Did you know that 2-5% of the population have some form of gender dysphoria?
What is gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is a clinical diagnosis describing an individual who feels strongly that they are not the gender they physically appear to be. The term dysphoria means dissatisfaction, anxiety or restlessness; those who identify with a gender other than their physical body experience all of this and more. Gender dysphoric people experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide.
What is transgender?
A transgender person is someone whose gender identity or expression differs from the conventional expectations of masculinity or femininity. As more research is conducted in our society, the term transgender is now an umbrella term that includes an array of identities and includes pre-operative, post-operative, and non-operative transsexual people. Being transgender is not a lifestyle, and is not reversible. Many transgender people deeply believe their gender identity is incorrect from as early as five years old.
Creating an inclusive workplace
The acceptance and support of transgender individuals is necessary for an inclusive workplace, and doesn’t end at offering a leave from work for surgery and recovery or to attend counselling. We should aim to foster an environment that embraces diversity. Fostering an inclusive environment for transgender individuals is important to all employees in order to create a workplace with enhanced awareness, tolerance and respect. When we create a dialogue about this issue, we raise awareness and reduce stigma, which will in turn create a psychologically safe and healthy workplace.
The creation of an inclusive environment for transgender individuals may be difficult for those who feel that this identity goes against their cultural or religious beliefs. However, no one is being asked to change their ingrained ideas, rather nurturing an environment of professionalism and respect is key to a healthy workplace. As Freade Kapor Klein states in Giving Notice: Why the Best and Brightest Leave the Workplace and How you Can Help Them to Stay: “Leadership is the most important element for change, and that includes fostering workplaces that have an inclusive culture and that enhance cross-cultural awareness and skills through communication, training, and education. This is the starting point for any meaningful change in creating fair workplaces.” Making workplaces a welcome environment for transgender employees benefits all, as we know that psychologically unsafe work environments can decrease work productivity. Moreover, having support for one’s transition at work can mitigate the loss of this productivity.
What can you do to be an industry leader?
With transgender stigma still existing, asking for support is difficult for employees who are afraid of losing their jobs or experiencing workplace discrimination. Studies indicate the key factors for creating positive mental health and well-being for transgender individuals include supportive workplaces and positive responses to their identity and transition. This is a time for managers to step in and have open conversations with co-workers, and allow the transgender individual to provide key input into the education and communication with the team. Shepell’s Workplace Learning Solutions Transgenderism Program is an important resource that can help your leadership team and the transgender employee better understand the situation and how to best manage workplace implications. Read more about program in our post, Transgenderism in the Workplace.
Additionally, we offer a wide range of training that helps organizations build a more diverse and inclusive environment to help employees thrive and succeed to their full potential. Our seminars and workshops promote diversity, such as Shepell’s Diversity in the Workplace, and our mental health workshops and sensitivity training provide a holistic approach to complex intercultural learning with our in-house clinical expertise.
Through a workplace learning consultation with one of our experts, you can learn more about diversity or other training sessions focused on mental health and workplace productivity. Equipped with training workshops, an environment that encourages supportive communication and regular dialogue with transgender employees, workplaces will have the tools needed to banish stigma and create a welcoming and productive atmosphere for all.