As the capacities of medicine advance and societal mores become more accepting, the prevalence of gender-dysphoric individuals choosing to undergo gender transformation has been increasing. While many transmen and transwomen are relieved to be able to live a life more authentic to that with which they identify, the transition process brings about a unique set of challenges. Some of the foremost struggles that a trans individual may experience are at work: because the person’s job is unlikely to alter, undergoing gender transition can lead to professional and personal challenges.
New Identity, New Job?
Counselors once recommended individuals going through transition to start afresh with a new job. However, shifting jobs can lead to poorer benefits, reduced pay, and a host of new networking demands. In addition, interviewing as a new gender may present difficulties for a newly transitioned individual, and if the new company identifies the applicant as transsexual through the interview process or by examining work history, he or she may face discrimination. Because of these factors, many transitioning individuals choose to remain at their original place of work.
Transitioning At Work
When an individual transitions at work, he or she may face negativity and discrimination on multiple fronts. If the transman or transwoman works in a client-based industry, they may experience resistance when explaining the transition to clients. Ideally, a supportive management can aid the employee by communicating to the client that the quality of service will not be affected. Coworkers, too, may react with gossip or hostility, especially if the trans individual begins to use the bathroom appropriate to his or her new gender. While using a unisex bathroom if available may help avoid the issue, it is best for the transitioning individual to clearly communicate which bathroom he or she will be using and remain consistent. Overall, using the bathroom congruent with the new gender identity instead of the old may be less disruptive in the long run.
Although a transitioning individual may be faced with employment challenges, either by choosing to find a new workplace or by undergoing the transition process with existing colleagues and clients, acceptance is not impossible to achieve. Management can ease the process by providing training and support, which helps the transitioning individual remain comfortable at the workplace, and eventually coworkers can adjust to the changes and move forward. Ultimately, transitioning at work need not present more than temporary challenges, and a tolerant environment and clear communication can greatly enhance the process.