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Tips for gender transitions in the workplace

It’s a very different world than the one you grew up in, and you’ve finally got the confidence and help that you need to live authentically – and that means eventually letting your workplace know that you’re transgender.

How do you make the transition without creating undue (and unwanted) drama in the workplace? Here are some tips that may help:

Enlist support from your boss and your human resources department

There doesn’t need to be any disclosure until you’re ready. Once you are, however, your right to gender expression is protected under both federal and state laws, so schedule a meeting with your boss or human resources with confidence to discuss the use of the appropriate pronouns, bathroom facilities and names (if you’ve chosen a new one).

This is also a good time to consider how to make the announcement to your coworkers. Often, your human resources department or boss can normalize the transition process by simply treating it as any other announcement about a workplace name change – complete with updates to your name on the company email.

Lean on your work friends for additional help with the process

A lot of trans people “test the waters” with a few people before they feel comfortable telling the rest of the world – and the workplace is no different.

If you have a few people at work that you feel are your friends, try telling them about your transition and asking them to refer to you by your new name and pronouns. This can help you quietly “spread the word” with a minimum of attention.

Be patient (but not too patient) about mistakes by your bosses or peers

Mistakes happen – especially at first. It’s okay to proactively correct your bosses or co-workers if they use the wrong pronouns or your old name as you transition. Most people won’t do it more than once or twice.

However, don’t confuse a simple slip of memory with deliberate misgendering. If you have a co-worker who habitually continues to refer to you as “he” when you’re a “she,” or a boss that seems to think it’s funny to keep calling you by your old name, that’s workplace discrimination.

Even though times have changed, some prejudices endure. If you face workplace discrimination over your gender identity, find out more about your legal options.


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