How to support a transgender co-worker
This article was published in The Hamilton Spectator.
Q: My co-worker, who identifies as transgender, has been facing discrimination and harassment at our workplace. How I can help them navigate this challenging situation?
A: It’s crucial to understand and support individuals who may be experiencing discrimination or harassment based on their gender identity or expression.
First and foremost, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the Ontario Human Rights Code. Under this Code, your co-worker is protected from discrimination and harassment in various aspects of their employment, including hiring, promotion, and work environment. They also have the right to be recognized and treated as the gender they live in, regardless of their surgical status or identification documents.
Your support can take various forms. Start by creating a safe and inclusive environment where your co-worker feels comfortable being themselves. Use their preferred name and pronouns, and encourage others to do the same. Educate yourself and colleagues on transgender issues, dispelling misconceptions and promoting understanding.
If your co-worker faces discrimination or harassment, encourage them to document incidents and keep records. They can file a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, seeking legal recourse.
Additionally, be a supportive ally by listening to your co-worker’s experiences and concerns. Offer emotional support and encourage them to access resources such as LGBTQ+ support groups or counseling services.
Remember, the responsibility to create an inclusive workplace extends to everyone. Engage with your employer to advocate for policies and practices that prevent discrimination and promote equality. By working together, we can foster a workplace environment that values diversity and upholds the rights of all individuals.
If you are in need of legal advice, please reach out to a member of our Human Rights and Employment Law team at Ross & McBride for assistance.