Not only is Pride a time of celebration for all sexual orientations and gender identities, but it also presents an opportunity to raise awareness around discrimination and violence, experienced at disproportionately high rates for transgender people of color.
Millennials, who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, are over two times more likely to identify as LGBTQ+ than previous generations. In addition, 12% of millennials identify as transgender or nonbinary. However, there is still significant work to be done to ensure a feeling of support and inclusion in the workplace.
While we acknowledge there is more work to be done, let’s take a closer look at a few ways we can all support our transgender and nonbinary colleagues at work right now:
1. Use inclusive language
Word choice matters. We acknowledge language is fluid and the list of terms here does not encompass the full range of identities of the global transgender community. Here are some key terms to understand:
- Gender: Gender refers to the traditional or stereotypical roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes a given society considers appropriate for men and women.
- Sex: Refers to the designation of a person at birth as either “male” or “female” based on their anatomy (e.g. reproductive organs) and/or their biology (e.g. hormones).
- Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from their sex assigned at birth. For example, you are assigned male at birth but identify as a woman.
- Cisgender: A person whose self-identity conforms with the gender assignment of their biological sex. For example, you are born male and identify as a man.
- Gender identity: A person’s innate, deeply-felt psychological identification as a man, woman, or any other gender.
- Sexual orientation: A term used to refer to who you’re attracted to and/or want to have romantic relationships with. Can be with the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or to both sexes or more than one gender identity.
- Gender expression: Gender expression refers to the external manifestation of a person’s gender identity, which may or may not conform to socially-defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.
- Gender diverse: A general term for individuals who do not identify with the traditional “male” and “female” categories; these individuals may see themselves as being both male and female, neither male nor female or as falling completely outside these categories.
- Transitioning: The process some transgender people go through to begin living as the gender with which they identify, rather than the sex assigned to them at birth. This may or may not include hormone therapy, sex affirmation surgery, and other medial procedures. The exact steps involved in transitioning varies from person to person.
- Nonbinary: Recognizes a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine and can exist outside of the (accepted cultural) gender binary.
- Gender Nonconforming (GNC): Denoting or relating to a person whose behavior or appearance does not conform to prevailing cultural and social expectations about what is appropriate to their gender.
2. Be mindful of pronouns
Be mindful of pronouns when referring to individuals. As a best practice, be sure to share your pronouns and ask others for their pronouns upon introduction, as opposed to assuming. In addition, when telling stories about someone in the past, be sure to use and respect their present self-identified name and pronouns.
As an anonymous member of Transgender and Gender Nonbinary subgroup of Outforce, our employee resource group (ERG) of allies in diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity, shares: “People often take mental shortcuts when deciding what pronouns to use. However, not everyone identifies the way that they look. Having my pronouns front and center in all of our systems reduces the burden of constantly having the pronoun conversation, and calling attention to my identity.”
3. Lead with respect and courtesy
“The best way to be an ally to a transgender or nonbinary colleague is to make yourself aware of their pronouns, identity, educate yourself through numerous resources, and respect it. As a trans individual, it can be very scary to call folks out for using the incorrect pronoun. A true ally is proactive, holds team leaders and colleagues accountable when they misgender someone and help to educate the team by insisting on diversity training,” said MK Underwood, Global Marketing Specialist, Quip and Outforce Womxn leader at Salesforce.
4. Offer gender-inclusive policies and benefits
Salesforce strives to build the most comprehensive and inclusive policies, benefits, and procedures. While they recognize there is much more to be done to support the community, some of the inclusive best practices they offer include:
- Gender identity and expression is a protected characteristic in our anti-discrimintaion and anti-harassment policies
- Inclusive healthcare coverage for transgender and gender-nonconforming employees, including fertility, surrogacy, adoption, parental leave, gender affirmation surgery options and more.
- Education on gender identity and expression, the issues affecting the transgender community, and how to demonstrate respect toward the community
- Comprehensive benefits coverage for transitioning employees for U.S. employees
- Use of appropriate name and pronouns
- Pronouns included in email signatures
- An option to add your pronouns on your business cards
- To regularly examine and update all existing documents, policies, and procedures to remove all gender-specific language
- Access to gender-neutral and/or single-stall restrooms
- Transgender and Gender Nonconforming and Queer Womxn employee resource group (ERG) subgroups
5. Continue to educate yourself
It is our privilege and responsibility as humans to continue to educate ourselves about the communities outside of our own. We are all on a learning journey and it is this exploration that strengthens our collective culture inside and outside of our company.
An important note: before going to a member of the community to ask them questions about their particular affinity group, do the work as an ally to educate yourself first.
Here are some resources to get you started: check out Trans Lifeline, National Center for Transgender Equality, GLAAD, Out & Equal, and the Human Rights Campaign (to name a few), read books written by LGBTQ+ authors, and watch movies by LGBTQ+ directors.
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