Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace:  Providing Support to Your Transgender Colleague

The most essential thing to remember when it comes to putting your transgender coworker’s needs first is that everyone is unique. Productivity in the office is strongly influenced by the interpersonal relationships of staff members; therefore, you should strive to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for your transgender coworker by being not only their colleague but also their ally. An ally is someone who tries proactively to provide a safe work environment for transgender individuals.

Being a straight ally to your transgender colleagues entails being open to discussions about gender policy, as well as being prepared to accept constructive feedback and unlearn inappropriate behaviours. Besides, it entails conducting your research and not relying solely on your transgender colleague to teach you the rules of an inclusive community. All of the above-mentioned actions imply that you are prepared to defend your transgender friends and coworkers when their fundamental human rights are violated or ignored.

One-on-one communication is essential. Make contact with your coworker, and inquire about how you can assist them but make sure you do not appear overbearing.

Remember that everyone has the right to be treated with respect at work.  For example, you have the freedom to religious expression, which encompasses your dressing manner, how much time you spend away from work, and what you eat on a special occasion. Your transgender coworker has the same right to self-expression as you. That implies you must use their proper names and pronouns. It is a sign of respect to use a person’s right name and pronouns. Names are unique to each individual and serve as a means of expressing one’s individuality.

When someone calls you by the wrong name, it suggests they do not care enough to recognize the true you. It is also insulting to use someone’s pre-transition or dead name, just as it is disrespectful to keep calling you by a nickname you do not like, to mispronounce your job title, or to be informed that someone could not be bothered to learn the exact pronunciation of your name.

When you address your coworker using their previous names or misuse their pronouns, you are expressing that you do not appreciate them as an individual, which will make your cooperation very complicated. You are free to believe anything you want about transgender individuals, but in the business environment, you must treat them with the same respect and decency that you expect to be treated with.

Finding vocabulary to define oneself is one of the most difficult challenges for transgender and non-binary people. The majority of the English language is based on a gender binary (e.g., he vs. she). Because not everyone identifies as a binary gender, they are uncomfortable using binary pronouns and begin using plural pronouns in the context of single pronouns to describe themselves.

“They” or “their” are more often used as single pronouns in English, than we believe. Even nowadays, an English speaker will often use singular they/them/their without hesitation. Consider explaining the situation of seeking professional assistance, such as going to the lawyer, barber, or dentist. If you heard someone say, “I went to the dentist.” An English speaker would usually use the plural pronoun “they” in response, by asking you questions, “What was their recommendation? What advice did they give you?”  Since most English speakers already use the singular “they” pronoun regularly, so there is no reason not to use it for your non-binary colleague as well.

The pronouns are intended to be gender-neutral and eliminate gender preconceptions linked with words. These pronouns continue to adhere to stringent and traditional English grammatical norms. Accepting gender-neutral pronouns just makes English more respectful of our reality. It is vital to understand other people’s pronouns and vocabulary to be a good ally. When you use the right name and pronouns for another person, you show that you fully respect them for being who they are.

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