Dealing With The Transgendered Employee

There is a growing awareness and visibility of transgendered (TG) people. Transgendered people are those who cross the gender lines that define what a man is or what a woman is, often living in a gender role that is not typical for their sex, such as a woman who was born male or a man who was born female. Transgendered people have been a part of all recorded cultures, often being valued for their insight into our continuous common humanity.

This flyer will give you some notes on dealing with transgendered people on your staff. You may notice that all of these tips will work with any staff member, because dealing with a transgendered person is the same as dealing with any other human.

1) Accept the Transgendered Employee as a unique individual

While avoiding stereotypes and accepting each person's unique history and skills is important for everyone, it is especially important for transgendered people. Born with a predilection to be transgendered, they have chosen to follow a very individual path, overcoming the challenges that society puts in their way. This means that they are a very strong person, and often a very creative person who has come to a good understanding of their talents and their flaws.

There is no simple template for transgendered people and each one created their own unique life, which you can be sure was not boring. This range of skills and experiences can be a value in the workplace, bringing in new perspectives, and the courage and persistence it takes to transition between gender roles can indicate a self starter who can show persistence and committment in pursuit of a goal.

2) The 10 minute equation

Most transgendered people work hard to present well, but their physical appearance and history may be slightly different than most people of their gender.

Talk to the person for 10 minutes, focusing on the conversation, and you will usually find that any discomfort goes away, as you focus on the rich and vibrant human spirit in front of you. You will find areas of shared ground, because transgendered people share a wide range of the human experience with everyone. You may even gain new insights by seeing though their experienced eyes.

3) Humor & Honesty

Transgender is not a disease, simply a reflection of the way some people are born. Transgendered people have learned to be open and forthright, facing issues head-on, to understand the discomfort of others and to ease it, often with humor. They have worked hard to find their own center.

Be honest and open, forthright but not judgemental with transgendered people, both in your questions & concerns and in your efforts to understand their challenges. This open communication can be effective and help make both the workplace and the employee more productive.

4) Understanding appropriateness

Because Transgendered people were not trained for their gender in the same way as most people, their may be flaws and gaps in their presentation. Like anyone who is learning something new, sincere and honest feedback about ways to be more effective in presentation and in other ways of communication can help you get even more value from any staff member.

5) Honor the process

In business, we know that the only constant is change. Transgendered people are uniquely qualified to help in the process of change, as they have managed dramatic change in their own lives, facing and overcoming challenges. The investment you make in accepting their unique talents can be returned in the added creativity and energy that transgendered people, who have worked hard to achieve their own full potential, can bring to your business.

As each of us honors the process of change and of becoming the best we can be, even if that requires crossing some boundaries, we encourage growth in our organizations and in ourselves.


Each transgendered person embodies a wide range of diversity. They bring the benefits of their own journey, including a wide range of skills and experiences, with them everyday. By working to support the efforts of transgendered people in your organization, you can help add innovative new skills, flexibility, and energy to your workplace and your products & services.

Embracing diverse viewpoints allows organizations to stay diverse, active alive and growing.

Copyright 1996 Callan Williams May be copied and distributed without change.