Coming Out At Work

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Deciding to come out at as transgender in the workplace can be an intimidating experience. Being prepared and having a detailed plan in place can make the entire process easier on everyone involved.

Before making the decision to come out at work, there are a few things to consider.

  1. How is the atmosphere of your work environment? Are your coworkers, supervisors, and/or clients and customers LGBT friendly? Do people tell off-color or outright homophobic or transphobic jokes?
  2. Consider your job performance. Have you had good performance evaluations in the past? Are you a valued employee?
  3. Does your state, city or county have laws in place protecting you against discrimination based on gender identity or expression? In the United States, only 16 states and the District of Columbia have laws that offer protection against gender identity discrimination. For a complete list (which includes local jurisdictions), visit http://www.transgenderlaw.org/ndlaws/#jurisdictions.
  4. Does the company you work for have non-discrimination policy in place that specifically protects against discrimination based on gender and not just sex? If you work for a large corporation, the Human Rights Campaign has a Corporate Equality Index that may be useful. It is available on line at www.hrc.org/campaigns/corporate-equality-index.
  5. Determine if you will transition while you are on the job or if you will take time off and return after transitioning.
  6. If you have a mental health professional, discuss your decision with him or her prior to coming out.

Benefits of coming out

  • Eliminates stress by allowing you to live a more authentic life.
  • It is empowering. You will be taking control of the situation so you will no longer have to worry that a boss or coworker will discover your secret on his or her own.
  • You will be able to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with your peers.
  • You will be creating a more open work environment for yourself and others. Being open and honest about yourself may encourage other LGBT coworkers to come out.
  • Builds self esteem

Coming Out

Once you have made the decision to come out, there are several things you may do to make the process easier.

  1. Involve your therapist or a transition expert in make a plan. According to Transgender At Work (www.tgender.net), your plan should include:
    • A timeline for the transition process
    • Resolve foreseeable issues such as restroom usage, name, etc.
  2. Find a trans-friendly ally at work – especially in the human resources department – to come out to initially. A human resources supporter can be invaluable. We are available to work with human resources to write a plan, which will meet everyone’s needs.

After coming out, you should:

  • Be prepared to answer questions
  • Continue to perform you job duties
  • Dress in appropriate attire similar to what others are wearing.

 

While deciding when to come out as transgender may be difficult, following these guidelines ease the process for everyone involved. We are here to help throughout the transition process.  Please contact us at 201 S. University, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858 or 989-572-0246 to schedule an appointment.