Compiled by Melissa S Grivy, LGBTQ Intern with the CU GLBTQ Resource Center
This webpage was created to acknowledge the value of transgender employees in the workplace. It seeks to acknowledge the particular obstacles faced by transgender workers and to offer strategies and resources to overcome these obstacles:
LGBTQ Friendly Colleges & Student Resources
Employment Statistics for Transgender People
Coming Out to Potential Employers
Transitioning in the Workplace
Know Your Rights
Filing a Complaint Against an Employer
Resources for Employers
In the United States...
- Transgender and gender nonconforming individuals experience twice the rate of unemployment as the general population.
- Over one quarter have reported job loss due to their gender identity.
- 71% have attempted to hide their gender or gender transition to avoid discrimination; 57% have delayed their gender transition.
- Yet of those that transitioned, 78% reported feeling more comfortable at work with improved job performance.
- Those who were unemployed were at greater risk of substance abuse and other negative health outcomes, homelessness, and incarceration.[i]
- 53% of transgendered residents in Boulder County have an income of less than $25,000.[ii]
Under no circumstances are you required to come out to an employer, but if you do choose to there are also no guidelines or correct method of doing so. However, there are some circumstances in which you may not have a choice but to come out to a potential employer. If you have previously transitioned at a job or in school this may be revealed through background and reference checks. You or your new or potential employer may receive a “Social Security Gender No-Match Letter” which is received when employee information in an employer’s database differs from that on file with the SSA database. No-Match Letters are dispatched to prevent social security number misuse, but they can also unintentionally out you to an employer. Employers are advised to check for errors on forms and if no error exists, the No-Match Letter becomes your responsibility. If you have had sex reassignment surgery, you can file to have your gender marker changed. It this is successful, you don’t need to come out to your employer—just tell them the issue was addressed. If you cannot change your gender marker, your options are to come out to your employer or you can choose to have your employee records match the SSA gender marker. An additional option is to request that your employee information be resubmitted without gender as this is an optional piece of information. Your employer may not cooperate but if they do you may be able to spare future employees from Gender No-Match Letters.[iii]
If you do feel the need to come out to a potential employer or within the first few days of a job it is advisable to seek out a human resource member. Before confiding in them, inform them you need to disclose confidential medical information.
While you are legally entitled to use your preferred name and gender on your resume and cover letter, employers may request your legal gender and/or sex as part of the application process, as in regards to health insurance for example.
While in the job search process, trust your own judgment and try to find employers that specify gender identity or expression in their antidiscrimination policy. Additionally, some employers also have LGBT employee groups which can tip you off to friendly employers.[iv]
If the antidiscrimination policy at your place of work specifies gender identity as protected, your employer ought to be able to smoothly handle your transition. If you are unable to find transition guidelines, your first step is to approach the human resources department. Though you may feel more comfortable confiding in a coworker or manager, it is in your best interest to first disclose your decision to transition to HR. Human resource employees are legally bound to protect your privacy and have received specific training.
There is no right or wrong way to go about your transition; whether you feel most comfortable transitioning immediately into your desired gender role or would feel best slowly making the transition at work is entirely to your judgment.
Human resources will be responsible for supporting you and also your supervisor in maintaining a smooth and distress free transition. HR representatives have been specifically trained to address your needs in a professional and effective manner.[v]
Every year the Human Rights Commission publishes The Corporate Equality Index which rates the LGBTQ inclusiveness of major businesses. Employers are rated based on items including insurance coverage and the content of anti-discrimination policies. When searching for jobs, you can utilize the guidelines provided by the Index to identify employers that will or will more likely provide a safe, positive working environment. The criteria are as follows:
Prohibit discrimination based on gender identity
Offer competency training
Provide transgender inclusive healthcare
Have an LGBT employee group or a diversity council
Post jobs that specify diversity[vi]
Job Search Engines
These search engines allow you to search for employers based on LGBTQ specific criteria:
Job Fairs for Transgender Individuals
Looking for job opportunities, interviews, job placement resources, and other educational opportunities? Attend the next job fair at The LGBT Center in Denver!
Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law protects
against sex discrimination (among other things such as racial and religious
discrimination) in places of public accommodation and "to establish a
Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity.” Several court cases have been
ruled by the EEOC in favor of transgender employees based on Title VII.[vii]
Anti-Discrimination Act. As of 2007, the
CADA was amended by the Sexual Orientation Employment Discrimination Act
(SOEDA) which protects sexual orientation from employment discrimination. SOEDA
defines sexual orientation as: “a person’s orientation toward heterosexuality,
homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status or an employer’s perception
thereof.” Under SOEDA, employers are legally prohibited from:
- Making inquiries into the sexual
preference of a potential hire of job applicant
- Implementing “separate lines of
progression or seniority systems” for employees who are of a certain or
different sexual orientation
- nStating any preferences or
oppositions toward any sexual orientation in employment announcements
- Not allowing an employee to express their gender identity
by dressing in the clothing appropriate to their gender identity, regardless of
any company dress codes that specify guidelines for each gender.[viii]
Boulder Human Rights Ordinance.
