Best Practices for Trans-Friendly Workplace Policies

  1. Written policies
    • Have a workplace write anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy that explicitly include sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected categories.
    • Have clear policies that outline expected behavior and protocol concerning the categories below. 
    • Keep a Workplace Transition Plan that follows best practices.
    • Maintain a list of contacts who can answer questions related to the Workplace Transition Plan, records, and internal policies.
    • Introduce all workplace policies to every employee as part of onboarding.
  1. Workplace education
    • Employers should provide and encourage consistent workplace education on transgender issues, regardless of whether a workplace contains any out transgender employees. This will improve coverage of transgender issues as well as foster an environment where transgender employees feel safe. 
    • Whenever possible, this education should come from professional organizations that provide in-person, full-workplace training. Mandatory online programs are also acceptable if bringing in trained professionals is not feasible.
    • If necessary, additional education should be provided when transgender employees enter the workplace. However, general education already provided to employees should cover any topics that would become relevant upon an  out transgender employee entering the workplace.
    • LGBTQ and other underrepresented employees should not be asked to provide workplace education to their coworkers.
  1. LGBTQ issues coverage
    • LGBTQ and other underrepresented employees should not be expected to provide editorial guidance or sensitivity reads outside of the scope of their typical work.
    • LGBTQ employees should not be taken off any story on LGBTQ issues because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. That said, LGBTQ employees should not be automatically assigned stories on LGBTQ issues solely because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, if that is not what they were hired to cover. 
  1. Privacy
    • Employees have a right to decide whether and when to disclose and discuss their gender and identity.
    • Management, human resources, and other colleagues should not disclose or discuss an employee’s transgender status without obtaining prior consent.
    • Disclosing an employee’s transgender status can constitute a violation of medical privacy laws, such as HIPAA.
  1. Official records
    • All records should reflect an employee’s chosen name, rather than legal name, even if they have not changed their legal name—unless required by outside institutions (such as by payroll and bank records).
  1. Names and pronouns
    • Persistent misuse or refusal to use correct names and pronouns can legally constitute harassment; this should be noted in workplace anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies.
  1. Bylines and email signatures
    • Just as a newsroom would accommodate a reporter who married and changed their legal name, newsrooms should update bylines for transgender employees without requiring documentation. 
    • In newsrooms that use CMS systems that share stories between multiple partner sites, old bylines and user profiles may appear on other sites for which the employer does not have edit access. Appoint a manager or human resources employee to contact other outlets to request byline and profile updates for transgender employees. 
    • Do not require employees to disclose pronouns in places such as email signatures, business cards, or social accounts. Instead, provide all employees with a newsroom-wide, consistent format for including pronouns in relevant venues. Encourage cisgender employees to participate. 
  1. Outside harassment policies
    • All newsrooms should have policies and procedures for dealing with harassment directed toward reporters by readers. These policies should cover in-person, in-the-field incidents of harassment as well as online harassment. Those policies should specifically include trans journalists.
    • The Online Harassment Field Manual outlines best practices for general policies.
  1. Sex-segregated job assignments and workplace events
    • Employees should be classified according to their lived gender, not assigned sex at birth. 
    • Do not make assumptions about whether a transgender employee would be comfortable or uncomfortable attending and reporting on an event or community that separates groups by gender. Consult the employee. 
  1. Restrooms and locker rooms
    • It is best practice to have a single-use, gender-neutral restroom available to all employees.
    • Transgender employees should not be denied access to common restrooms or restricted to a single-use restroom.
    • Transgender employees should be allowed to use any restrooms and locker rooms that best correspond to their gender. 
  1. Dress codes
    • It is best practice to have a dress code that does not restrict manner of dress based on gender and identity.
    • Transgender employees have the right to follow the dress code most appropriate to their gender or gender expression. 
  1. Health insurance
    • Employers should seek employee medical insurance plans that include and cover transgender health care.
    • Transition-related care should be eligible for any workplace medical leave plans, both individual and state-mandated.

You can learn more about creating a trans friendly workplace from the Transgender Law Center’s Model Transgender Employment Policy.

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