Transgender and Nonbinary Employee Inclusion
More than two million people in the United States are transgender, and more than one million identify as nonbinary. Nonbinary people may describe themselves with other terms as well, such as agender, gender fluid, genderqueer, multigender, two-spirit, or bigender. Here are some ways you can support these employees at work.
Employer Tips for Supporting Transgender and Nonbinary Employees
You can foster an inclusive workplace for transgender and nonbinary employees even if you aren’t aware that any of your employees are transgender or nonbinary.
- Adopt, distribute, and enforce policies that protect employees from discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.
- If you have a dress code, make sure it’s gender neutral.
- If you offer health insurance, make sure it covers transgender medical care.
- Establish a cultural norm of all employees sharing their pronouns (she/he/they/ze).
- Train managers on gender identity and gender expression diversity (the Human Rights Campaign offers a toolkit for employers).
Even if you think that an employee has begun to transition from one gender to another or to change their presentation to nonbinary, allow them to inform you when they’re ready rather than asking questions.
Coming Out as Transgender or Nonbinary
When an employee comes out, you should reaffirm the company’s commitment to supporting them at work.
- Tell the employee that they can openly express their gender identity without fear of consequences.
- Center the employee’s needs and preferences by asking before acting (for example, ask the employee if they want their gender transition announced to the rest of the company).
- Share what options are available, such as changing their company profile or email address if and when they choose a new name or reintroducing them to the company with their new name.
- Let them know that your door is open if they have any questions or concerns.
Accommodations for Transgender and Nonbinary Employees
Many—but not all—transgender people use medical interventions (e.g., surgery or hormone therapy). If an employee brings these up, explain what benefits might apply when they are undergoing treatment or need time off to recover, such as sick leave or paid time off. Requests for accommodations would likely need to be granted unless it would cause an undue hardship.
Communication & Expectations
Collaborate with the employee about how they want to inform coworkers about their transition. Messages from the company should set your expectations in broad terms through your harassment and equal employment policies. You should also be explicit that all employees are allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, and that other employees should use the employee’s new name and pronouns.
If coworker objections or complaints arise, be understanding and flexible to resolve conflicts. Keep in mind, though, that personal opinions and religious beliefs don’t override the transgender or nonbinary employee’s right to be free from discrimination and harassment at work.
GTM Can Help with Employee Inclusion
Our HR consultants can find strategies that work for you and your employees by assessing your current policies and training programs. Our DEI services include training and coaching for both managers and employees, and we can provide DEI and climate surveys to help you get a better understanding of how to use DEI to help recruit and retain employees. Fill out the brief form below to learn more.