Skip to main content

How to be a trans ally in the workplace

It’s important to be kind to everyone at all times.

Whether you’re in a social setting or a professional workspace, learning to listen, understand, and acknowledge that we are all different, is essential to ensure that everyone around you feels comfortable.

Transgender identities in the UK

In January 2023, the Office for National Statistics in the UK reported that the previous month found that 262,2000 people stated that they identify as transgender or non-binary. This equates to around one in 200 people. Many people have noticed a statistical rise in the number of people identifying as transgender or non-binary. This can be due to several factors but, primarily, it is considered a result of the presence of a social embrace, education, and acceptance of people to be themselves.

But what do these terms mean?

Terminology

The terminology used often acts as an umbrella to describe gender-conforming and non-conforming identities. The three main terms used to describe gender identity are transgender, cisgender, and non-binary. However, not everyone will fit into these categories, so aim to be open-minded and approachable if someone ever wants to discuss their pronouns or identify with you.

Transgender. Essentially, this will be someone whose gender will be different from what was assigned to them at birth. For example, a transgender woman will be someone who was assigned male at birth, and a transgender man will have been assigned female at birth.

Cisgender. This is someone who is the same gender or sex assigned to them at birth.

Non-binary. This is usually the main term for someone who identifies as outside of the female/male gender binary.

What is a trans ally?

Although it is important to be kind no matter what situation you are in, the workplace can be very difficult for those who identify as something other than cisgender male or female. Back in 2021, a YouGov survey of 410 transgender employees across the UK found that 65% said they have to hide their status at work, which was a 13% increase five years prior.

For employers and colleagues, it’s important to be aware of the challenges that transgender people may face every day, and aim to be a public ally.

So, what does this mean?

Trans ally. This is someone who supports the transgender community but is not necessarily part of it. They are important in the work towards equality and a better social understanding of the experiences that the community may face. As an ally, you may do things differently to others to show support, but it is important to speak out against any discrimination, hate crime, or harassment towards the community if and when possible.

Things you should know about the transgender community

Our tips on how to be a trans ally also apply to everyone that you meet, no matter how they identify. However, as we are focusing more on becoming a transgender ally, here are a few points that you should know.

Transgender (and non-binary) is nothing new. It’s important to know that this isn’t a trend or something that has recently been established. A big reason you may hear more about gender identities is due to the changes in society. History has not always been very kind to anyone who doesn’t conform to the female/male gender identity, whereas education and public acceptance have allowed people to identify as their true selves.

Transgender people face high levels of harassment and discrimination. Just because society has somewhat improved, it doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. The National LGBT Survey reported that 59% of transgender women and 56% of transgender men, who responded to the survey, said they had avoided expressing their gender identity for fear of a negative reaction from others.

Transgender people may struggle to feel safe due to the issue of transphobia and the rise in hate crimes towards them. For example, the UK government reported that there were 4,355 transgender hate crimes in year ending March 2022. This was a 56% annual increase, which also does not include non-reported crimes.

Tips on how to be a public trans ally in the workplace

Be understanding. If you’re not too familiar with the terms transgender, non-binary, or any other term that may be used, a tip on how to address this is by putting yourself in their shoes. Look at it this way: if you were assigned male at birth, and you still identify as a male, you would expect others to appreciate and acknowledge your gender. The same rule applies to anyone else, so be respectful and kind when needed.

Listen and respect others. When someone decides to reveal their gender to others, this is an extremely personal decision that can affect their work and social life. Some people may be more confident at home than at work. If someone makes the decision to reveal their identity, it is important to be respectful and listen to how they would like to be addressed, and how you can support them going forward.

Don’t assume their identity. Many people do not feel comfortable revealing their identity, and not all transgender people are the same. Treat everyone uniquely and without bias or judgement.

Adjust or publish your policies. A happy workplace is one where colleagues feel supported and welcome. Make sure that you communicate these workplace values to all employees.

Lanyards and badges. Wearing a lanyard, badge, or any other token of support for the LGBT+ community can make a huge difference. This can be portrayed by a rainbow flag, for example. Particularly in customer service roles, where you may not necessarily know the people that you are speaking to, it can be really important to physically show your support so that people feel safe and comfortable.

Do not discriminate. When hiring for a job vacancy, the gender of a person will not affect their capability of doing the job if they are qualified for it. Someone who identifies as transgender should not have less opportunities than others.

Have a support system. Make sure that there are trained people available in the business for those who may need it. You might also consider seeking external experts to come into the workplace to offer advice and support when needed.

Speak out. If you see something is wrong, or someone in the community is being treated unfairly or negatively due to their identity, aim to speak out when possible. This can vary depending on the situation and your abilities, but it is important to have a voice against discrimination and to support the trans community in the best way that you can.

Looking for more information?

Whether you’d like to read more about how to be a trans ally, or you’d like some support regarding this topic, we are here to help.

Equality, diversity, and inclusion at Kaplan

Find out more

Related articles

C.I.KNOW: Developing new talent leads to award nominations

C.I.KNOW: Developing new talent leads to award nominations

Richard Bradley, IT Consultant at C.I.KNOW, spoke to us about their experience taking on an IT apprentice.

Kaplan · 6 minute read

What is presenteeism and why is this a problem?

What is presenteeism and why is this a problem?

Guest author, Sharon McDougall, explains what presenteeism is and how this can hinder your business.

Kaplan · 6 minute read

The differences between PowerBI and Excel

The differences between PowerBI and Excel

Both PowerBI and Excel are data visualisation tools, but there are some differences. Let’s take a closer look…

Kaplan

View all articles

How to be a trans ally in the workplace

It’s important to be kind to everyone at all times.

