How to support transgender employees

The 2010 Equality Act states that employers have a legal obligation to ensure their staff are not being discriminated against – over age, race, sexuality, gender or gender identity. Despite this, many companies treat transgender people as a disruptive influence in their workplace, worrying about how they will manage in a customer-facing role, or if they will upset existing employees. This is the wrong attitude; the first step to being an inclusive employer is accepting that a transgender person is just another employee with the same rights as any other member of staff.

Creating a supportive environment for transgender employees ultimately means allowing them to take the lead on expressing their gender identity. Unless someone tells you they are transgender, there is little need to raise this at an early stage of their time with your company. If you want to actively show support, you could say: ‘We have a strong equality policy and want to make sure everyone is treated fairly. Is there anything we could do to make sure this is the case for you?’ This will help encourage their wellbeing without you explicitly raising their gender identity – remember that you might not always know whether a person is transgender or not. Each transgender person is different: some consider themselves non-binary or intersex, and may wish to be referred to using different pronouns (he, she or they), which employers and colleagues should be mindful and respectful of.

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