Gender Expression Policies – What to Focus On

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Photo Credits - Ant Rozetsky via Unsplash

Having gender expression policies for an employer shows a commitment to supporting trans and non-binary employees while also furthering diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace that maintains a healthy environment will help keep all employees comfortable.

Although not a universal practice, gender expression policies have been implemented by various companies and institutions – such as the University of Surrey and the Open University.

Most recent numbers provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that their gender identity may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth, with 262,000 people in England and Wales indicating that their gender identity is different from the sex assigned at birth.

As an employer, it is important to be aware of this matter to support and maintain a healthy diverse workplace. In the pursuit of doing so, here are some points to focus on to include in workplace gender expression policies.  

READ: What are Gender Expression Policies, and Do You Need One?

Neutral and Inclusive Policies

In supporting employees who identify as trans and non-binary, it is important that all employees feel supported and valued in the workplace. Thus, organisations should implement gender-neutral practices and policies that will apply to all. Areas such as toilet usage, dress codes and preferred pronouns can be included within gender expression policies.

An example of this in practice is the policies laid out by the University of Southampton. Within their policies, they have established gender-neutral toilets within their campus. Additionally, they have also encouraged staff and students to express their preferred pronouns, as well as advising them to ask others for their preferred pronouns if unsure.

Supporting Transitioning Employees

Gender transition is a big and lengthy process. This process may include gender-confirmation surgery, although some trans individuals may choose not to. However, employers should remember that transitioning is a deeply personal and necessary process for that individual. Knowing so is key to maintaining a supportive environment.

The Law Society has provided a template for transition and change to gender expression. Within the template, resources have been laid out to provide further information for the employee. It should also be noted that there is a specific part in the template where wider communication is mentioned. This is important as employers should not “out” an individual, and only communicate the matter to the rest of the organisation when the individual feels comfortable.

READ: Right to Strike Announcement – Here is What TUC Says

Trans-Specific Diversity Training

Training on matters of gender identity and trans-specific matters are essential. It is recommended that organisations should include individuals who identify as trans in this process. However, employers should remember that educating the community is not the responsibility of any individuals who identify as trans – such employees should only be involved if they want to. Thus, employers should seek guidance from specialists or organisations that offer LGBTQ+ training and consultancy.

Providing this training will help cisgender employees to develop the awareness and skills to ensure a more inclusive workplace. It should be reminded that when it comes to matters of trans individuals, cisgender employees should consult before acting. These policies and training should have trans employees as the focus, not the other way around. Ensuring the awareness of all employees can help eliminate stigma and prejudice towards trans and non-binary individuals.

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