4 Ways to Support Your Transgender Colleagues, During and After Pride was originally published on Firsthand.
This year’s Pride Month is a bittersweet one, perfectly captured by the chosen theme: Peace, Love, Revolution. At the time of writing this, the ACLU is tracking more than 490 anti-LGBTQ+ laws on the dockets of nearly all state legislatures, the overwhelming majority of which target transgender people. These range from restricting access to gender-affirming health care to so-called “bathroom bills” to book bans—practically no aspect of life is untouched, including the workplace.
It’s easy, when June comes along, to get lost in the rainbows and “love is love” signs. Pride is celebratory—so by all means, celebrate. But, first and foremost, Pride is a protest. How do we carry this support into the other parts of the year, when the parades are over? Here are some ways that you can support your transgender colleagues and employees in a tangible way.
Reaffirm your organization’s initiatives and make an actionable plan.
Most larger organizations have mission statements and diversity, equity, and inclusion pledges somewhere on their websites. Pride Month is always a good time to revisit these statements—have the folks in your organization looked at them recently? Are your organization’s values well represented in the company’s day-to-day culture?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are more than a piece of copy on the company website, however. It’s all well and good to say that all folks of different strokes are welcome at your organization, but what policies and practices are in place that ensure it? Some examples could include covering gender-affirming healthcare in company insurance policies, adding pronouns to company email signatures, ensuring that the organization’s dress code is gender-neutral, and having policies within HR to navigate any issues of discrimination trans employees may face. It’s important, when it comes to DEI, that the company’s actions and culture reflect its stated values.
Organize a read-along.
I’ve always said that one of the best ways to engage with experiences outside of one’s own is to read about them. LGBTQIA+ people so often are just asking for their friends and colleagues to listen to them, to empathize with their experiences. Reading memoirs is one way to do this. Below are some of my favorite memoirs by trans and nonbinary authors, which are sure to spark empathetic discussion.
Dear Senthuran – Akwaeke Emezi
Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story – Jacob Tobia
Redefining Realness – Janet Mock
Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution – Susan Stryker
Raise funds for advocacy groups.
It’s a common practice for organizations to donate to LGBTQIA+-focused organizations come June, whether it’s a donation from the company itself or as a result of an organization-wide fundraiser. Some companies also do donation-matching, so employees can choose the organization that means the most to them, personally. However your organization prefers to do this, it’s always a good idea—nonprofits do incredible work for the LGBTQIA+ community, and they need money as much as they need support. Some great organizations to consider donating to are the National Center for Transgender Equality, the ACLU, The Trevor Project, and the Human Rights Campaign.
However, it’s worth noting that these organizations are relatively large, and quite often receive a significant amount of money in donations, particularly in June. Advocacy site them has a great list of smaller, statewide organizations that fight for the rights of transgender and queer people more locally, often in the form of direct aid (housing for LGBTQIA+ runaways, counseling for families of trans people, etc.). Donations to these smaller nonprofits can often go further, providing a bigger impact on your community. As they say: think globally, act locally.
Organize a write-in or call-in.
As mentioned previously in this article, nearly every state in this country is attempting to pass an anti-LGBTQ+ law this year, and a great many have succeeded. Calling or emailing your state and local lawmakers is an important and underutilized tool when it comes to making your wishes known to your representatives. Helpfully, there are also a lot of resources for making this process as easy as possible, like this website that finds all of your representatives statewide and their contact information. There are also often tools like scripts available to combat specific laws on the docket.
It may not sound like much of a party, but having a set hour this month when people can pledge to write or call their local or state representatives can have a bigger impact than many more traditional workplace Pride programs. It also communicates to your colleagues that the organization takes the inclusion of its LGBTQIA+ employees seriously. There are few things quite so welcoming than knowing that your colleagues will go to bat for you and your rights.