Archive for November 2014

Five things never to say to transgender people

Many thanks to two local gracious trans-knowledgeable people Rebecca Chapin and Elaine Martin for their review and suggestions on this blog.

In recognition of November 20th being the annual “Transgender Day of Remembrance” I am publishing this blog called “Five things never to say (or ask of) transgender people.” A few years ago I wrote “Five things to not say to gay people” which was my first blog to ever get over 100 hits, which motivated me to add this new installment.

Transgender woman Laverne Cox made history by being the first transgender person on the cover of Time Magazine (May, 2014)

Transgender woman Laverne Cox made history by being the first transgender person on the cover of Time Magazine (May, 2014)


For those of you in North Carolina, here is a link to our local Transgender Day of Remembrance activities.

Transgender people are getting much more visibility and recognition today as evidenced by the cover story in the June 9th issue of Time Magazine titled “The Transgender Tipping Point – America’s Next Civil Right’s Frontier.”

In addition to my five listed below, check out this humorous yet very educational YouTube video from Calperia Adams titled “Bad Questions.” (link)

1) Do you have a penis or vagina? Or “when did you have the surgery?” Not all gender variant people are able to afford, wish to have, nor are moving in the direction of surgery. This question perpetuates the mentality that all trans people are physically transitioning and that genitals are the ultimate decider of a person’s gender. Plus you normally do not ask other people about their private parts … they are called private parts for a reason.

2) Calling the person by the wrong pronoun. Or also asking “what is your real name?” When a transgender person is dressed in women’s clothes and presenting as a female, she probably wants to be referred to as “she” and if presenting as a male in male clothes, addressed as “he.” If you are in doubt, respectfully ask the person what gender and preferred name they would like used in addressing them.

Transgender man Chas Bono, child of iconic pop singers Sonny and Cher, brought great visibility to the transgender community when he appeared on "Dancing with the Stars."

Transgender man Chas Bono, child of iconic pop singers Sonny and Cher, brought great visibility to the transgender community when he appeared on “Dancing with the Stars.”


3) Asking “when did you decide to become transgender?” or “when did you choose to be a transgender person?” Like sexual orientation, gender identity is not a choice, it is the way a person was born. Most transgender people have identified internally in their hearts their desired and honest gender since early childhood.

4) Asking “Are you straight or gay? Do you like men or women?” Normally, you do not ask a casual acquaintance if they are gay, straight or bi, so why ask a transgender person? People will disclose their sexual orientation when they want to in the context of a growing friendship. It is also important to keep in mind that sexual orientation (who you are attracted to) and gender identity (who you feel you are deep down inside) are two very different aspects of a person.

5) Being sexually intrigued by them and asking them to participate in kinky games with you. That totally dehumanizes a transgender person and basically turns them into a “curiosity” for you instead of respecting them as full normal human beings who deserve the same respect as everyone else (if not more respect for some of the issues they have had to deal with.)

Please take the time to research this important community, get to know transgender people as people, and please be an active ally for transgender people advocating for full equal rights and respect.

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FYI with photo above – link to Laverne Cox’s interview with Time Magazine on the Transgender Movement

A Special Veterans Day Blog: The Value of Hiring Our Veterans

For Veterans Day 2014 (November 11th), I am publishing this blog around a critical topic for our country and for our veterans – employment! This is especially important as our economy continues to struggle with available employment options often being fewer than people looking for work, and as larger number of US armed services personnel are returning to the US due to decreasing overseas deployment.

The "boots to suits" imagery is often used to depict the transfer to valuable skills gained in military experience into the commercial environment.

The “boots to suits” imagery is often used to depict the transfer to valuable skills gained in military experience into the commercial environment.


Here in North Carolina, with a high number of military bases, many veterans are choosing to return to our state after deployment or service. In NC, we have the 3rd largest concentration of active duty forces in the nation, the 6th largest military retiree population, and the military accounts for 10% of all economic activity in our state!

I am proud to participate in the NC Governor’s Working Group on Veterans, Service Members and Their Families. Part of this working group is focusing on Veteran employment with Kimberly Lindsay, Chief Human Resources Officer for the City of Jacksonville, NC leading the way as the Volunteer Director for this NC Vets initiative called “NC Works 4 Vets.”

Kimberly presents three very important aspects of fostering Veteran employment:

1) Top Strategic Leadership in Organizations needs to be involved. It is the top that sets the strategic direction and all else follows from there. Our senior leaders need to understand that hiring vets not only is the right thing to do to support those who served our country, but more importantly brings sorely needed skilled talent into our organizations. Most corporate leaders realize that recruiting the best talent builds competitive strength, and veterans bring with them a superb set of technical and interpersonal skills.

2) Human Resources then needs to take the lead to implement the strategic direction of hiring vets by executing a well planned out structure that results in excellent hiring decision of the vets that best fits their organization’s talent needs. This will include the steps of screening applicants, identifying the candidates with the best fit, coordinating interviews, checking references and assisting line management with making the best hiring decisions.

3) Veterans bringing forward skills companies need. Organizational strategic leadership and the HR leaders both need to realize, and veterans need to communicate during the process the excellent skills they have gained that companies need: communications skills, teamwork, planning and organizing, coaching / developing others, problem solving and more.

Let's not forget that an increasing number of veterans are women who are also looking for employment after their military service.

Let’s not forget that an increasing number of veterans are women who are also looking for employment after their military service.


Finding and hiring the right vets for an organization is a win – win – win: For the veterans who want to transition from serving our country to serving a company, for the company needing skilled employees and for our state and national economy!

If you are an HR or SHRM group in NC or company wanting to learn more about the NC Works 4 Vets initiative so you can become more active in promoting the hiring of our veterans, please contact Kimberly Lindsay at KRLindsay3@gmail.com

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