Posts Tagged ‘gender transition’

Workplace Blog and Resources for 2015 Transgender Day of Remembrance

Rita Hester, transgender woman murdered in 1998

Rita Hester, transgender woman murdered in 1998

This blog is loaded with links – please do use them!

The Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20, started in 1999, about a year after Rita Hester, a transgender woman and activist in Boston, was found murdered in her own apartment. It is very sad that transgender people are murdered or physically harmed at an extremely high rate compared to the general population, often fueled by hatred of this misunderstood segment of our community. Just this year alone, 2015, 70 new names have appeared on the Transgender Day of Remembrance site (link).

There are now a lot of resources available for people to learn more about the general plight of transgender people, and some are included within and at the bottom of this short blog. As a workplace diversity consultant, I want to focus on one area that can really help our transgender brothers and sisters; equal opportunity in the workplace and the ability to make a living. Transgender people often have the same education, skills, and work ethic as all other people companies employ, and deserve the same chance for gainful employment. Providing equitable opportunity for work is one way we can assist in helping everyone see transgender people are totally equal human beings.

Certainly this workplace journey has just begun, and according to recent statistics, much more focus and work is needed. A comprehensive survey from The Taskforce reported that 15% of US transgender people are living in poverty compared to 5% of the general population, and that transgender people are two times likely to experience assault or discrimination at work.

Here is a quick list of things companies can do to support transgender people in the workplace:
• Add “Gender Identity and Expression” into the corporate non-discrimination policy
• Provide appropriate benefits for employees undoing gender transition, including counseling, hormones, surgery…
• Including transgender information in diversity training that should go out to all employees.
• Appropriate handling of employee record changes, new email addresses, new badge, etc.
• Management coaching for managers who have transgender employees
• Trained Human Resource practitioners to respectfully case manage employee gender transitions
• Trans-supportive handling of the restroom configuration and policy.

As an HR diversity consultant, I am a strong advocate for corporations and organizations taking the lead to provide full respect and opportunity for transgender people.

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Additional Resources:

North Carolina’s LGBT community newspaper QNotes has their early November edition focused on the transgender community.

Trans-supportive religious material from Metropolitan Community Churches.

A blog I wrote earlier this year called “The Perfect Trans-storm” highlighting the increased focus I have seen around transgender people.

A more comprehensive outline on Human Resources for Transgender Employees that I wrote for the Workforce Diversity Network.

A blog I wrote last November: “Five Things to Never Say to Transgender People.”

The Perfect “Trans-storm”

Please see and use the many links featured in this blog to read additional details.

Raffi Freedman Gurspan, the first openly transgender employee of the US White House (AP Photo / National Center for Transgender Equality)

Raffi Freedman Gurspan, the first openly transgender employee of the US White House (AP Photo / National Center for Transgender Equality)

Many people are familiar with the term, “The perfect storm” that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will impact a situation drastically. I truly believe we are now in “a perfect storm” for the fight for equality including workplace and health benefits for transgender people. Many positive recent happenings have now all aligned so that is there is a tremendous focus on understanding and appreciating this misunderstood and often maligned segment of our population.

As a diversity consultant with a deep expertise in LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Diversity, when I have presented an LGBT Diversity workshops to Human Resources Professionals throughout 2015 (see my blog about this), a vast majority of questions during the Q and A time are about the transgender segment. Just last week I delivered a workshop titled “Corporate and Organizational Support for Transgender People: The Whys and Hows” at the monthly meeting of the HR Management Association of Greensboro (North Carolina) to a sold out crowd of over 150 engaged HR practitioners. Yes – we are not talking New York City nor San Francisco, but here in North Carolina!

Here are the five items in chronological order which I believe have contributed to what I have termed this “perfect trans-storm:”

1) The 2009 “coming out” of high profile celebrity Chas Bono, the child of pop singers Sonny and Cher.

2) The growing popularity of transgender television star Laverne Cox on the hit television show “Orange is the New Black” which premiered in 2013 and is still running. And this was followed in 2014 with a photo of Laverne Cox on the cover of Time Magazine with the story titled “The Transgender Tipping Point – America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier.”

3) The executive order signed by US President Obama on July 21, 2014 making it illegal to fire or harass employees of federal contractors based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and explicitly adding discrimination against transgender employees within the federal government. Link to blog about this announcement.

4) The much publicized gender transition of Olympic champion Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn in July of this year.
SRHM Mag Cover

5) On August 19, 2015, The White house announcing the hiring of its first openly transgender staff member, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Outreach and Recruiter Director for Presidential Personnel.

Coincidentally, the day I presented my workshop at the Greensboro SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) chapter meeting, the September issue of the SHRM monthly “HR Magazine” was delivered to my home. And the cover story? “The New Face of Diversity – Transgender Employee Policies Are Gaining Support – Are You Ready?”

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