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This is not legal advice, which can only be given by an attorney admitted to practice law in your jurisdiction after hearing all of the facts and circumstances in a particular case.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Transgender 101

I have previously blogged about the creation of a "transition plan" for transgender employees who are transitioning from one gender to another on the job. Part of that plan includes the following:

8. Guidelines Review Session

A Gender Transition Guidelines Review Session will be held with those in frequent workplace contact, including co-workers, vendors and customers who are in direct contact with the employee.

One of the items that can be very useful for such a session is a handout that discusses the issues for linguistic learners -- those who learn best by reading. Papers or talks that are intended to introduce transgender issues to the unitiated are often called "Transgender 101." These papers can be very useful for HR managers who are working on creating a script for a meeting with co-workers of transgender employees who are transitioning on the job.

A search for "Transgender 101" on Google brings up a lot of sites. After reading through most of them, I have come up with four that I think are useful. In order of merit, here they are:

HRC Transgender 101
Whether or not they identify as transgender, many gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight people transgress traditional gender roles. A straight female with short hair who is often called "sir" in public, a boyish-looking lesbian who is questioned in the women's bathroom, a gay teen-ager who is reprimanded for "not acting like a man" — all face bias based on preconceived notions of gender. The more people see how gender varies, the more people will embrace laws that treat people equally regardless of their gender exhibition.
www.hrc.org/.../Transgender_101.htm - 34k - Cached - Similar pages

I like this one because it offers both easy-to-understand examples and in-depth commentary on the issues affecting the lives of transgender employees for those with little exposure to gender theory.
There are also links to further information if one wants them, but not too much overwhelming info on each page. However, it's not easy to print and is primarily designed for the web. It could be a good idea to print out the first page and put the web address in big letters.

2. Transgender 101
In order to understand the difference between someone who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and someone who is transgender, you need to know the difference between sex and gender. Simply put, sex is polarity of anatomy, gender is polarity of appearance and behavior. As one gains familiarity with transgenderism, these definitions quickly break down, but they serve as a good starting point.
out.ucr.edu/trans_101.html - 11k - Cached - Similar pages

This one is based on Nancy Nangeroni's ubiquitous text. I like it because it introduces the major concepts of gender theory necessary to understand transgender identities. But then again, I am an academic. In my opinion, texts reliant on definitions of transgender identities should be reserved for advanced audiences because they can be confusing to the uninitiated. They do not address the issues of importance to the lives of transgender employees. Defining various transgender identities is more of interest to academics than to HR managers who need to create a space of tolerance and acceptance.

3. Transgender 101
The vice-principal of a highschool in a suburban CT town is pulled over as police check for drunk drivers on a holiday weekend. He is sober. The press decides to report the incident anyways. He is forced to resign from his job within a week.
www.uuse.org/past_services/2004/06/13_Transgender101.asp - 19k - Cached - Similar pages

I like this one because it humanizes the issues so well. Again, however, it gets into definitions that are beside the point. Further, it is a religious text that might not be suitable for use in a work

4. Transgender 102
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
Our culture tends to limit its understanding of gender to man and woman. OBGLTC believes there are more than two genders. OBGLTC uses the word transgender as an umbrella term to describe the following people: crossdressers/transvestites, third gender people, transsexuals, intersexuals and any self-identified transgender people.
www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/Transgender%20102.pdf - Similar pages

Again with the definitions. However, at the end it offers "How to be more understanding and welcoming of transgender people," with two lists: 10 Basic Actions and 10 Advanced Actions. Sometimes it's nice to be told what you're supposed to do.

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