Workplace Gender Transition Guidelines

A business or organization that includes “gender identity” in its non-discrimination policy should be prepared to manage a gender transition.

Institute protocols for gender transitions that clearly delineate responsibilities and expectations of transitioning employees, their supervisors, colleagues and other staff. Should an employee approach their manager or human resources with the intention to transition, be prepared by having gender transition guidelines on file. These guidelines can be in the form of an informal or formal document that is available to all human resources professionals as a resource to consistently and appropriately manage the situation and helps human resources feel adequately prepared.

Workplace transition guidelines should be flexible enough to tailor to specific needs of a transitioning employee, while specific enough to provide a consistent framework that eliminates confusion and potential mismanagement. For example, one employee may prefer a quick start in which all his/her co-workers and peers are informed about the transition at the end of the work week, and comes to work the following week presenting in the new/desired gender role. Another employee may prefer a more gradual transition, in which colleagues are notified of the transition plan, but the employee does not actually present in the new gender role for several weeks. However, in both cases, the same designated contact in human resources is responsible for helping each transitioning employee and the employee’s supervisor manage the workplace transition process.

“In the absence of a [gender transition plan]… managers don’t know what to do, and that can lead to grievances and lawsuits.”
— Dr. Jillian Todd Weiss, workplace diversity consultant and author of
Transgender Workplace Diversity and the blog

What Guidelines Should Cover

Guidelines should address:

The following are examples of gender transition guidelines that can be implemented by businesses:

Where to Make Guidelines Available

Guidelines should be made accessible for employees, supervisors and human resources professionals as needed. They can be shared via:

Senior Sponsor

When announcing an employee’s plan to transition, utilizing senior management can send a strong message of support for the transitioning employee and set the tone for the business’ expectations of staff going forward. Some employers assign a senior executive to act as a “sponsor” for the transitioning employee to help communicate top-down inclusive messages and expectations. Managers and Human Resources should reiterate these messages regularly and when needed. The desire to minimize disruption from the day-to-day routine and send the message that business will continue “as usual” should be carefully balanced with coworkers’ educational needs.

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