The challenges faced by HR professionals to fully include and support the trans community is complex, to say the least. The LGBT support networks across the country already face difficulties themselves and they are ‘in-the-thick-of-it. So for those in the professional people arena, it must be a minefield.
Writing a policy with the words diversity, inclusion or equality or any other words are just that… words unless action is taken –it needs to be backed up with serious positive action. I recently spoke at the Countess of Chester Hospital where I said those exact words and to a person (full of HR professionals & CEO’s) they all 100% agreed and nodded.
To fully include transgender…
There needs to be a mindset shift and behavioral change. It is very easy to assume you are well placed to employ the next transgender M2F or F2M but without the right systems in place, you are heading for difficulties.
I find that many companies do not know how to deal with transitioning employees. There seems to be little in place to manage the process from both the welfare of the employee and the welfare of the rest of the workforce. Let’s face it, the change for the team also has its challenges as well as for the employee in question; the balance must be considered in its entirety.
To compound this, I find many companies cannot even give me a reasonable explanation of how they would go about the process of integration of either this employee or a brand new employee. Indeed a recent conversation with a ‘quite large’ business responded “well we will cross that bridge when we come to it”
I have a strong believe (and it is just my belief) that employers would rather not employ a transgender person because of the challenges it brings to the team. The potential imbalance, the possible transphobic issues that might arise, the aggressive nature of clients or the ‘possible’ loss of business because their new employee has a deeper voice than ‘normal’ or maybe isn’t ‘as pretty’ (controversial I know).
This attitude toward the transgender population (especially M2F) is why unemployment rates are faring higher for these individuals. Indeed I am faced with unemployment right now and do not expect my path to a job to be an easy one from now on. As a speaker, author, networker and successful retailer you would expect a more positive comment, however, I have been on the receiving end of many difficulties.
When a person comes out as transgender it has to be remembered that this is not the start of the journey. The journey may have started 10, 20 maybe 30 years ago – it was 40 years for me. Many if not most transgender, have been through a good deal of mental health issues (me included) and often companies have no idea how to deal with this. I speak to companies on this subject and work hard to help educate and create a vibrancy of learning.
I suffer from a bipolar personality and also just pulled myself out of a depressing suicidal period of some 3 years. Throughout this, I received absolutely no support from any company, nor was I approached to help me through the crisis. Companies have a duty of care and to help individuals to cope with the turmoil.
You see here is the thing…
I am the same person in my mind as I was before 2014. The difference now is that I look totally different. My blood is red and O- now & my blood was red and O- before. My brain is the same one I had before I made the change. BUT my personality and outlook is new and ALIVE
My desires have changed and my dreams and mission too.
Before 2014 I was more than happy to watch the world go by and to be fair life was pretty easy. Since 2014 I have done so many things I otherwise wouldn’t have and life has been so very hard. However, I would not have it any other way. Since transitioning I have written a number one best-selling book, I have built a great network on LinkedIn and spoken all over the country about D&I, transgender and resilience. Things I never could have imagined before.
If you want to understand transgender and how to integrate into your company – speak to a transgender person and ask them.