A Transgender perspective on workplace diversity

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Today it is very common to see organisations say they are an LGBT friendly workplace and post about Pride.

However, no matter how accepting or LGBT friendly the workplace may say they are, there are always cracks within their inclusion, so their statements may not be seen as progressive by those in the LGBT community despite their best efforts.

When heteronormative or cisnormative people think of the LGBT community, their only reference point is typically that Gay guy they met in high school, or someone they met in passing.

When they hear about a Transgender person, all too often they don’t know the difference between a Trans man or a Trans woman, or what pronouns to use, and it simply becomes awkward.

Cisnormativity is something that is not discussed enough when workforces try to become more inclusive, because sexual orientation is generally easier to grasp then the aspect of gender identity.

The Transgender community generally chooses to either stay in the closet for their own safety or pretend to be cisgender to avoid the inevitable microaggressions that unfortunately follow because cisnormativity is so prevalent in so many workforces.

It is very important for organisations to understand that not all Transgender individuals are the same.

That not all Transgender individuals are open to justifying their identities to their bosses and colleagues or to explain why slipping up on pronouns is just not okay.

Wider society isn’t aware – for example – that bathrooms are a huge discussion for the Transgender community.

Or that there are many countries where it is illegal or becoming illegal for a Trans person to use the bathroom of their corresponding gender. Or how quickly anti-transgender legislation is being passed in places like America.

Cisgender people also very often start misgendering transgender people when they find out what their assigned gender at birth was. This is an aspect of unconscious transphobia, as when they find out that a trans man, for example, was born as a girl, they will then view him as a girl and start misgendering him, even though they had previously never known the individual as anything other than a man.

If an organisation wants to be more diverse and inclusive, they need to demonstrate that they are thoroughly educated on the aspects of inclusion.

A truly LGBT friendly organisation should make it clear that their workforce represents that diversity and there must be representation in the workforce of LGBT individuals within that organisation.

It is very easy for organisations to misuse representation and instead end up exploiting the individual as a means of benefitting the organisation, and not truly abiding to their word of diversity and inclusion.

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