Embracing Transgender Employees in the Workplace

transgender-bathroom-600x321As schools across the US move forward to protect transgender students, we, as HR Practitioners, need to think proactively and take steps to begin preparing our workplaces for incorporating protections for our current and future transgender workers.

As employers of choice, we say we embrace diversity and strive to transform our cultures, which is true, however, what sets the “elite” employers apart from the rest is their desire to champion these efforts; to not wait until others have taken this leap, but rather to pioneer the change.

Regardless of how one feels about the morality of this issue, HR Practitioners are responsible for offering guidance to senior leadership.  So what do we tell them?

First, lets look at this from a legal perspective and use restrooms as the example.  From a legal standpoint, the law (as it reads at the time of this writing) states that a transgender person may use whichever restroom s/he feels most comfortable using.

Now from a moral/ethical perspective, we as HR practitioners are responsible treating all of our employees fairly, regardless.

From a safety perspective, the OSHA General Duty Clause requires employers to keep all employees safe from harm and all potential harm.  We must ensure that our transgender employees feel safe and if that means being creative in ways to support them we must do so.

Now, what do we tell the rest of our employees who are uncomfortable with this and are not willing to accept a transgender co-worker using a specific restroom?  Scientists say that because DNA doesn’t lie, no person can completely change their natural born gender.  Women are born with Y chromosomes and men with X and  Y and as such, no person can totally transform their gender.

People can make all of the external changes they choose but a total transformation will not occur.

What are your thoughts on this matter?   I would like to know how HR Practitioners around the nation are handling these situations.