Transgender awareness – how to support a transitioning employee

Transgender awareness – how to support a transitioning employee

  • Date: Wednesday 27th July 2022
  • PDF: Download

This month we wanted to set out the process for supporting a transgender employee who has made the decision to transition. For employers with no experience of working with transgender employees there may be uncertainty about how best to proceed. But, if the situation is managed with sensitivity, support and ongoing, continuing communication, there can be positive outcomes for all parties.

Employers need to focus on providing ongoing support through the transition.

Each individual will have a unique transition process. It is important not to make assumptions about what an employee will need. Instead, employers should work with the individual to ensure that they have the support that is right for them.

Transitioning is a major decision and the individual may have taken years to come to this point. They may fear rejection or ridicule by their work colleagues, so it is vital that employers follow processes and show the support that will enable the individual to continue to work without fear or discrimination and harassment.

Once an employer is made aware by an employee that they will be starting, or have started, the process of transitioning an appropriate point of contact should be agreed with the employee. That contact person should work with the employee to develop a confidential action plan to manage the individual’s transition at work.

The action plan should consider the steps to take before, during and after the employee’s transition.

Crucially action should not be taken without the employee’s consent and the plan needs to be bespoke to the individual.

Some of the key issues to address will include:

  • when and how an individual will present at work in their affirmed gender
  • managing a request by the employee to change their job temporarily during the transition process or to move to a new role permanently
  • the point at which colleagues, especially the immediate team, will be informed and how this will be done
  • if and how third parties, such as clients, should be informed
  • how absence from work for reasons associated with transitioning (for example, for medical appointments and / or medical treatment) will be handled
  • arrangements for changing the individual’s name on their personnel records, email, security badges, etc.
  • confidentiality
  • dress codes and / or uniforms

Transitioning is a process that takes time so to help all parties it is important to hold regular review meetings throughout the process. This will ensure the right support is in place and enable the plan to be amended as things change.

Remember that effective support for someone who is transitioning will require ongoing communication, mutually agreed actions and mutual respect.

SSG have developed a transgender equality policy template which sets out how wider issues connected with transgender in the workplace can be managed and individuals supported. Please contact your SSG HR consultant if you would like a copy of the policy. Alternatively, your HR consultant can provide you with a copy of the policy at your next HR review.

Source: Gavin Parrott, SSG

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