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Transgender matter

I have an employee who is at the beginning of a gender transition from male to female. This is a 3 year process. She now wishes to be know as a female and wants to use the female toilets. She has also written an email that she wants to send to all staff on the company email. It is very personal in content and is excusing people for not understanding or disagreeing with her choice. I’m not sure this is appropriate to send as a company email and I’m concerned it may give people the ok to criticise. Has anyone had experience of this and if so can you advise how to handle it please?
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  • Hi J

    Are you aware of the advice on the Stonewall website?
    www.stonewall.org.uk/.../inclusive-policy-toolkit-part-4-trans-inclusion-policies

    On the whole, I think gossip is less likely to run wild if people are informed and I don't think it is a bad thing for your employee to indicate that she is willing to take part in a conversation. As we haven't seen the email, It's hard to know in this particular case how appropriate it is but I would think hard before I stopped someone communicating in their own choice of words. Maybe there is a conversation to be had about how much she is personal content she shares. You can go on to share more but you can't take things back if you overshare. However, that is my advice as a human being, not as an HR professional and I don't know if your relationship is such that you could talk to her on that basis.
  • In reply to Elizabeth Divver:

    Hi J

    I absolutely agree with Elizabeth that the individual needs to own her communication and if it's coming from her directly, then I can't see a problem.

    We had a similar experience last year and the individual, their line managers and I all worked together on a communication. The individual decided she preferred her line managers to send it out on her behalf but she came up with the wording and shared it with us and her managers were very happy to send it out for her. It got a very positive response from teams across the organisation. I've put it below to give you an idea of what we said but I can't emphasis strongly enough that these were the individual's own words, and that you should allow your employee to use her own words rather than using these as a template.

    Kind regards

    Jackie

    Dear all,

    We’ve been asked to make you aware of some important life changes happening for a member of our team. <Deadname> is transitioning from male to female and will be female presenting from now on. She will be changing names to <Newname> and would appreciate it if everyone could use her new name and female pronouns in the future.

    <Newname> understands that this might not be a familiar situation for some people, so she is happy to answer well-meaning questions. Please don’t worry about accidentally slipping up and using the wrong name and pronouns but please do make every effort to use the correct ones to and about <Newname> from now on. <Newname> really wants to stress to everyone that she doesn’t need or expect any special behaviour – she is still the same person, doing the same job in the same way.

    We’re sure you’ll join us in being delighted for <Newname> and treat her with the warmth and respect that we all pride ourselves on as <Organisation> colleagues.

    Kind regards

    <Line Managers names>
  • Hi J
    It sounds like you are supportive, which is a great start. I hope it's OK to offer a little feedback on some of the language in your post - this is intended as support, not criticism, because I am aware lots of HR practitioners may never have known someone who is trans (I'm not trans, but Chair an LGBT+ charity outside of work, and work as an EDI specialist).
    First up, the word "transgender" - I'd only use this if it's a word the employee uses to describe themself - many trans people prefer the word trans.
    As you will no doubt know, this employee is protected under the Equality Act, as she has the protected characteristic of "gender reassignment", this means you have a legal duty to ensure she isn't harassed or discriminated against because of that protected characteristic.
    It sounds like she has already planned out the whole of her transition, which is great (transition is different for every person, and different people will choose different paths - because of this, it's not a great idea to refer to how "complete" someone's transition is). Instead of saying "she now wishes" etc, it might be better to say, "she now presents as female and will be using the female toilets", as she doesn't actually need to ask for "permission".
    As Elizabeth has mentioned, the Stonewall guide is a fantastic resource. Jackie's email below is also really good.
    Emily