There are far too many protections people require to work. Instead of reframing Human Resources issues as Company issues, we allow our institutions to continue to discriminate based on gender identity and sexuality. Leadership desires to have their organization accepted by society. Even as someone certified in carrying out Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practices, I know far too well the biases that non-traditional and unique people face.
1) When you finally get an interview. Depending on what state you’re living in and the Organization you are interviewing for, those responsible for hiring can still determine that their workplace is not ready to deal with “the trans issue”. Even someone who appears genderqueer will be excluded as potential hires because “the face” of an organization must be reflective of their values.
2) Gender Affirming Surgery. Growing up in the age of plastic surgery for the sake of beauty has jaded me. That, and growing up in the valley of the dolls. My first thought is always why? What was the need to enhance yourself? And this comes mostly from a place of knowing people who have had surgeries for purely aesthetic reasons. (I know fewer people who have had plastic surgery for repairing or rebuilding themselves after an accident.) These people are cis hetero women. They had breast augmentation and liposuction. It was in order for them to feel better about themselves. What I later found is that these procedures needed to be performed again because… Life happens. And they are no happier for it. The people I am now learning from are trans women and men who want to affirm the gender they identify with by augmenting the body they have. It is not simply as superficial fix. We used to call this gender reassignment surgery, but, for good reason, we are using language that reveals a different trope.
For transgender people, choices in surgeries means choices in life. These choices are not rooted in looking appealing for a wealthy person to marry and keep. They are rooted in staying alive. Many of us who do not adhere to gender norms consider, on a daily basis, how we will be perceived by the public. This perception has everything to do with safety and the ability to move around one’s community without harm.
3) We educate trans and non-binary students. I prepare them to go out into a world that abjectly rejects them. Especially for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). What a farce! I’m not as concerned about their employment when they go for local jobs or work at Forever 21. But what happens when you’re 25 and beyond. The stakes are higher for employees, but institutional stakeholders remain gatekeepers of what they believe others will accept from them.
4) You don’t have to accept it for it to be true. Trans men and women exist. Non-binary people exist. No matter how rigid your religious or cultural affiliations, the fact is that which exists and is tangible IS. We are proof. The problem with this reality is that not everyone can accept it. At the very least we could ask to be tolerated but given our penchant for violence towards things that we do not understand, toleration is not required. Dignity for all is required. Integrity requires that all people who seek employment can be employed because they are capable. Not because they reflect back to us what we want to see and how we want to feel. Validating institutions over human rights.