Transitioning at work may be a significant step toward living in harmony with your gender identity. It may provide many advantages, including the freedom to express your gender, support from coworkers, and increased self – confidence. Many transgender and non-binary individuals want to smoothly undergo the process of transition while moving up the corporate ladder without it affecting their social status and advancement opportunities.
This guide is designed to assist transgender individuals in navigating workplace-related elements of their transition.
How to Navigate Through the Process of Gender Transition in the Workplace
Whether applying for jobs or transitioning at your current workplace, it’s important to remember that you are in control of your transition. Only you can decide who, if anyone, to disclose your gender identity to. Information related to your gender identity (such as sex assigned at birth) may be confidential medical information that does not need to be shared with those who do not need to know. Furthermore, you may choose to begin your transition at one workplace while continuing it at another. You may also choose when to begin certain aspects of your transition based on whether your organization has an inclusive environment or healthcare policy.
Applying to jobs while transgender or non-binary can sometimes feel like a confusing process. If your name or pronouns are different from what is listed on government identification documents, you may find it helpful to apply using the name and pronouns by which you wish to be referred. Unfortunately, your legal name will likely be required for payroll and retirement accounts. For this reason, you may be forced to disclose your transgender or non-binary identity while being onboarded. However, this information should otherwise remain confidential, and there is no reason for your other colleagues to know you as anything other than how you wish to be identified.
If you choose to disclose your trans identity during interviews or onboarding, you may also discuss necessary time off for transition related purposes. This can include time off for surgery, doctor’s appointments or personal time off to manage your transition. You may wish to ask for an onboarding form to see if there is any relevant information related to sexual orientation and gender identity of employees. No matter your position, even if you are an intern or part-time employee, you deserve a comfortable workplace environment. As long as it is safe and you are ready, publicly transitioning can allow you to grow your career as your authentic self.
The transitioning individual might be scared and apprehensive of people’s reactions as they plan to present their target gender in public. At this point, they are looking for support and acceptance.
Each individual undergoing a transition will have their own set of unique factors which can require a customised plan. Like any significant life event, employees may benefit from additional support from their organisations HR, People Leaders and other employees.
Practical Guidelines for the Transitioning Employees
You have the right to openly be who you are: to express your gender identity, characteristics or expression without fear of negative consequences. As part of a team, it is important for you to do your part to make the transition successful and one of the first steps is to inform key personnel who can assist you.
1. One of the first steps is to inform key people who can assist and support you. Your first point of contact can include:
- Your People Leader
- Your HR representative
- A member of the LGBT+ Employee Resource Group (ERG)
- A member of the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) function
2. State your intent clearly. Take the time, explain your intentions, needs and concerns to your HR to ensure they understand your needs and you understand their expectations.
3. Be prepared to educate people, your people leader and/or HR representative and others may not be educated about transgender issues and may not understand clearly what your needs may be.
4. Work together with your HR representative to create a transition plan which may include a trial period – to lay a roadmap on what steps need to be taken to ensure a successful transition.
If there is someone in your workplace that you trust, such as a close work partner or friend, you may wish to tell them about your transition first in order to gain an ally. Next, you may come out to your organization’s management or human resources representatives in order to create an action plan for transitioning at your workplace. If your organization has a coming out guide or non-discrimination policy, consult it for advice specific to your workplace.
Many organizations are committed to creating diverse workforces and retaining talented people from all backgrounds. When you decide to transition at work, some of the things you may wish to discuss are updating personal information such as your name, pronouns or employee photograph in internal systems. You may wish to decide on the use of gendered facilities such as bathrooms or changing rooms. If you plan to make a formal announcement of your transition, relevant information such as your email address and company photos should be ready in advance with your proper gender identity and expression.
If you plan to change your gender expression as part of your transition, you can discuss a timeline for when you plan to make this change. If you plan to medically transition, it is important to discuss time off for visits to medical providers. If your organization has an insurance policy, you can consult it for information on transition-related care. Even if you do not plan to medically transition, you may want time off to adjust to your new gender expression. Consider talking to your supervisors about the possibility of temporarily working from home so that you may be comfortable while transitioning.
However you decide to transition, it is important to know your rights and find allies who can support you.
Experts at National Gender Training will give you comprehensive guidance in dealing with the key issues of gender transition in the workplace by offering training on various aspects of gender transition such as language and terminology, pronouns, social relations, legal status, employment equality, and many others.