An Equal Opportunity statement of nondiscrimination and nonharassment of Transgender employees is vital. Most transgender employees are afraid to come out, in fear they will be fired or harassed if their transgender status becomes known. Many people have been fired for being transgender, fueling this fear.
It is not sufficient to merely protect "sexual orientation." This language protects who you love, but it fails to protect what you look like, how you act, or how you dress. Such characteristics fall under the category of "gender expression."
Other organizations use the term "gender identity." This language
may protect only transsexuals and not protect crossdressers, feminine men,
or masculine women. "Gender expression" is a more inclusive term, protecting
what you look like, how you act, and how you dress. "Gender characteristics"
protects biological attributes such as body shape, chromomsomes, voice
pitch, and body hair. If only one of these three terms must be chosen,
we recommend "gender expression" because it protects that which is most
visible to other people, and thus what is most likely to trigger discrimination.
This table summarizes who is protected by the various terms:
|Language / Who is covered||Sexual Orientation||Gender Identity||Gender Expression||Gender Characteristics||Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression||Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Characteristics, or Expression|
|Straight appearing gays and lesbians||covered||not covered||not covered||not covered||covered||covered|
|Gender variant gays and lesbians||not covered||not covered||covered||not covered||covered||covered|
|Gender variant heterosexuals||not covered||not covered||covered||not covered||covered||covered|
|Crossdressers||not covered||not covered||covered||not covered||covered||covered|
|Transsexuals||not covered||covered||unclear||not covered||covered||covered|
|Intersexuals||not covered||not covered||covered||covered||covered||covered|
With a suitable definition, any term can be used. This approach was taken by the City of West Hollywood, CA. The Ordinance added gender identity as a protected category for provisions prohibiting discrimination. Gender Identity is defined as: "Gender Identity refers to a person's actual or perceived sex, and includes a person's identity, appearance, or behavior, whether or not that identity, appearance, or behavior is different from the traditionally associated with the person's sex at birth."
The consenses in the Intersexual community is that, for workplace nondiscrimination purposes, "gender expression" is sufficient to protect intersexuals. For this reason, we are not stressing the inclusion of the "gender characteristics" language.
In some situations, there are obstacles to including plain trans-inclusive language in a nondiscrimination policy. In this situation, an indirect method can have the same effect without the visibility of explicit language. With a suitable definition, any term can be used to forbid discrimination. Two approaches sometimes used are to define sexual orientation to include gender variance, or to define gender to be more inclusive than just being another word for sex For more information and examples, see our language alternatives page.