Transgender Day of Remembrance: Is your workplace inclusive?

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As society becomes more tolerant,  companies have to find ways to ensure all their staff feel safe and welcomed at work.

Research has found up to 60% of transgender workers experience employment discrimination, however many companies now include transgender or transsexual employees in their anti-discrimination policies, and now those policies are backed up by legislation.

Gender identity is linked to an individual’s intrinsic sense of self and, particularly the sense of being male or female.  Gender identity may or may not conform to a person's birth-assigned sex.

See also: Transgender employees protected under new Ontario human rights bill

From March this year, gender identity and gender expression are now included in the Ontario human rights bill. One of the biggest areas of concern for employers can be around bathrooms and changing rooms. In 2006 Bloomington, Indiana proved itself ahead of most other cities and regions in North America by issuing recommendations for reducing gender identity discrimination, including guidelines for restrooms, and dressing rooms.

Here’s what they suggest:
  • If you have single occupancy restrooms, designate them as unisex when possible.
     
  • If you don’t have a single occupancy restroom, and you have an employee who is transitioning to the other sex, consider giving the employee an “in use” sign to post on the restroom door while she or he is inside.
     
  • If people object to transgender individuals using “their” restrooms, provide educational opportunities to help explain why, for example, the male-to-female transgender person wants to use the women’s restroom and to help explain why women are objecting to this. An open discussion provides an opportunity to air and to resolve, any specific concerns.
     
  • Consider, if you don’t have accessible restrooms, installing a restroom that is accessible to people with disabilities and designating it as a unisex/accessible restroom. Such restrooms not only help people with disabilities and transgender people, but they also help families, such as a mother with a son who needs to use the restroom.
     
  • In dressing rooms or locker rooms, take steps to create private areas by installing curtains or cubicles.
 

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