This ordinance prohibits discrimination within the city limits of
Boulder in employment, housing, and public accommodations. This law considers
not only sexual orientation but also gender identity as protected classes.[ix]
Laws that Specifically Protect
The Civil Service Reform Act of
1978. This law prohibits discrimination
by the federal government on the basis of “conduct which does not adversely
affect the performance” of an applicant or employee. As of 2009, the Office of
Personnel Management has clarified that these protections extend to gender
identity and being transgender.
Executive Order 13087. This order prohibits
discrimination in federal employment based on actual or perceived sexual
ENDA: The Employment Nondiscrimination Act
If ratified, ENDA would prohibit discrimination based on sexual
orientation and gender identity by employers who have at least 15 employees at
the federal level.[xi]
Want to support ENDA? Visit ENDA online at www.endaNOW.org or the endaNow
What are Your General Rights in the Workplace?
It is unlawful to be fired or denied employment or promotion based on
your Transgender identity.
You have the right to safe and accessible facilities including
restrooms. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA, as per
federal law, prohibits employers from insisting that you utilize restrooms or
facilities that comprise your safety, that are only accessible at a lengthy or incongruous
distance from your assigned workplace, or that are otherwise in unsanitary
condition. An employer that forbids or otherwise attempts to restrict your
access to restrooms that are consistent with your gender identity can be
additionally be subject to legal ramifications as pursuant of
You also have the right to be treated by your employer and coworkers
in a professional manner which is free from harassment. Employers are obligated
to take action against sex-based harassment which may occur in the form of
derogatory jokes or slander, conscious misuse of your preferred name and
pronouns, and invasive personal inquiries that overstep common courtesy and
file charges of discrimination against an employer with the appropriate legal
office before a lawsuit can be pursued. If you choose to file a complaint you
are legally protected against any retaliation on the part of your employer. General
guidelines under the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission or the EEOC require that
charges be filed with the appropriate agency within 180 days following the
incident or 45 days following an incident if you are a federal employee. Exceptions
to these guidelines can and do occur and you should file charges as soon as
possible following the incident.
Charges must be filed in person. However inquiries can be made via
phone and online tools are also available to assist you in assessing your claim
and providing instructions on how and where to file your claim.[xiii]
For details and instructions on submitting charges you can visit the
EEOC online at: http://eeoc.gov/employees/howtofile.cfm.
Additional information can be accessed on the EEOC’s hotline: 1-800-669- 4000
feel your rights have been violated under CADA, you may file charges with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD).[xiv]
discrimination that has occurred specifically within the city limits of
Boulder, complaints can be filed through the Boulder’s Human Relations
Commission. For more information or to file a claim call: 303-441-3140.[xv]
Understanding Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Employees: http://gillfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/Gender-Expression-Toolkit.pdf
Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Inclusion
LGBTQ organizations in Boulder County also offer educational opportunities
including Ally trainings. Please refer to Additional Local Resources.
Identity Center of Colorado
Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Center for Transgender Equality
Injustice at Every Turn. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf
“Social Security Gender No-Match Letters and Transgender Employees.” National
Center for Transgender Equality. http://transequality.org/Issues/nomatch.html#employees.
[iv] “Coming Out in
the Workplace as Transgender.” Human Rights Commission. http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/coming-out-in-the-workplace-as-transgender
Gender Transition Guidelines. Human Rights Campaign.” http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/workplace-gender-transition-guidelines
[vi] “Corporate Equality Index 2013.”
Human Rights Campaign Foundation. http://www.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/CEI_2013_Final_low.pdf.pdf.
Antidiscrimination Laws.” State of Colorado. http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobheadername2=Content-Type&blobheadervalue1=inline%3B+filename%3D%22Non-discrimination+Policy.pdf%22&blobheadervalue2=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251741381222&ssbinary=true
[ix] “What is
the City of Boulder Human Rights Ordinance?” City of Boulder Colorado. http://www.bouldercolorado.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1975&Itemid=1285.
[x] “Transgender Federal Employees: Your
Workplace Rights.” National Center for Transgender Equality. http://transequality.org/Resources/FederalEmployees_Feb2012.pdf
“Employment Non-Discrimination Act.” Human Rights Campaign. http://www.hrc.org/laws-and-legislation/federal-legislation/employment-non-discrimination-act
[xii] “Know Your Rights: Employment
Discrimination and Transgender People.” National Center for Transgender
“Know Your Rights: Employment Discrimination and Transgender People.” National
Center for Transgender Equality. http://transequality.org/Resources/EmploymentKnowYourRights_May2012.pdf
[xiv] “Federal Antidiscrimination Laws.”
State of Colorado. http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobheadername2=Content-Type&blobheadervalue1=inline%3B+filename%3D%22Non-discrimination+Policy.pdf%22&blobheadervalue2=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251741381222&ssbinary=true
[xv] “How Do I File a Complaint?” City of
Boulder Colorado. http://www.bouldercolorado.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1978&Itemid=1285