Trans 101:

The Workplace

Not sure what trans means?

Don't worry! We'll get there!








( Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender )


Someone who is not the gender that was assigned to them at birth.

Some examples of trans people!

Laura Jane Grace

Founder, lead signer of punk rock band Against Me!

Shannon Minter

White House appointee, Commission on White House Fellowships

Janet Mock

Staff editor at People's Magazine, contributing editor to Marie Claire.

Balian Buschbaum

Pole vaulter, olympian.


Laverne Cox

Actress in Orange is the New Black




Someone who is the gender that was assigned to them at birth.

"People who aren't trans"

some think of it as...


There is more to gender than what's captured by these two words

Hijra (South Asia)

People experience gender differently

These might clash with your expectations around gender

Respect their name

Respect their pronouns

Respect their choice of clothing

If there's one thing to remember...

Treat people as they ask to be treated


We're starting to see trans people being talked about in a positive way

Unfortunately, that's still the exception, not the rule

Liz: Next time Floyd brings home some corn pone tranny back to his apartment, all he’s gonna be thinking about is me, standing there in the snow, looking like the one who got away.

30 Rock

Carla: Ugh, I’m an old hag. I mean, look at her. Everything’s so tight and perky. Come on Carla, it’s not her fault. Just do what you always do, turn the other cheek and quietly spread the rumor that she’s a guy.


Dwight: His last girlfriend was a transvestite. I knew it right away. Adam’s apple like the prow of a ship. Thumbs like a lowland gorilla. Ha. But this one couldn’t see it or didn’t wanna see it.

The Office

"Transgendered advocacy has gone
too far"

"Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder."

Bill C-279

Adds an exception to the Human Rights Act for transgender people, so that they can be banned from washrooms, change rooms, shelters, and any other facility that corresponds to their gender.

Florida House Bill 583

Up to one year in jail for transgender people found using the washroom.


Texas House Bill 1748

Up to one year in jail for transgender people found using the washroom and $4,000 fine.

That informs how trans people are treated

It also informs how institutions regard the obstacles trans people face

Quick Stats


experienced transphobia


mocked for being trans


hit or beaten up for being trans


employed full-time


turned down job for being trans


live on less than $15,000


avoided public washrooms


harassed by police


had negative ER experience


seriously considered suicide


attempted suicide

Think about how the following might be different for a trans person

Taking a Walk Outside

Shopping for Clothes

Seeing Family

Going to the Gym

Showing ID

Saving for a Car / RRSPs / etc.

Applying for a Job


Travelling Abroad

Interacting with the Police

Living under these conditions has consequences



We're taught that discrimination is a people problem

With specific people acting hatefully

And that the underlying environment is inherently just

We're taught that the solution is addressing the bad apples

And equal treatment

Many workplace anti-discrimination policies are based on this understanding

Let's put that understanding aside for now

Apathy, not hate, is the greater problem

Hate accounts for isolated incidents

Indifference accounts for the every day

Let's go back a bit

Trans people have all of the same obstacles that cis people have in life

But trans people face an additional set of barriers because they're trans


employed full-time


turned down job for being trans


live on less than $15,000


cannot get transcripts with current name & gender


cannot get references

That's not the product of a few bad apples


This is far more widespread and ingrained

"Let's treat people the same" 

Treating trans people the same as cis people, under policies that only take into account how cis people experience the world, leaves those barriers there

Equal treatment does not address these obstacles

When the definition of "equal" means "treated the same as cis people" in an environment where only the issues faced by cis people are considered

What we need is to address obstacles including those that might not be faced by cis people

Even once those barriers are gone, the person can remain disadvantaged by past discrimination

It takes change to make workplaces accessible

And a recognition that some people will push back when some practices are identified as discriminatory

They may regard these claims as frivolous and "not real discrimination"

It may not match their expectations of what discrimination looks like

And those who bring them up might be seen as a nuisance

We wouldn't be here if people believed identified cases of discrimination

The thing is that no one wakes up and says "I'll discriminate today"

Discrimination is often much more mundane

And is not packaged in clear-cut cases

Discriminatory practices can be inherited and will always have good excuses to back them

Inaction is what keeps them alive

At the end of the day, it's about the outcome not the intent

The intent will never be to discriminate


Diversity pays off

What We (Workplace) Can Do

offer tests

as alternative to academic degrees

offer interviews

as alternative to references

use market rates

don't perpetuate disadvantaged earning history

representation in company literature


Allow for use of their names

Use health insurers that cover sex affirmation surgeries

Extend benefits to same-sex partners

Support initiatives like Trans*H4CK and Ladies Learning Code

Address sexism & brogrammer culture

Don't rely on  harassment to be reported

You might not be a manager or your employer may already implements much of this. But one day you might find yourself in a different position.

When that happens, remember that your word will mean more than that of someone who experiences these challenges. You won't be seen as having a "vested interest." Please bear this in mind should you recognize these barriers in the future.


Dos & Don'ts

Use name/pronoun they ask you to use


Ask about genitals ("the surgery")


Disclose trans status without permission




Statistics on Trans People

Media Representation Examples

Comic on Discrimination

CouchDB Presentation Slide

Supporting Trans Family Members


Attempted suicide by trans youth ages 16-24 in last year

Drop in attempted suicide with supportive parents


You love them

You know their family loves them too

Love doesn't necessarily mean support

When it doesn't, it can hurt all that much more


All their parents would say they love them too

Coming out is hard and it's done because the relationship is valued

Assumptions harm

It's irreversible

They're too young

They don't know what they want

Doctors prescribe to any child

They won't be happy

They're being selfish

It's because of their friends

Getting educated mitigates those fears


Young trans teens who went on to identify as trans adults


Young adults reported regret from transitioning as youths


Adults reported favourable outcome from transitioning

It means using the name and pronoun that are asked to be used

It means acceptance

not merely tolerance

It means listening when they say they were hurt

And not dismissing the consequences of their actions because that wasn't the intent

It means being there should the youth seek the help of support groups and counselors

This is about a baseline respect

And yes...

It might mean seeing medical professionals to get on puberty blockers

Who aren't just prescribed to everyone

And are fully reversible

But it gives those who need them a chance at a better life

It means being happy when they're happy

Even if those decisions wouldn't be for you

If you're not their parent, it means sticking up for them when their parents drop the ball

It's hard, but if you don't, who will?

Youths don't all have the skills to find support on their own

Even if the youth weren't to turn out trans, none of these things would have harmed them

They would have been supported for who they were

That's all this is: acceptance



Statistic on Trans Adolescents

Suicidality Statistics on Trans Youth

95% Statistic for Positive Outcome of Transition


0% Statistic on Regret with Trans Youth

Trans 101 For the Workplace

By Maëlys

Trans 101 For the Workplace

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