Tell Your Employer You’re Transgender?


TRANSI’ve been on hormones for almost four months, look quite masculine still, but do have very long, feminine hair and wear androgynous clothes, some light makeup, etc. What I’m confused about is when to, or if I even should, mention that I’m trans before getting hired.

I believe that it is important to bring it up, seeing as how it will be affecting my work to some extent — I’ll continue to transition and look more feminine, and I don’t think I will look clearly female for a while yet. I also may make some of the relevant legal changes relatively soon. If my employer discriminates against me on the basis of this, there are no laws protecting me against that even if I’m already an employee. By telling employers early, it seems to me like I’m weeding bad fits out as much as they’re weeding out bad candidates.

A: Well, first, assuming that you’re in the U.S., you do have protections under federal law. In 2012, the EEOC held that discrimination against transgender people violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In addition, 18 states and D.C. ban discrimination based on gender identity. That doesn’t mean that companies don’t still discriminate, but I did want to let you know that there’s some intended protection in the law.

As for whether and when to mention it: I think you’ve got a bunch of different options here.

First and foremost, you’re not obligated to disclose it at all. It won’t affect your work and it shouldn’t be relevant to them. And it’s possible that you could get a sense of how comfortable a workplace this is likely to be for you by asking about things like non-discrimination policies and how LGBT-friendly the work culture is.

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