Transgender is an umbrella term for the spectrum of people whose gender identity or expression does not conform to society’s expectations of male and female. In some cases, gender expression takes the form of clothing, hair style, voice and body characteristics. In other cases, we are taking about gender identity, which is the way a person feels internally about who they really are. This means there are people who may have been born as physical males, but deep down inside they feel they are female. And there are people who may been born as physical females, but deep down inside believe they are truly male. This is an oversimplification since there are wide ranges of possibilities. The most current highly visible transgender person is Chaz Bono, formerly Chastity Bono, now the son of Sonny and Cher.
So what does this mean for the workplace? With more visibility given to transgender people, more people desire to go through the gender transition process while remaining in their jobs. Instead of moving to a far away city and starting life all over again, many transgender people now want to continue in the community and company where they have their network of friends and have built professional expertise. And it makes sense that a company would want to support such employees and retain this important talent. As an employee transitions from male to female, or female to male, they still retain the those skills and company knowledge that make them a valuable employee.
A short blog does not provide the space to go through the policies and procedures that companies can execute to support gender transitioning employees. But there is a great opportunity later this summer for you, your company or enterprise to gain this valuable knowledge. The SouthEastern Transgender Health Summit (Tagline: Providing Access, Promoting Wellness) will be held in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina in Asheville August 23-25, 2012. Though the primary audience for this event is healthcare providers including physicians, nurses, psychologists and other mental health professionals, a special track has been designed for human resource professionals and business leaders, valuable for everyone including those not in the health field. The overarching goal of this conference is to increase the awareness of need, and to improve the quality and accessibility of culturally competent care for those who identify as transgender. Link here for more information and to register for this summit. I will be a presenter and panelist as well as having a display booth all weekend.
• Left-Hander in London: A Field Guide to Transgenders, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals. This newly published book is written by JJ Gufredo, a successful transgender business owner and process consultant. Click here for more information and to order this informative and inspirational book.
• Link to an excellent article on transgender employees in the magazine “Insight into Diversity” (pages 22-24). Magazine