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Supporting your employees who are transitioning their gender

Supporting your employees who are transitioning their gender

March 21, 2023

We often talk on these blogs about issues that managers face in the workplace that didn’t get spoken about say 20 or 30 years ago.

This has included mental health awareness, supporting the employees following long COVID, or stress at work. We weren’t taught how to support a colleague effectively with any of above when we first trained as managers.

Another area that we see increasingly in the workplace is supporting colleagues who are transitioning their gender or are non-binary.

What does the law say?

The legislation covering transgender is Equality Act 2010 (legislation.gov.uk) It currently only discusses gender reassignment but the subject is much greater than this and there is no doubt that a transitioning employee or a non binary employee has a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

Section 7 confirms: Gender reassignment

(1) A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.

(2) A reference to a transsexual person is a reference to a person who has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.

(3) In relation to the protected characteristic of gender reassignment—

(a) a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a transsexual person;

(b) a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to transsexual persons.

So what does this mean in practice?

  • Direct and indirect discrimination because of gender and harassment related to gender is unlawful.
  • Employees are also protected from less favourable treatment connected with absences because of gender reassignment.

How can Early Years settings promote inclusive workplaces?

Early Years and Childcaare employers should avoid discrimination against all transgender people and promote an inclusive workplace. They can work on this by considering the following:

  • Creating an inclusive working environment where everyone, regardless of their gender identity, feels welcome and motivated to perform to the best of their ability makes good business sense.
  • Ask the transitioning employee what support they would find helpful in their transitioning journey.
  • Discuss how they will feel when a colleague or parent makes a mistake and refers to them with not their chosen pronoun. If they will understand that mistakes may happen with a transitioning employee it will make it so much easier for all parties. We find fear of misgendering can lead to difficulties in the relationships and it need not be that way.
  • Discuss with the transitioning employee how the children will refer to them. You may have always used the term ‘Miss’ and second name for example. How will this now work if they are transitioning from female to male?
  • Visible commitment from senior management to creating an inclusive workplace for non-binary and transgender people helps to demonstrate that equal treatment and equity are core business values.
  • Employers should provide guidance for line managers on how to support an employee who is non-binary or who is proposing to transition, is transitioning or has transitioned.
  • Training and guidance for employees on gender identity and discrimination could help to minimise misunderstandings and encourage inclusive behaviour. This can be discussed at Supervision.
  • Always remember that information about an employee’s gender identity must be kept confidential.
  • Consider how you will refer to them in the workplace and how important paperwork will refer to their identity.
  • Consider how the parents will be informed of the employee’s decision to transition, if applicable.
  • Consider uniforms and name badges and how they support transitioning employees.

Finally…

Language around gender is consistently changing and therefore it is useful for smaller business leaders to remain mindful of this.

If you need any assistance when it comes to supporting your transgender employees do contact us on 01527 909436.

Here’s another blog that you may find useful…

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