TGender.net: Checklist for Transitioning in the Workplace

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This checklist outlines the usual steps in an on-the-job transition to a new gender role in a supportive company. It is often appropriate to adapt this generic process to fit the local situation of an individual person or a specific organization.Unless otherwise specified, these steps should be initiated by the person undergoing the transition.

Advance Preparation

Come out to your local (or at-large) Employee Resource Group (ERG) chapter (EQUAL!, etc.)  This will generally be a receptive group.  Share your intent to transition. The ERG may have someone who can advise you, and may know people in HR or other parts of the company who can support you in your transition.

  • Come out to your local Diversity representative (or HR if no Diversity specialist is available.)  Share your intent to transition.  You may find it helpful to involve the Corporate Diversity organization as well.  HR Diversity is an important resource and ally for your transition.
  • Come out to your boss, and share your intent to transition.  This should be in a face to face, one on one meeting.  If you are uncomfortable or fearful of your bosses reaction, you may find it helpful to include one or two allies from Diversity, HR, or your ERG in the meeting.  Note: this step is vital and should never be skipped under any circumstances.  Never surprise your boss by transitioning without an advance agreement.  Your boss must be part of the planning process.  You need your boss as an ally if you are to have a successful transition.
  • Your boss will probably share your plans with a small portion of your management chain.
  • Your management and others involved in the planning should become familiar with educational resources, including company policy and books on the subject. (Recommended book: Transsexual Workers, An Employer’s Guide: Janis Walworth.)
  • Plan your transition.
    • Involve a local transgender expert (your therapist, for example, or an expert consultant.)
    • If necessary, involve others as locally appropriate.  Examples of persons who may need to be involved are the Employee Assistance Program, Security, and your Medical department.
    • Establish a time line for the transition, including the date for an announcement to your work group, and the date of your transition. Generally these dates are a week or two apart.
    • Plan the solutions to the usual issues (restroom, new name, etc.)
    • Involve all the behind-the-scenes people in the planning process, to ensure they are in agreement with the plan.
  • You may choose to privately come out, one-on-one, to anyone you work with closely or know well and feel comfortable confiding in.

 

The Day of the Announcement

    1. Hold a department meeting, or include this in an already-scheduled face-to-face meeting. It is OK to teleconference in any non-local people. Everyone in your work group who you interact with often at work should be there. Do not do this by e-mail! It is OK to have a written paper letter in conjunction with the face-to-face meeting.
    2. The manager of the work group (the department head, for example) should make the nnouncement.   It is important for the highest level manager in the group to show support.  The manager should:
      • Make it clear that the person transitioning is a valuable employee and has management’s full support in making this transition.
      • Explain company policy and recommendations.
      • Stress that on such-and-such day the employee will be a woman (or man if F-to-M) and should be called by the new name and new pronouns.
      • Answer people’s questions.

After the Announcement

    1. Consider some general education on the subject for the employees. (A 4 hour class is available. Shorter local workshops are also often available from local resources. The TS employee should choose whether to be present at this meeting, depending on comfort level. If TS agrees, people should be encouraged to ask him/her questions about the issue.
    2. Make arrangements with the bank to ensure that payroll checks to the new name can be deposited in your existing account. This may be just a matter of adding a new signature to the bank card.

The Day of Transition

    On the day of transition, your manager should take these steps, much as he or she would for a new or transferred employee:
  • Issue a new company identification badge with the new name and photo.
  • Arrange for a new name tag on door/desk/cubicle.
  • Update any organization charts, mailing lists, and other references to the old name.
  • Issue paperwork for the HR employee database, effective the day of transition, to change the following:
    • New name.
    • Change the gender marker (“M” or “F”.)
    • Computer handles and account IDs may be changed if the old ID is inappropriate.
    • Update the E-Mail address if it contains the old name.
  • Address restroom use and communicate the decision, as planned earlier. The preferred recommendation (unless prohibited by local law) is to use the restroom corresponding to the gender being presented (e.g. use the women’s restroom starting the first day of presenting as a woman.) If someone objects, they should be reminded that this valued employee has the same rights to the restroom as all other employees.
  • The first few hours on the first day will involve many new introductions. It is especially nice if any informal social groups are inclusive, especially those relevant to the new gender. The novelty usually wears off by mid-morning and work returns to normal. Over time, as people get to know the person in the new gender role, it will become old news.
  • If any restrictions have been placed on restroom usage, a date should be planned to revisit those restrictions.  Two months after the transition is usually about right for this meeting.

Copyright (c) 1999, 2001 by Mary Ann Horton. All rights reserved.

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