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.”

LGBT Pride Month 2015 – The Year of the “T”

IMPORTANT NOTE: Lots of Useful and Interesting LGBT and Pride Month Links at the bottom of the blog! Any many links throughout the main article! Check them out.

The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, Universally considered the beginning of the modern Gay Rights Movement in the US

The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, Universally considered the beginning of the modern Gay Rights Movement in the US

Traditionally, June is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Pride Month commemorating the “Stonewall Rebellion” in Greenwich Village, New York in late June 1969. Led by a set of brave drag queens, patrons of the Stonewall Tavern boldly stood up to police harassment.

In my annual LGBT Pride Month blog this year I want to focus on the “T” (or transgender) in LGBT. Why? This seems to be a watershed time with a significant increase of focus on the transgender segment of our community.

Over the past 12 months as I delivered LGBT workshops and trainings across the country, mostly in a human resources professional setting, about 80% of the questions during the “Question and Answer” time are about transgender issues. Questions like:
• What do we need to do HR policy-wise to be more supportive of our transgender employees?
• How do we make the business case to our senior executives that we as a company should be providing gender transition health benefits for our transgender employees, and that medical treatments and surgeries should be considered necessary and not “optional” care?
• What kind of training do we need to provide to the co-workers of an employee who may be undergoing gender transition?
• What bathroom should a transgender person be using? What should we do if another employee complains about a transgender employee using a certain bathroom?

I believe there are several reasons for this increased focus:
• High profile celebrity transitions (Chas Bono a few years ago and more recently Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner) have made transgender people much more visible. (LATE EDIT: Link to this cool Vanity Fair magazine cover featuring Caitlyn Jenner!)
• Transgender characters are featured as mainstream in a more positive light such as Laverne Cox (link to Time Magazine Interview) in “Orange is the New Black.” In fact Ms. Cox was the first transgender person to be featured on cover of a Time Magazine issue last year with the title “The Transgender Tipping Point – America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier.”

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)

• With a large majority of Fortune 500 companies now providing full inclusion for gay men, lesbian and bisexual people covered under “sexual orientation,” they are now addressing the transgender area (gender identity and expression) that may have not been fully addressed earlier.
• The younger generation now emerging into more leadership roles are much more “gender fluid” and not as tied to strict gender stereotypes and roles.

(NOTE: As a University of Chicago graduate I was delighted and proud as am alumnus to see the Jan-Feb Alumni Magazine include an alumni essay called “On Common Ground” written by transwoman Christina Kahrl AB’90 about her finding acceptance as a transgender women as a baseball writer and television analyst.)

In fact, while I was in the middle of writing this blog, Mr. Val Boston III of Boston and Associates, one of my experienced consulting mentors forwarded me an announcement : Dr. Jamison Green, a pioneering world leader in transgender advocacy (who I even worked with early in IBM’s days of addressing transgender employees) has announced a strategic partnership with the Diversity & Inclusion Center to education organizations about transgender issues in the workplace.

Since it was several transgender people who took the bold lead in the original Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, it is totally fitting that the “T” should be front and center for LGBT Pride 2015!

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Here are some additional past blogs that can serve as LGBT Pride Month Resources:

LINK to last year’s LGBT Pride Month Blog On the Importance of Being a REAL Ally.

LINK: Five things to never say to gay people

LINK: Five things to never say to transgender people

LINK: Five common misconceptions about gay people

LINK: Five Heroes of the early US Gay Rights Movement

LINK: Five Ways CEOs Can Show Support for LGBT Diversity

A Guest Blog: LGBT Gay Diversity in Direct Sales

LINK: Four Quick Points around LGBT Economic Development

LINK: The Intersection of LGBT and Aging

LINK: LGBT and Housing Issues