this is their decision, and should be supported in doing so. 

Following this, a best practice is to host a group training or professional development session, one to two weeks before the date set by the transitioning employee to be officially recognized by their new name and/or gender identity. This gives time for sensitive conversations or consultations to occur for staff who require additional training or support.

The topic of gender transition can bring up strong feelings in some people — as much as possible, those feelings and any general questions about gender transition should be handled by persons other than the transitioning employee, who will already have to handle additional stress in other contexts. In some cases, it may be best to hire a third party organization to help provide this training support for confidentiality purposes. 

First Steps: Reiterating Your Company Inclusivity Statement and Policies around Gender Transition

Call a meeting with members of the organization who work closely with the gender transitioning person. Start by reviewing your company inclusivity and diversity statement and/or policy, and commitment to upholding the values set within it. It is especially crucial to demonstrate cultural buy-in to the inclusivity policy from senior members of the organization: the impact of their responses and general support can go a long way in upholding standards of respect and tolerance among the rest of the staff. 

It can be effective to host a discussion that invites participants to reflect on what it means to them to have their identities and rights protected and respected at work. Personalizing this (re)introduction to the policy and ethos of the company can help build empathy amongst your team members, which will ease the overall changes occurring. 

Narrow it Down: Gender Expression and Identity

From here, gauge the general understanding of gender identity and expression. What does it mean to present (or express) one’s gender? Answers to look for can include dress/clothing, makeup, and pronouns, among others. 

Identify and re-introduce the employee going through their gender transition. Allow them to provide whatever amount of detail about their transition to the group as they are comfortable. For example, what their new name is, which pronouns they want others to use to refer to them, and anything else they feel is important for their colleagues to know. 

Using their new, affirmed name and pronouns is part of the care they deserve to be shown by the people around them. Just like when practicing to include pronouns in your personal introductions, it just takes practice! Remember that honest mistakes happen, and collectively affirm that it may take some time for everyone to get accustomed to the transitioning person’s new name and pronouns. However, it is important to be wary of continued use of a trans person’s former name (also known as a “deadname”) and pronouns over time, which could be considered harassment and should be handled as such under any relevant procedures.

And that’s it! If you are looking for support in planning or facilitating training on gender-based inclusivity, or need diversity professionals to help answer your employees’ questions about gender transition, MT Consulting Group can help. Book a consultation with us today to provide immediate feedback and develop actionable next steps. 

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