Employer FAQ

Freedom of Gender Expression

Basic definitions.

See http://www.tgender.net/taw/defn.html

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 EO policy.

See http://www.tgender.net/taw/tsmed/resources.html

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 a problem.

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 of gender?

EO policy

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.

Medical policy

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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