There’s increasing scientific and medical understanding that gender identity is much more complicated than a binary system and gender expression is a largely social construct.
Unfortunately, not everybody has gotten the memo. Transphobia and gender identity or expression discrimination are still incredibly common in many workplaces.
What does this kind of discrimination look like?
You can’t fight something if you don’t know what it is, so here are a few examples of what trans folk, nonbinary people and those with atypical gender presentations have to endure:
- Denied employment opportunities: Some employers refuse to hire, promote, or provide training opportunities to individuals who identify as transgender, non-binary or gender-nonconforming. You may find your interview over as soon as you walk through the door as you’re informed that you don’t fit the “company culture.”
- Coded language that is designed to enforce gender conformity: You may hear something like, “concerns about customer perceptions” and “workplace dynamics” as code for “your way of expressing your gender isn’t acceptable to us.” Then, you’re asked to dress “more masculine” or “more feminine” to suit somebody’s ideas of what’s proper.
- Unequal treatment: You might be denied the same benefits or compensation as other employees, such as when an employer refuses to cover transition-related expenses for transgender employees, while other employees receive coverage for their healthcare needs.
- Harassment: When an employee is subjected to derogatory comments, slurs, threats or cutting “jokes” because of their gender identity or expression, that can create a hostile work environment. For instance, an employee might be bullied by coworkers or superiors for using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.
These are just a few examples of gender identity discrimination in the workplace. Employees need to know their rights and speak up when they experience workplace discrimination. Experienced legal guidance can help you learn more.