Transgender Inclusion at Work

You have probably heard this before, but just in case you haven’t, there’s a lot going on in the world of transgender awareness and inclusiveness in workplaces everywhere.

It is about time.

If you are aware of what’s going on, then you will perhaps be familiar with two names: Angela Dawson and Jesse Thompson.

Angela Dawson, a transgender woman known to many Vancouverites as “Roller Girl,” won a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case in 2015 against the Vancouver Police Department (Board), after being refused access to medical care in jail and referred to as “Jeffrey.”

The tribunal found that since Dawson informed officers that she was a transgender female and was not treated as such, she was discriminated against on the basis of sex.

The Vancouver Police Board was ordered to pay Dawson $15,000 as damages for “injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.”

The tribunal found the department committed “systemic discrimination” over how it identified transgender people.

Walk With Me

Since that time, the Vancouver Police Department has developed a new policy regarding the issues identified within the tribunal proceedings and released a new training video called “Walk With Me.”

The 17 – minute video outlines the difficulties many trans people go through in daily life and will be shown to all VPD employees. It identifies the fears and challenges faced by the transgender community. It includes multiple stories from transgender residents on how they’d prefer to be treated by police and the community. It also includes statements from researchers and political figures.

However, the VPD is not alone. Many organizations find themselves wrestling with the society’s new norms.

sonar leadership fiore group training

Transgender inclusion in society

Jesse Thompson is a 19-year-old from Oshawa, Ontario.

Thompson felt that by being forced by a minor hockey league official to change in a separate dressing room during the 2012-13 season “outed” him and exposed him to harassment and bullying.

He got the ball rolling on transgender inclusion in 2013 when he filed a human rights complaint in Ontario against Hockey Canada. Ontario’s minor hockey branches agreed in 2014 to change dressing room policies and to educate personnel on transgender inclusion.

The new policy states that “players who identify as trans can use the dressing room corresponding to their gender identity. They should be addressed by their preferred name and pronoun, and have the privacy and confidentiality of their transgender status respected.”

Full implementation is going to affect this 2016-17 season.

How aware is your workplace?

So it appears that a great deal of the issues comes down to education and awareness within workplaces.transgender-bathroom-sign

One of the definitive resources comes from the UK in the form of:

The Workplace and Gender Reassignment: A guide for staff and managers.

In the meantime, here are some great tips to ensure that your organization is current and welcoming:

  1. Include gender identity and gender expression in general diversity and inclusion policies. Remember that by referring only to sexual orientation, you are not speaking to trans-identified employees.
  2. Take steps to ensure trans-identified employees can report bullying and harassment. Ensure your bullying and harassment policy or statement refers to transphobic bullying and that this is promoted widely to all staff.
  3. For larger organizations, create an LGBT employee resource group (ERG) and arrange a speaker on trans-identified inclusion. If your organization is smaller, ensure that the contact details of external support organizations are available to staff via employee counseling services and your organization’s website.
  4. Create a procedural guidance note for your organization listing all computer and paper records which record the gender of employees and how to update them fully upon notification that an employee has started a gender reassignment process. (This is something that created one of the issues for the VPD)
  5. Update the workplace absence management policy of your organization to make explicit that absences required for gender reassignment medical assessments and treatments including counseling, speech therapy and surgeries need to be treated in a similar manner to other medically necessary special leave provided for in your policy.
  6. Define and advertise your organization’s policies surrounding dress code and toilet usage for employees who have started a gender reassignment process.
  7. Identify a senior member of staff to champion trans-identified equality and encourage them to speak out publicly against transphobia in the workplace.
  8. Review your current diversity training program to ensure that it includes a consideration of trans-identified issues in the workplace. This will raise awareness among all staff of trans issues.
  9. Carry out a staff attitude survey which includes questions designed to understand attitudes towards trans-identified people. This will ascertain where further training and awareness raising is required within the
  10. Improve your reputation among trans-identified employees and prospective employees by stating a commitment to trans-identified equality in recruitment advertising and by advertising in LGBT media