How to get your business prepared for trans* employees transitioning in the workplace?

Guest blog Lou Goodman, Marketing Director, UK & Ireland at

The current legal process for a transition is a very complex issue for all parties involved and can be off-putting for trans* people who want to be legally recognised in their new gender. The existing Gender Recognition Act was first introduced in 2004 and requires certain criteria to be met, such as they must have lived in their chosen gender for two years and had a gender dysphoria diagnosis. The government has realised this process is longout dated and will be introducing a new GRA that aims to streamline and de-medicalise the process.
Whilst this is being finalised by the government here are some key things you can do in order to make everyone’s lives better when employees do transition:
Respect dead naming

Whether intentional or not, referring to a transgender employee by their name or pronoun they used before they transitioned is called dead naming. Therefore,it is important to establish early on with the employee who is undergoing a transition if they are planning to change their name and what pronoun they will be using going forward. Pronouns used correctly are one of the easiest ways to show respect for someone’s identity, but also one of the easiest ways to cause offence when used incorrectly. You should also discuss with the employee how you wish to notify fellow colleagues of these changes and the right time they want to do this, whether at the beginning of their transition or at the end. Of course be prepared for mistakes in the early days, however persistent miss-gendering can be viewed as harassment of the employee, then this issue would need to be escalated. 
Anticipated absences

When having the initial conversation with your employee about their transition it is important to discuss the anticipated absences that may take place from the transition. This will vary with each situation, as the nature of the transition will determine the frequency and length of their absences. Indeed where possible and if the employee is happy, let fellow team members aware of these upcoming absences so there is as minimal disruption to the team as possible. This will also make the employee undergoing the transition far more comfortable about having the time off and not placing an unexpected burden on the rest of their team. 
Keeping other co-workers in mind

It is important to think about the questions and reactions that may come from other co-workers during the transitioning period. Ensure to reiterate to fellow co-workers that this won’t change anything within the company. Although many employees want to be supportive of an individual in transition, some may be offended by the idea of transition and others might just have questions they’re afraid to ask.
The most common question likely to be raised by co-workers is around bathrooms and changing rooms.  This is a tricky area for businesses but advice from Stonewall suggests that the employees undergoing transition should be free to use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, and this should be clearly explained to the fellow co-workers. It may be worth compiling a document of FAQs that other employees are likely to have with clear answers to avoid any confusion. Stonewall have produced a great guideline on this to use as a starting point for your business. You can find the guideline here
Ensure your guidelines are up to date

Employers should examine their current policies ensuring that gender identity and gender expression are covered in their policies. HR should also make sure that its equal employment policies protect gender identity. Policies that businesses should review in light of this news are:

  • Dress Code Policy
  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives
  • Recruitment and selection processes

Author: Editorial Team

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