Gender Identity & Transgender in the Workplace

By 7th August 2018 September 17th, 2018 Equality and Diversity, Human Resources

In 2014, Laverne Cox made history when she became the first transgender actor to be nominated for an Emmy. Cox plays Sophia Burset on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.”

In 2015, Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) made headlines after making her public debut on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.

Facebook now offer custom gender identities to include a variety of options such as “androgynous”.

Russell brand in an interview commented that he will raise his child ‘gender neutral’.

Generation Y has been dubbed the gender-fluid generation and Orange is the New Black star Ruby Rose and pop singer Miley Cyrus both identify in this way.

Gender Identity & Transgender Issues

Gender identity and transgender issues have become the focus of considerable attention in recent years, as both famous and ordinary people have shared their experiences and stories. Greater public awareness has followed. Even so, many employers find themselves unsure of how to navigate the shifting landscape.  Rea

Consider, for example, the manager who receives a complaint that a call centre employee addressed a client as “sir” and asked about the client’s “wife.” Both were offenses to the male-to-female transitioning individual.

Now consider the employee’s argument: the client had a male-sounding voice and a male-sounding name. The employee unfortunately made a reasonable assumption that turned out to be wrong.

How should the employer respond?

Perhaps you’re thinking none of this pertains to your organisation. And maybe it doesn’t yet.

Still, it makes sense to expand your knowledge of issues that impact your employee population and the laws under which your company must operate. The Equality Act 2010 prevents discrimination based on a “protected characteristic” i.e. sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation for example, and The Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows transsexuals to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate to legally change their gender.

A start is knowing the terminology of gender identity. Following are some core terms and definitions. Note, these are not absolute, but are part of an evolving discussion:

  • Gender. One’s internal sense of being male, female, neither or both. Gender can be the same or different from the sex assigned at birth.
  • Transgender. A person who lives as a gender other than the one assigned at birth. For example, a person assigned female at birth who lives as a man.
  • Gender fluid.A person with shifting gender identity who does not identify as fixed.
  • Transitioning. The process of changing one’s assigned birth gender to one’s preferred gender. Transitioning may include medical aspects (taking hormones), legal aspects (changing name) and/or social aspects (dressing in clothing traditionally associated with one’s gender identity but not associated with one’s gender assignment at birth).


Gender identity and transgender issues are uncharted territory for many employers. However, a focus on respect in the workplace as well as employee health and well-being will aid in preventing any missteps.  Find out more in this article from Personnel Today.

For a deeper conversation about how to approach gender identity at your organization contact us at HCHR today on the number below:

Gender Identity and Transgender




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