This informal CPD article, ‘How to support Trans and Non-binary people’ was provided by the LGBT Foundation, a national charity delivering advice, support and information services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities. This article will help you to support Trans and Non-Binary people at home, at work and in the community.
Supporting Trans and Non-binary people
Firstly, it is important to understand what allyship specifically looks for trans and non-binary people and issues. A good place to start is using inclusive language – e.g. using gender-neutral pronouns or the word ‘partner’ if you aren’t sure how someone identifies or how their partner identifies. It’s important to reflect on and challenge your own assumptions and practice accepting and believing the different experiences of others.
Another important way to demonstrating allyship is challenging discrimination and transphobia when you see it. This can be difficult but makes a significant difference when we want to change the culture of the environment.
How do I support someone transitioning in the workplace?
Have a conversation with the person about what they need; how would they prefer this to be announced to the team, are they comfortable being approached for questions, what support would they like to see? The individual should lead this process. Even if someone appears to open up about their trans status, it must always be their decision about who to share this information with.
‘Outing’ someone as trans could place them at risk of discrimination. Some trans people are ‘out’ to everyone, some rarely wish to be ‘out’ at all. Most trans people are happy being ‘out’ in some situations or to some people, but not everywhere.
It is important to consider confidentiality and how comfortable the individual is with being open and to whom they are being open with. There are also practical things to consider for example update staff records and making sure items such as name badges, email address, name on website have been looked at and updated. Another practical task is to ensure there are gender-neutral bathroom facilities in the building.
There are steps to take to making the working environment for inclusive and comfortable for the person transitioning. It is important to ensure staff are trained in trans inclusion and inclusive language - you may also wish to encourage staff to put pronouns on signatures. Enforce a Zero Tolerance approach to transphobia and deliberate misgendering. Illustrate a clear plan for incidents to both the individual and staff. Create an approachable safe space for the person transitioning to ask any questions or air any concerns with senior leadership. It is also crucial to create an approachable safe space for other staff who have questions or any concerns about how to support the individual.
Finally, remember that not all transgender people will go through a medical transition. For those that do it is important to agree a support plan of what they need e.g. being able to go to appointments, leave for surgeries. It’s okay if you don’t have all the knowledge and information, make sure you know where you can signpost them for extra support if necessary.
How do I support a Trans and Non-Binary family member at home?
If a member of your family has come out as trans and non-binary, it is important to show support and respect to their journey. Continue to use the correct name, gender and pronouns that they have shared and correcting others when they do not.
If other family members are struggling to accept the person’s identity, it is important to challenge any discriminatory statements “I don’t agree with you and here is why...” and introduce facts and counter-arguments where possible – the focus should be on why it is important to be inclusive and respectful of people’s identities. Finally, encourage the family member to seek safety, support and affirmation from LGBT spaces and helplines.
We hope this article was helpful. For more information from LGBT Foundation, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.