Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Get Ready for Trans Employees: Trans Sensitivity Training Is an Essential Addition to Antidiscrimination Policies

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Get Ready for Trans Employees: Trans Sensitivity Training Is an Essential Addition to Antidiscrimination Policies

Article excerpt

With a long history of diversity trainers, corporations have done well addressing the needs of gay and lesbian workers. But, in its 2016 report Injustice at Every Turn, The National Center for Transgender Equality found that 90 percent of the 6,450 transgender and gender-nonconforming people surveyed reported "experiencing harassment or mistreatment on the job or took actions to avoid it." In fact, 47 percent reported being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion because of their gender identity.

Efforts to address employment discrimination against trans and gender variant people have been going on for decades. Lucent established one of the earliest workplace nondiscrimination policies in 1997 in response to efforts by employee Mary Ann Horton, who told Fortune magazine in 2015, "Once a Fortune 500 pledged not to discriminate, I thought maybe some other companies might want to do that, too. So I started waving the flag in the trans community, encouraging others to bring it up."

More companies, including Apple and American Airlines, followed suit in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but the trend really took off with the Human Rights Campaign's introduction of its Corporate Equality Index in 2002. Within six years, HRC had begun pushing corporations to add trans-supportive policies (including trans-inclusive health insurance) and by 2017, 92 percent of the companies on the index provided employment protections on the basis of gender identity and 73 percent offered trans-inclusive health coverage. Studies suggest such inclusive policies make sense not only socially, but also fiscally.

Of course, making a company transfriendly takes more than simply establishing nondiscriminatory policies. "There can be a significant gulf between policy, expectations, and behavior," says Luca Maurer, who coauthored The Teaching Transgender Toolkit: A Facilitator's Guide to Increasing Knowledge, Decreasing Prqudice, and Building Skills, with Dr. Eli R. Green, founder of the Transgender Training Institute. "In order to successfully recruit and retain quality transgender employees, and to assure they are treated with dignity and respect." Maurer says statistics "demonstrate that this is not currendy happening for the vast majority of transgender people in the workplace. …

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