Transgender or trans individuals are those whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. In recent years, there has been a growing movement to create more inclusive workplaces for trans employees. This is driven by the understanding that trans people experience higher levels of discrimination and harassment, leading to poorer mental health and reduced productivity.
According to Rainbow Health Victoria, international studies have found that approximately 1% of the world’s population identifies as transgender. In Australia, until the 2016 Census, there were few ways of reporting anything other than male or female, capturing a mere 1,260 sex and/or gender diverse people in Australia. This number is likely even higher, as many people may not feel comfortable publicly
disclosing their gender identity. For the first time, the 2021 Census allowed all respondents to select three response options for the sex question: male, female, and non-binary sex. However, this new category was not intended or designed to collect data on gender. Therefore, the number of people who reported sex non-binary cannot be used to measure gender diversity, non-binary gender, or transgender communities.
Creating a trans-affirmative workplace is a cultural step that all employers can make to empower employees to feel welcome regardless of gender identity. Such a policy can signal a commitment to diversity and inclusion, positively impacting staff engagement and retention.
What does it mean to have a trans affirmative workplace?
A trans-affirmative workplace is where employees feel comfortable and respected regardless of gender identity. Creating a trans-affirmative workplace can be achieved in several ways, including:
Offering Gender Transition Guidelines and ensuring that dress code and other policies are inclusive of all gender identities, ensuring that all employees know the rights and resources available to them.
Providing training and education to clarify how a gender transition process will unfold so they can be more sensitive to transitioning people’s feelings.
Creating an inclusive and welcoming workplace for everyone, regardless of gender identity.
Use gender-neutral language when possible. For example, instead of saying “hi guys”, “ladies and gentlemen”, say “everyone” or “folks”.
Avoid making assumptions about someone’s gender identity.
Be mindful of gendered language in job descriptions and other workplace communications. For example, instead of saying “salesman”, refer to the position as “sales associate”.
Create inclusive restroom policies that allow transgender and gender non-conforming employees to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity.
Please respect people’s privacy by refraining from asking personal questions about their transition or gender identity unless they have indicated they are comfortable discussing it.
Most importantly, when employers create an environment where employees feel safe discussing their gender identity, the workplace will benefit from:
No fear of discrimination or harassment
Increased employee engagement
Reduced staff attrition and unplanned leave
Higher staff retention
Lower risk of discrimination claims.
A trans-affirmative workplace can signal a commitment to diversity and inclusion and create a more supportive and productive work environment for all.
The Best Ways to Achieve Workplace Trans-Affirmation
As our society becomes more aware of the gender spectrum, workplaces need to shift to trans-affirmative policies. This doesn’t just mean being tolerant of transgender and non-binary people but actively accommodating them.
Here are a few policy changes and employee benefits that your workplace could implement to encourage an inclusive culture:
Ensure that everyone in the workplace uses the correct pronouns for each individual. This might seem small, but it’s crucial for transgender and non-binary people to feel respected in their workplace. If you’re unsure what someone’s preferred pronouns are, ask them! Most people will be happy to tell you what they like.
Provide access to gender-affirming healthcare, such as hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery. Many transgender people don’t have access to these treatments, and providing them with work benefits or payment plans can make a massive difference in their quality of life.
Consider contacting the Gender Voice Centre or voice feminisation classes for transgender women who want to change their voice to match their gender identity. This can be an incredibly empowering experience, something that many transgender women struggle with.
Making your workplace trans-affirmative is important in creating an inclusive environment for all employees. By taking these steps, you’ll be showing your transgender and non-binary employees that they are respected and valued members of your team.
The Benefits of Having a Trans-Affirmative Workplace
Gender-affirming workplaces centre around the needs of trans and non-binary people. This can take many forms, from inclusive policies and practices to educational materials and training on trans inclusion. When done well, your workplace will be an environment where everyone can thrive.
There are many benefits to creating a gender-affirming workplace. For trans and non-binary people, it can mean having their identity respected and affirmed. They may feel more comfortable and accepted at work and, as a result, be more productive. Gender-affirming workplaces can also attract and retain
top talent, as more and more people are looking for employers that value diversity. In addition, businesses that are seen as supportive of the trans community can benefit from increased consumer confidence and support.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for creating a gender-affirming workplace, but many resources are available to help businesses get started. By making inclusion a priority, companies can send a strong message of support to the trans community.
Trans-Affirming Workplace Resources for Employers and Employees
According to Beyond Blue, in Australia, around 60 per cent of transgender males and 50 per cent of transgender females reported having depression. Almost 90 per cent had experienced at least one form of stigma or discrimination, including verbal abuse, social exclusion, mistreatment due to their name or sex on documents, physical threats, and violence. To avoid this negative impact on the workplace and team morale, several resources are available for employers and employees who want to learn more about creating a trans affirmative workplace.
The Gender Voice Centre offers information about voice coaching, which details on how you can use your tongue placement to affect the pitch of your
voice, and how to modify the placement of your voice to achieve a brighter or more open sound.
Trans Hub also has several resources on its website, including a Gender Affirmation Policy and Guidelines Template for creating a trans-inclusive workplace. Creating a gender affirmation policy is often the first step toward achieving an inclusive workplace culture. This is a task you can actively start today!