20

So we hired her (hypothetically).

She just disclosed that she wants to transition her gender in the next few months. We are a small company, no LGBT office or anything.

Nobody has any experience with trans people, the general expection is, that her changing gender is not much of the companies business.

What kind of support do we need to give? What impact can it have on business? Anything else to consider?

  • An import question is where you are located. Different countries have different laws. – David K May 16 '18 at 15:18
  • 1
    @DavidK: I need to consider laws? Dang. I'm in Germany, but any western country would be interesting. – Christian May 16 '18 at 15:22
14

I personally have a lot of experience working with people who have transitioned on the job. There are a couple of things I recommend:

  1. Ask which gender pronouns this employee would like to use and help inform the other employees on this People not familiar with the trans community assume that they would use either female pronouns (she/her/hers) or male pronouns (he/him/his), but some people prefer gender neutral pronouns such as they/them/their. More on personal pronouns https://www.mypronouns.org/what-and-why.
  2. Ask which restroom they would like to use. They could prefer using a male, female or gender neutral restroom. If you do not offer gender neutral restrooms, the bathroom usage could be a point of legal contention. I would advise you to understand your country's law in protecting the rights of LGBT people.
  3. Ask if there is another name they would prefer to use. If a transgender person chooses to change their name, their previous name is known as their dead name. It can be very harmful for a transgender person to hear or to be referred to by their dead name.
  4. Ask them how you and the company can help communicate their wishes to the rest of the company. Take the time to educate other employees on how this person wants to be treated and how to be understanding around this person's transition.
8

To put things in obvious terms, ask her.

There's going to be a date at which she wants to consider herself as female, so respect that.

One day, he'll go into the gents toilets, and the next she'll go to the ladies.

As it's a small company, it shouldn't be too hard to get this simple idea across to people. Yes, there's going to be some transition for people getting their head around a change in gender, but the important thing is that it's the same person. Same experience, same skills, same knowledge. Nothing about his/her working practices should change apart from dress code and perhaps an email address (which happens anyway when women get married, so you have a process for that).

But ask. She's probably thought about this for a long time and has looked for advice on this and has her own idea on what will help her and you (as a company/colleagues) feel better about this transition.

2

What kind of support do we need to give?

If you have any friends that are part of the LGBT community, I would ask them for insight. Otherwise, treat this just like anyone else going through a significant medical procedure/process -- with dignity, respect, and humanity.

Even if you do now know someone who can offer insight, the LGBT community is normally very open to helping you understand what can be of help in a situation like this.

What impact can it have on business?

I don't see how this can impact the business any differently than any other medical situation. As a business you cannot have a single point of failure, so there should be backups to all positions just in case a situation like this happens.

Anything else to consider?

Again, I cannot emphasize the need to treat this person with respect enough. They are a human being and most likely don't want any special attention that isn't warranted by a medical procedure or process.

1

I would assume the normalities apply. You treat them with respect for their decisions and (as the now other answer states) ask them about formalities and approaches to it. It's not something that should be alienated either. If they feel uncomfortable because of people badgering them about it, you tell them to cut it out. Give them their space.

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