Transgender Visibility in the Workplace

by Beck Bailey

At a recent seminar on LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace, a man in his 60’s who works in human resources (HR) came up to me and shared that the first transgender person he ever met was on the job 34 years ago.

At a recent seminar on LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace, a man in his 60’s who works in human resources (HR) came up to me and shared that the first transgender person he ever met was on the job 34 years ago. The coworker wanted to transition and asked the HR department to help support the process. This was on an oil drilling platform. He noted:

“If we figured it out then - and there - certainly we can figure it out anywhere. I just don’t see what the fuss is. And, you know, she still works for us.”

Driven by the desire to attract, retain and engage the very best workforce, workplaces have facilitated successful on-the-job gender transitions for decades and continue to lead the way in creating inclusive workplaces for all, including transgender and gender non-conforming people. By committing to non-discrimination protections based on gender identity, equal benefits for transgender workers including coverage for transition-related care, and internal policies and practices that support transgender workers, America’s leading companies create the necessary foundation for transgender and gender non-conforming people to thrive at work.

HRC’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) tracks and guides the progress of America’s leading employers in creating equitable policies, practices and benefits for LGBTQ people. The 2017 CEI reveals the progress:

  • A full 82 percent of the Fortune 500 have gender identity protections enumerated in their non-discrimination policies and 96 percent of the entire CEI universe of businesses offer explicit gender identity non-discrimination protections in the U.S.
  • Fifty percent of the Fortune 500 and nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of the CEI universe of businesses offer transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage, up from zero in 2002 and over six times as many businesses as five years ago. With 136 new employers offering this coverage in the 2017 report, this represents the greatest increase in a single year of employers offering transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits.
  • Nearly four-hundred (387) major businesses have adopted gender transition guidelines for employees and their teams to establish best practices in transgender inclusion.

But this all starts with transgender people coming out and being visible. Transgender and gender non-conforming people suiting up and showing up as their authentic selves each and every day help advance transgender equality. Behind every policy change and discussion of transgender-inclusive benefits, there is an employee who saw a path to bringing their full self to work, an executive who could put a human face to the need for full equality and an ally who could proudly display a show of support for their transgender colleagues and friends.

Below are several personal stories and testimonies from transgender employees across the U.S. 

Hi! My name is Diane Hatley. I am a transgender woman living in middle Tennessee. I’m currently a successful career woman working in the field of engineering at a very supportive company. Like many trans persons, I endured hardship and difficulty to a certain extent early in my transition which began nearly 4 years ago. As my transition progresses I am finding more and more supportive friends and allies. My work place is so wonderful as there are so many great allies there. I am fortunate in that regard. The future is brighter and brighter as I am becoming my true long awaited self! I always think that it is best not to conceal and lead a life without bonds. Being out as my self has been so liberating and it feels as if I am finally alive at last. I’m more focused, happy and more persistent in everything that I do now. I am finally ME!!!