Welcome to a Trans Inclusion Conversation!
The idea of trans inclusion is one that some find themselves scratching their heads about. What is it and why do we need it? Why does it matter? How do I do it?
What does it look like when trans inclusion is not present?
What Should I Know?
Trans inclusion is the intentional act of being mindful, aware, and supportive of the transgender community within your workplace. This is needed not just because there may be someone transgender working in your office, but because gender equality and diversity benefits potential future employees, all of your clients and customers, and it creates a workplace environment that lets everyone know that it is safe to be who they are!
Some may mistakenly think that trans inclusion is about giving priority and unfair advantage to transgender people – this is not so. Instead, its quite the opposite – “Trans people want to be respected and treated the same as anybody else. It’s not about special treatment.” —Jerame Davis, executive director of the AFL-CIO constituency group Pride at Work
What Isn't My Business?
Sometimes well-meaning people are curious. They want to know about someone’s gender identity. There’s no harm in that, right?!
In reality, there can be plenty of harm in trying to investigate or pry into the identity of a colleague, client, or others. Being aware that someone else’s gender identity is none of your business helps to prevent mistakes from happening, even if you didn’t realize your behaviour was harmful.
Okay, I Understand This in Theory, But What Can I Actually Do in My Workplace?
A great place to begin is to think about what trans inclusion currently exists workplace. Some of you may have a very short think, as there may be little or nothing in place. Others may see ways in which there is some gender equality but where there is not nearly enough. Even those of you who can think of many ways in which diversity and inclusion are celebrated can always find new or updated methods for inclusion!
One great place to begin is to talk to your supervisor. The Human Rights Campaign suggests that a great place to incorporate trans inclusion is within the basic principle of the organization. They recommend that you encourage the company’s leadership to agree to a policy that will “Prohibit discrimination against transgender employees by including "gender identity or expression" or "gender identity" among the list of protected categories in your firm-wide non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.”
What if my Supervisor or Company’s Owner is Slow to Change or Refuses to Change?
This can make a person feel trapped in an unequal environment. However, your boss’ behaviours do not have to stop you from advocating for trans inclusion in your workplace! You can make a lot of change simply by talking with your colleagues! Help them to learn terminology such as saying someone was “assigned female at birth” when describing someone when their gender identity matters in the conversation. You can guide them to understand that transgender people are more than just their gender identity and their genitalia. You can encourage them to add their pronouns to their signature line. (A great way to do this is to model the behaviour and add them to yours) and then further this by introducing yourself in meetings by including your pronouns there too!
“Pronouns are only a controversial topic to those who choose not to understand why they matter,” says LGBT Expert Kryss Shane “As soon as it becomes commonplace to see pronouns listed in an email signature, to say them during introductions, and to include them on event nametags, people don’t dwell on pronouns. The only time pronouns are ‘stressful’ or ‘political’ is when someone chooses to refuse to acknowledge them… and that’s not anything more than being intentionally disrespectful or obtuse, neither of which are appropriate for the workplace!”
How Does This Impact Workplace Hiring Practices?
The transgender unemployment rate is about 15%, according to a 2015 report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, or three times the overall unemployment rate at the time. Three in 10 survey respondents who had a job in the past year said they had been terminated, denied a promotion or endured some other type of workplace mistreatment related to their gender identity or expression.
When your workplace is not just trans-inclusive in theory but also in their non-discrimination policies, pronoun acceptance, and ongoing willingness to adapt and improve, this lets potential employees know that they will never have to try to juggle their work tasks with a fear of being discovered or mistreated for being who they are. It lets employees know that their hard work and successes will be rewarded with appropriate compensation and promotions when they work with you. That leads to stronger applicants, more focused employees, and staff who feel loyal to your company because they see you are loyal to their sense of self.
What Can I Do Today to Support Trans Inclusion in My Workplace?