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.”

Part 1 of 3: The Diversity of Aging – General Life and Workplace Overview

NOTE: This blog contains many useful and interesting links. Explore them!

Several things have happened over the past month to inspire me to now write a blog series about one aspect of diversity – the aging or “mature” population.

• At a Sunday church service I recently attended at Imani Metropolitan Community Church in Durham, NC, “Miss Mildred,” a 93 year-old woman was slowly

Church pastor and author Rev. Marilyn Bowens spoke recently at a church service on the importance of valuing older members of our community.

Church pastor and author Rev. Marilyn Bowens spoke recently at a church service on the importance of valuing older members of our community.

assisted to the keyboard and played two hymns that the congregation sang. After the songs, Imani’s pastor Rev. Marilyn Bowens remarked how so often society simply discards or disregards our older citizens, even when they still have gifts and talents to share with us. Miss Mildred did a wonderful job of playing and she simply glowed as she enjoyed ministering to us through her musical talent.

• In April I was asked to present a short workshop on “The Intersection of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Diversity and the Aging Population” at the Carol Woods Retirement Community in Chapel Hill, NC. Both the center staff as well as the residents were invited. The session was well attended and both the staff and the residents voiced a desire to welcome and being sensitive to aging same-gender couples who may want to live there. So often same-gender aging couples are invisible or treated poorly at retirement centers. Carol Woods is doing an excellent job welcoming LGBT seniors and even placed an ad in a recent issue of QNotes, North Carolina’s LGBT bi-weekly paper.

• While working with a project of the NC Justice Center (The NC Families Care Campaign), which works across business, religious, healthcare and other communities to advocate for earn paid sick days for all NC workers, Suzanne LaFollette-Black, NC’s Associate State Director of AARP (An Ally for Real Possibilities), spoke about how family issues also hit the more mature people in the workforce who are often sandwiched between caring for teen or grandchildren, and aging parents. She shared several useful resources from AARP. (Several links to be added into part 3)

For the first time, as mature workers stay on the job longer, there are four generations in the work place. In 2002, 14% of the workforce was 55 and older, in 2012 that rose to 19%! While there is now a decrease in the workforce aged 24 – 44, the highest growth rate is among 45 – 54 year olds. Over 50% of workers 45 – 70 state that they plan to work into their 70s. An article in the May 2013 of the the May SHRM (Society of Human Resource Mgt) HR magazine highlighted the growing trend of women to work well into their 60s and beyond.

Several factors such as better health and low returns on retirement investment accounts are contributing to people working longer. And last year I was featured in an articles about the fastest growing area of new entrepreneurs being the 55 – 65 age group (link to article) and about ideal second careers for retiring baby boomers (link to second article.)

In Part 2, I will further explore the intersection of LGBT and Aging Diversity, and in Part 3 I will expound on ways companies can benefit from older employees, some things they can do and also the importance of succession planning as older employees do actually retire. I will also add several links to useful resources.