6 Ways to Celebrate Your Transgender Peers and Make Them Feel Seen

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 27, 2024 at 1:37PM UTC

March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility. This annual event honors, recognizes and celebrates the achievements of transgender individuals, while also raising awareness about the struggles and discrimination transgender people continue to face every day.

“Transgender Day of Visibility recognizes the generations of struggle, activism, and courage that have brought our country closer to full equality for transgender and gender non-binary people in the United States and around the world,” the 2021 presidential Proclamation on Transgender Day Of Visibility states. “Their trailblazing work has given countless transgender individuals the bravery to live openly and authentically. This hard-fought progress is also shaping an increasingly accepting world in which peers at school, teammates and coaches on the playing field, colleagues at work, and allies in every corner of society are standing in support and solidarity with the transgender community.

“In spite of our progress in advancing civil rights for LGBTQ+ Americans, too many transgender people — adults and youth alike — still face systemic barriers to freedom and equality.”

How can you celebrate your transgender colleagues today and every day? Here are six ideas.

1. Use correct pronouns and names.

This is a straightforward means of respecting your transgender colleagues. When they ask you to use a certain name and pronouns, do it — it’s that simple. 

If you don’t know the correct pronouns to use, then it’s fine — and encouraged — to ask. It’s much better to ask questions than to make assumptions and get it wrong.

2. Enact nondiscrimination practices.

There is an enormous amount of research that suggests that “human beings are highly attuned to signals regarding the value ascribed to them by others,” according to Harvard Business Review. “To one degree or another, we all have a basic need to belong and a prewired, unconscious monitoring system that tracks the quality of our relationships. When we detect signs of social devaluation (apathy, disapproval, or rejection), we experience negative emotions and a loss of self-esteem.

Organizations should implement policies that actively support their transgender employees. For example, they can institute gender-neutral bathrooms.

3. Stand up for your peers.

“Trans people are coworkers just like any other, except we face elevated degrees of discrimination and harassment—both explicit and less so,” Lee Airton writes. “If you and your coworkers do not support each other in practicing when your trans colleague isn’t around to witness, you will not be able to do it when they are.”

Acknowledge and respect your peers by supporting them around others, offering gentle (and polite) reminders when people make mistakes, such as by using the wrong pronouns. 

4. Implement transgender-specific diversity training.

If you’re in a leadership position, working on incorporating gender-identity issues into your diversity training. If you’re not, you can always make this suggestion to someone in a human resources or management role. 

This type of training should involve people who identify as transgender, who can help inform your strategy and encourage others at the organization to uplift and support their coworkers. 

5. Educate yourself.

It is not your transgender colleague’s job to “teach” you about gender identity or to instruct you on how to be an ally. If you have questions or are curious about what this means, conduct your own research. 

You can and should, of course, give your coworker the space to talk about their gender identity. But if they are uncomfortable doing so, avoid trying to pry it out of them or asking probing questions. 

6. Above all else, treat everyone with respect.

This is the most important item on this list. Remember that everyone at your organization is a human being with likes and dislikes, needs and wants, and qualities and characteristics far beyond their gender identity. 

It is also everyone’s job to treat each and every one of your coworkers with dignity, respect and empathy, no matter who they are. 

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for ensuring your transgender peers feel seen and valued at work? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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