Won't it cost a lot to pay the surgery cost of transsexuals?
No! Only 1 in 30,000 people will pursue transsexual surgery.
At a total average lifetime cost of about $25,000, the average cost is
less than a dollar per employee, lifetime. We estimate an annual
cost of about 18 cents per person if you choose to offer this medical coverage.
Most insurance policies routinely exclude this coverage. We believe
it should be covered like any other medically necessary procedure, but
this is a decision to be made by each employer, and is independent of the
Won't some religious organizations boycott my company if we hire transsexuals?
These boycotts have been tried against gay-friendly companies, but they
have little or no impact on the business being targetted. Boycotts
against Disney, or against American Airlines, have not hurt either company.
No religion has ever boycotted a company for being gender-friendly.
The Bible does not prohibit changing one's sex or wearing comfortable clothing.
Religious rhetoric is usually based on the mistaken assumption that transgender
people are seeking an excuse to be homosexual, and that it's wrong to be
homosexual. In reality, transgender people may be gay or straight
and are often celebate. And of course, most companies already realize
that it's wrong to discriminate against gay, lesbian, or bisexual people.
What about my other employees? Won't they be offended?
One or two percent might be offended by anything new in the workplace.
When women were first employeed, a few people objected. When black
people began to work in traditionally white workplaces, there were objections.
When gays were able to work openly, a few people objected, but by then,
diversity has become expected in the workplace. Employers who have
supported gender variance have found that, after a day or two, the novelty
wears off and the workplace returns to the routine.
Won't my customers be offended?
Employees in a position to interact with the public, or with customers,
are usually subject to a stricter dress code than employees who work behind
the scenes. However, we have found that transitioned transsexuals
who work with the public (such as airline counter agents or retail salespersons
in a clothing store) have done very well in their jobs. Fear of customer
complaints evaporates quickly because the customers don't have a problem.
Most of them don't even notice.
Won't I have a restroom issue?
This issue often comes up, but it's easily resolved. As long as management
works with the employee to establish a locally appropriate policy, and
makes this policy clear to anyone expressing a concern, it shouldn't be
Policies must ensure that all employees have a convenient, safe, and
dignified restroom to use whenever necessary. Since restrooms are
private places, usually with private stalls, privacy is assured.
A typical local policy notes the nearest restroom to the employee (matching
their new gender role) and suggests the employee will use that restroom
when they are near it. Any employee who is uncomfortable sharing
the restroom is free to use any other restroom.
In practice, after a few weeks, the fears evaporate as everyone sees
the employee is using the restroom just like everyone else, and people
stop worrying about it. Restrictions can then be dropped and the
employee uses any restroom matching their gender presentation, just like
everyone else. In any case, after the gender marker on drivers license
is changed, or after surgery, there is no issue, the employee has the legal
right to use the gender-appropriate restroom.
What should employers do to ensure equality for all employees, regardless
Amend your corporate Equal Opportunity or Diversity or Affirmative Action
nondiscrimination policy to include gender variance language. There
are many possible ways to word it. We recommend, where it says "sexual
orientation", change it to read "sexual orientation, gender identity, characteristics
or expression." This will add gender identity, gender characteristics,
and gender expression to your policy. These terms are defined above.
Ensure that any medical benefit plans that your company offers, especially
company-designed plans, do not exclude transsexuals from medical coverage.
If you have exclusionary language, delete it. Establish a written
policy that you will cover the mental health, medical, pharmaceutical,
and surgical needs of transgender employees, when the employee follows
the accepted standards of the medical community. (These standards
are called the
Harry Benjamin Standards of Care.)
Support your ERG
You probably have a strong corporate committment to Diversity. This
often includes Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs, of employees supporting
the needs of minorities. You probably have ERGs for African Americans,
for women, and for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) people.
These organizations will be most effective if they are strongly supported
by the company. Give them official recognition. Encourage them
to meet. Permit them to use company resources, such as meeting rooms,
e-mail, and copiers.
If you have ERGs but don't have a GLBT ERG, consider forming one, or
recognizing an informal group that can become an official ERG. If
your ERG is GLB or GL but does not include transgender and bisexual in
its mission, encourage them to be inclusive.
It has been often stated that the three most important workplace issues
for GLBT employees are "Education, Education, and Education."
The more you and your management and employees learn about GLBT
people and GLBT issues, the better they will integrate with your company.
Often people who have heard only stereotypes sometimes think that people
choose their orientation, or that gay employees will be having orgies in
the company restroom, or that transsexuals will show up to work dressed
like prostitutes. These false stereotypes will vanish after learning
about real GLBT people.
By meeting real people, learning their stories, seeing that they look
and dress like everybody else, your company will understand how and why
GLBT people came to understand their differences, that these people want
to fit in and contribute to your business just like every other employee,
without having to waste energy hiding a big part of who they are.
Education can take the form of one-on-one discussions, noon-hour
talks and programs, or suitcased
classes. Use whatever tools are appropriate for your business,
but make an effort to learn and to ensure that those in your organization
who need to know are also appropriately educated. In general, you
will want to educate HR, policy-setting management, the management of any
transgender employees who come out at work, and their immediate coworkers.
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