Hearing about this young man making allegations against his school is a stark reminder of how easy it can be to say or do the wrong thing in such a delicate situation as transitioning.

For those who are taking steps to identify as a different gender to that of their birth, it can be a lonely and challenging experience which is certainly a decision not taken lightly. But it is also often accompanied with a sense of relief and freedom.

For employers, the landscape and law may be unfamiliar. Even the terminology can be daunting (gender reassignment, transgender, transsexual, gender identity, non-binary, gender fluidity etc...). Issues such as uniform and bathroom access are key.  Although cases concerning transgender individuals are rare, it is clear from this story that potential misinformation, a lack of understanding or empathy can quickly escalate into litigation and publicity. 

Ensuring your workforce and managers understand the key terms and the basics of the law is a good start. To demonstrate true inclusiveness however, employers need to do much more, such as:

  • building LGBT employee networks
  • appointing senior executive sponsors who are accountable
  • reviewing policies and benefits, and 
  • being a public advocate for equality in the community.

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For a useful glossary: