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Photo of Michelle Cohen Levy

Unmasking transgender discrimination in the workplace

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2023 | Employment Law |

Transgender discrimination refers to the unfair and prejudiced treatment that trans people often face due to their gender identity or gender expression. 

Discrimination against transgender employees can encompass a wide range of negative behaviors, from subtle acts of bias to overt violence. It’s often rooted in entrenched social norms and stereotypes – as well as misunderstandings about what gender identity actually means.

Transgender discrimination is very pervasive. Over one-fourth of trans people report that they’ve lost a job because of someone’s biases, and more than three-fourths have experienced other forms of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

What does transgender discrimination look like at work? 

Trans people often face a lot of hurdles securing employment in the first place, since hiring managers may harbor conscious or unconscious biases that cause them to reject qualified job candidates solely because of their trans status. However, even those who find employment often face problems like:

  • Offensive behavior and hostility: A lot of transgender people report problems with managers, co-workers and customers who feel free to make inappropriate “jokes” about their sexuality or gender expression. Others are “dead named” with impunity by their peers, and management does nothing about it.
  • Bathroom and locker issues: When workplaces lack inclusive policies that address the specific needs of transgender people, trouble can start. For example, a trans person who is partway through a transition may be resented whether they use the restroom that corresponds to the sex they were assigned at birth or their true gender – and that can lead to harassment.
  • Denied opportunities for advancement: Transgender people can be denied front-facing positions by narrow-minded managers who are concerned about how customers may react to the employee. In other cases, trans people are simply denied promotions and other opportunities due to biases from the higher-ups.
  • Retaliation: Sometimes transgender people face blatant retaliation the moment that they announce their intention to transition and start to adopt clothing, grooming and identities consistent with their true genders. That may take the form of unjust negative work evaluations and eventual termination.

If you believe that you’ve been the victim of gender-based discrimination, it may be time to learn more about what legal steps you can take to fight back.