How to Make Your Office a Safe Space for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming People
The average working American spends almost 2,000 hours a year working — 2,000 hours! Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for people to spend more time at the office than in their home. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why companies across the country have been trying to make office life as enjoyable as possible.
But a good office space is one that goes beyond free lunches or bonuses — it’s one that is a safe space and inclusive space for all. Often times, trans people are the most marginalized members of the LGBT community and can face discrimination in the workplace.
Make your workplace a great environment for everyone by:
1. Using the right language.
Even if you don’t have any trans employees (or you don’t think you have any trans employees), language matters. Referring to trans people in the media by their appropriate names, pronouns, and gender identity can play a major role in making your office an accepting place.
2. Not gender-labeling everything.
Take into account how many people are in your office — do you really need gendered bathrooms? While the answer may be yes, the answer could also be no. Many offices would benefit from having two gender-neutral bathrooms rather than one male and one female bathroom. If your bathrooms and other spaces are labeled, respect a trans person’s decision to use whichever they’re most comfortable with.
3. Not asking intrusive questions.
You would never walk up to a cisgender coworker and ask about their sex life, so don’t ask a transgender person if they’ve had “the surgery” or what kind of people they’re attracted to.
4. Always acting like trans people are already in the office.
While it’s possible you don’t have any trans people in your office, it’s also possible that you just don’t know someone in your office is trans. Coming out to people is always up to that person, but an environment that feels accepting of trans people might make it easier for someone to want to come out.
5. Not revolving every conversation around someone’s identity.
Being trans is just one part of what makes up that person. In addition to being trans, they may also be a great mother, father, employee, swimmer, musician… the list goes on and on.