Whether you’re in a social setting or a professional workspace, learning to listen, understand, and acknowledge that we are all different, is essential to ensure that everyone around you feels comfortable.

Transgender identities in the UK

In January 2023, the Office for National Statistics in the UK reported that the previous month found that 262,2000 people stated that they identify as transgender or non-binary. This equates to around one in 200 people. Many people have noticed a statistical rise in the number of people identifying as transgender or non-binary. This can be due to several factors but, primarily, it is considered a result of the presence of a social embrace, education, and acceptance of people to be themselves.

But what do these terms mean?

Terminology

The terminology used often acts as an umbrella to describe gender-conforming and non-conforming identities. The three main terms used to describe gender identity are transgender, cisgender, and non-binary. However, not everyone will fit into these categories, so aim to be open-minded and approachable if someone ever wants to discuss their pronouns or identify with you.

Transgender. Essentially, this will be someone whose gender will be different from what was assigned to them at birth. For example, a transgender woman will be someone who was assigned male at birth, and a transgender man will have been assigned female at birth.

Cisgender. This is someone who is the same gender or sex assigned to them at birth.

Non-binary. This is usually the main term for someone who identifies as outside of the female/male gender binary.

What is a trans ally?

Although it is important to be kind no matter what situation you are in, the workplace can be very difficult for those who identify as something other than cisgender male or female. Back in 2021, a YouGov survey of 410 transgender employees across the UK found that 65% said they have to hide their status at work, which was a 13% increase five years prior.

For employers and colleagues, it’s important to be aware of the challenges that transgender people may face every day, and aim to be a public ally.

So, what does this mean?

Trans ally. This is someone who supports the transgender community but is not necessarily part of it. They are important in the work towards equality and a better social understanding of the experiences that the community may face. As an ally, you may do things differently to others to show support, but it is important to speak out against any discrimination, hate crime, or harassment towards the community if and when possible.

Things you should know about the transgender community

Our tips on how to be a trans ally also apply to everyone that you meet, no matter how they identify. However, as we are focusing more on becoming a transgender ally, here are a few points that you should know.

Transgender (and non-binary) is nothing new. It’s important to know that this isn’t a trend or something that has recently been established. A big reason you may hear more about gender identities is due to the changes in society. History has not always been very kind to anyone who doesn’t conform to the female/male gender identity, whereas education and public acceptance have allowed people to identify as their true selves.

Transgender people face high levels of harassment and discrimination. Just because society has somewhat improved, it doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. The National LGBT Survey reported that 59% of transgender women and 56% of transgender men, who responded to the survey, said they had avoided expressing their gender identity for fear of a negative reaction from others.

Transgender people may struggle to feel safe due to the issue of transphobia and the rise in hate crimes towards them. For example, the UK government reported that there were 4,355 transgender hate crimes in year ending March 2022. This was a 56% annual increase, which also does not include non-reported crimes.

Tips on how to be a public trans ally in the workplace

Be understanding. If you’re not too familiar with the terms transgender, non-binary, or any other term that may be used, a tip on how to address this is by putting yourself in their shoes. Look at it this way: if you were assigned male at birth, and you still identify as a male, you would expect others to appreciate and acknowledge your gender. The same rule applies to anyone else, so be respectful and kind when needed.

Listen and respect others. When someone decides to reveal their gender to others, this is an extremely personal decision that can affect their work and social life. Some people may be more confident at home than at work. If someone makes the decision to reveal their identity, it is important to be respectful and listen to how they would like to be addressed, and how you can support them going forward.

Don’t assume their identity. Many people do not feel comfortable revealing their identity, and not all transgender people are the same. Treat everyone uniquely and without bias or judgement.

Adjust or publish your policies. A happy workplace is one where colleagues feel supported and welcome. Make sure that you communicate these workplace values to all employees.

Lanyards and badges. Wearing a lanyard, badge, or any other token of support for the LGBT+ community can make a huge difference. This can be portrayed by a rainbow flag, for example. Particularly in customer service roles, where you may not necessarily know the people that you are speaking to, it can be really important to physically show your support so that people feel safe and comfortable.

Do not discriminate. When hiring for a job vacancy, the gender of a person will not affect their capability of doing the job if they are qualified for it. Someone who identifies as transgender should not have less opportunities than others.

Have a support system. Make sure that there are trained people available in the business for those who may need it. You might also consider seeking external experts to come into the workplace to offer advice and support when needed.

Speak out. If you see something is wrong, or someone in the community is being treated unfairly or negatively due to their identity, aim to speak out when possible. This can vary depending on the situation and your abilities, but it is important to have a voice against discrimination and to support the trans community in the best way that you can.

Looking for more information?

Whether you’d like to read more about how to be a trans ally, or you’d like some support regarding this topic, we are here to help.

Equality, diversity, and inclusion at Kaplan

Find out more

Related articles

C.I.KNOW: Developing new talent leads to award nominations

C.I.KNOW: Developing new talent leads to award nominations

Richard Bradley, IT Consultant at C.I.KNOW, spoke to us about their experience taking on an IT apprentice.

Kaplan · 6 minute read

What is presenteeism and why is this a problem?

What is presenteeism and why is this a problem?

Guest author, Sharon McDougall, explains what presenteeism is and how this can hinder your business.

Kaplan · 6 minute read

The differences between PowerBI and Excel

The differences between PowerBI and Excel

Both PowerBI and Excel are data visualisation tools, but there are some differences. Let’s take a closer look…

Kaplan

View all articles