Workplace Guidelines for Transgendered Employees

Guidelines for Supportive Coworkers

(this section contributed by the late Penni Ashe Matz)

Before the co-worker comes out

Probably more so for transsexuals and gender benders than for crossdressers, there will likely be signs of gender variance. The safest approach here is to avoid a direct query, as the individual may not be ready for such a direct approach. Many transgender people are sensitized to gender phobia; sometimes, this sensitization can enable transpeople to see gender phobia where none exists.

Try to create a safe space for the individual to begin the coming out process with you. Possible approaches include:

When the co-worker comes out

Feel free to ask questions.   Understand that the transgender individual is an expert on the subject, while you likely are just learning about it.   Be sensitive to the individual's preferences such as name, pronoun, etc.   At the same time, be aware that the transgender individual is likely to be sensitized to indicators of gender phobia, or discomfort in the individual's coworkers.

Many transgenders appreciate helpful tips on presentation -- make-up for transwomen, grooming and fashion advice for both transmen and transwomen.

A few key tips

There are a few miscellaneous tips for helping the transperson feel comfortable:

What's been provided here are merely first steps, and some may not be appropriate for you.   Subsequent steps of course will depend on your initial experiences and your own individual comfort levels.

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Back to Transgender at Work home page.

Copyright (c) 1999, 2001 by Mary Ann Horton. All rights reserved.