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Transgender Employees and Applicants in the Workplace

Updating Authors: Julie DiMauro; XpertHR Editorial Team

Original Author: Shelagh Prosser


  • Employers should use appropriate terminology when referring to transgender individuals and related issues. See Terminology.
  • Gender identity and sexual orientation do not need to correlate. See Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.
  • Employment is a significant area of concern for transgender individuals due in large part to discrimination and harassment as well as a lack of awareness about transgender issues. Further, in a significant number of jurisdictions and companies, there are a lack of policies or law-based protections to draw upon. See Problems Experienced by Transgender Employees and Applicants.
  • An increasing number of individuals are identifying as transgender. Thus, it is wise for employers to be familiar with how to address gender identity and transgender status in the workplace. See Transgender Population in the United States.
  • Federal law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination against individuals based on gender identity or transgender status. A growing number of states and municipalities may provide transgender individuals with protection from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. See Legal Protections for Transgender Individuals.
  • It is critical for employers to create an inclusive working environment for transgender individuals. See Creating an Inclusive Workplace.
  • Support for transgender individuals in the workplace starts from the top because supervisors and employees will follow their lead. See Senior-Level Commitment.
  • Policies that are inclusive of transgender issues will demonstrate that the employer supports transgender individuals. See Policies.
  • It is important to train all supervisors and employees on the employer's zero-tolerance policy for discrimination based on transgender status or gender identity and to be sensitive and respectful regarding transgender issues in the workplace. See Training.
  • It is critical for employers to have measures in place to respond to complaints of discrimination and harassment based on gender identity and transgender status. See Handling Complaints Based on Gender Identity or Transgender Status.
  • Employers may want to consider putting together guidance for supervisors and employees on supporting an employee who is transitioning. See Guidance.
  • Employers should respect the privacy of transgender employees. See Confidentiality.
  • Employers could offer support to an employee who is transitioning. The employee and his or her supervisor may want to create a plan, outlining how the employer will support him or her. See Supporting an Employee Who Is Transitioning.
  • Employers should not discriminate against transgender individuals in the recruitment and hiring process. See Recruitment.
  • Employers should communicate to employees and third parties that the employer has a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination, bullying and harassment against transgender individuals. Employers should also have a process in place to enable employees to make confidential complaints about discrimination, bullying or harassment. See Bullying and Harassment.