When an employee decides to transition to a different gender, the change’s success in the workplace begins with management and organizational support. Management must determine how the situation will be handled and address concerns promptly.
The gender transition process is often gradual for both the individual and the organization. A transitioning employee will often notify management of their intent to transition prior to any medical procedure or other major milestone, such as changing their name. Some may opt to come out as non-binary or genderfluid prior to transitioning to another gender. When the person reveals their plans, they may disclose legitimate fears about past or future sexual harassment.
When an employee informs a manager that they are transitioning, it is important that management become part of the workplace planning process. Together, the employee and the manager can:
- Determine a timeline for the transition
- Plan solutions for common issues, such as restroom use and updates to company records
- Involve other parties, such as LifeMatters or experts in the field, to ensure the process is handled with care
The highest-level manager on site should make the announcement to other employees. Management should verbalize support of the employee, including that they are a valuable member of the team. At this time, the manager should also:
- Explain the company’s policy and recommendations
- Note the date the transition will take place
- Announce the employee’s new name and pronouns
- Address the organization’s strategy for dealing with sexual harassment
- Provide education on the subject and prepare for questions from other employees
Making it Official
Prior to the day of the transition, the manager should make arrangements to ensure that the employee’s next paycheck is issued in their new name.
On the day of the transition, the employee should:
- Be issued a new company identification badge with their new name and photo
- Switch to an updated email, computer handle, or account identification
- Receive a new name tag for their door, desk, or cubicle
Organizational charts, mailing lists and other personnel data referencing the person’s previous name (or “dead name”), pronouns, and gender must also be changed and updated in the Human Resources Department’s database.
Unless prohibited by local law, the employee should use the restroom that is consistent with their gender identity. If a business uses a public restroom that is not under the direct control of the organization, the matter should be discussed with the landlord. For shower facilities or communal disrobing areas, accommodations will be necessary. Include the transitioning person in the discussion and make sure they are comfortable with the decision.
A transgender person’s transition must happen at their own pace. It is important to avoid rushing or pushing them into any decisions. You can ensure that their transition is a success at work by providing a supportive, respectful environment where they feel safe to be themselves.