How to Build a Trans-Inclusive Work Environment: Three Key Lessons Every Employer Can Learn From Chaz Bono

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Last year, publication of Chaz Bono’s book “Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man” generated unprecedented interest among mainstream media outlets in the challenges faced by transgender communities. Although the media attention surrounding Bono has focused predominantly on the social and physical aspects of his gender transition, in a May 2011 interview, he told New York Magazine the most pressing issue facing the trans community is workplace discrimination.

Studies certainly show that transgender individuals disproportionately experience both unemployment and workplace mistreatment, and, currently, no federal law expressly prohibits discrimination in employment based on gender identity. Nonetheless, in the absence of any federal law, legal protections are emerging for trans employees at state and local levels. In fact, in 2011, four states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Nevada and Hawaii – enacted legislation outlawing discrimination against transgender workers, which brought the total number of states with transinclusive non-discrimination laws to 16.

In light of these emerging legal protections, this article focuses on how employers can build a transgender-inclusive work environment with three key strategies from Bono’s book.

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