Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  Gender Identity Discrimination

What terms does an employer need to know?

What is gender identity discrimination?

 

What terms does an employer need to know?

The phrase gender identity refers to one's self-identification as a man or a woman, as opposed to one's anatomical sex at birth. Usually, one's gender identity matches one's anatomical sex. However, for transgender people, gender identity does not align with their anatomical sex, or the gender they were assigned at birth. Someone born appearing male may have a strong self-image and self-identification as a woman; someone born appearing female may have a strong internal self-image and self-identification as a man. Some transgender people seek medical treatment in the form of hormone therapy or surgery to have their physical sex changed to agree with their gender identity.

The phrasegender expression refers to how society views one's gender identity based on cues like clothing, haircut, voice, and name: recognizing someone as a woman or a man. Transgender people generally want their gender expression to match their gender identity and not necessarily the gender they were assigned at birth.

The term transgender is a blanket term used to describe someone who, in one or more ways, does not conform to stereotypes of gender identity and/or gender expression. This term includes: female and male cross-dressers, transvestites, drag queens or kings, female and male impersonators, intersexed individuals, pre-operative, post-operative, and non-operative transsexuals, masculine females, feminine males, all persons whose perceived gender or anatomic sex may be incongruent with their gender expression, and all persons with gender characteristics and identities who are perceived to be androgynous.

A transitioning transgender person is one who is modifying his or her physical characteristics and gender expression to - in effect - satisfy the standards for membership in a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. Some transgender people seek medical treatment in the form of hormone therapy or surgery to make their physical sex agree with their gender identity, while others do not. Transition is done with the help of medical professionals in accordance with recognized standards of care that have been in use since the 1960s. Transition may include a trial living period of at least one year to determine the individual's comfort with the new gender and, if the transitioning person so decides, continued hormone administration and life in the reassigned gender sometimes accompanied by surgical reconstruction of primary and secondary sex characteristics, facial structure, etc.

What is gender identity discrimination?

Gender identity discrimination means treating individuals differently in the workplace, or taking negative employment action against them because of their gender identity or gender expression.

Gender identity discrimination against transgender people in the workplace may include:

  • Being fired when your employer finds out about your plan to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
  • Being fired for cross-dressing outside the workplace if your employer finds out.
  • If you as a transgender person attempt to wear clothing appropriate to your gender identity you may be disciplined, reassigned or terminated, based on a failure to conform to a company dress code policy that makes no effort to accommodate transgender individuals.
  • Being refused access to workplace restroom facilities and harassed by coworkers and supervisors on the basis of your gender identity.
  • Being denied equal treatment in public accommodations, which can affect your ability to successfully function in the workplace. For example, transgender people have been asked to leave restaurants, hotels, stores, medical facilities, and educational institutions. This discrimination may make it difficult, if not impossible, to successfully perform one's job.

If any of these things have happened to you on the job, you may have suffered gender identity discrimination.

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Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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