Diversity Training on Gender Identity and Gender Expression
Incorporate education about gender identity and gender expression in diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity compliance training programs.
To ensure compliance with employment policies, all employees should at a minimum have clear guidance regarding appropriate workplace behavior and the consequences of failing to comply with anti-discrimination policies that include gender identity.
Education and training about gender identity can take the form of small, informal discussions, modules that are incorporated into a larger diversity training curriculum, or full-fledged training and educational programs on transgender issues conducted by outside trainers and facilitators. Communication and diversity training regarding gender identity in the workplace should be comparable to other policy announcements and training initiatives. For instance, if an employer provides online harassment training that incorporates race and sex, it should also incorporate gender identity.
Supervisory employees should receive diversity training that includes clear examples of discrimination based on gender identity shortly after starting employment and on a regular basis thereafter (e.g.: every two years, as required by law for California-based employers). When an employee transitions at work, these expectations should be restated.
"Leadership is the most important element for change, and that includes fostering workplaces that have an inclusive culture and that enhance cross-cultural awareness and skills through communication, training, and education. This is the starting point for any meaningful change in creating fair workplaces."
— Freada Kapor Klein, Giving Notice: Why the Best and the Brightest Leave the Workplace and How You can Help Them Stay
When someone transitions on the job, in-person training with the employee's managers and colleagues who work directly with the transitioning employee is important. Here, management has an opportunity not only to provide education on transgender issues, but also to reiterate expectations of workplace fairness for all employees. Training should ideally be facilitated by someone who has strong experience with transgender issues and experience presenting these issues with employers. Although potentially illuminating, utilizing a therapist or other mental health care provider can unnecessarily stigmatize training efforts; similarly, utilizing a provider close to the transitioning employee might inadvertently invade the employee's privacy.
"Everyone transitions when a transsexual person comes out in the workplace. Transition is not just a practical process, but it is inherently an emotional and psychological process for everyone."
— Moonhawk River Stone
The extent of communication and training required will be different for the audience being trained. For example, it may be particularly important to emphasize to board members, as fiduciaries of an organization, how the policy change affects the firm's competitive advantage or mitigates risk. Meanwhile, employees who work on the same team or in the same unit as a transitioning colleague will require more background information about transgender issues and unambiguous instruction regarding how the policy will be implemented.