In this case study we’ll look at fostering an inclusive and welcoming culture for trans, non-binary, and non-gender employees within the workplace.

We heard from Amy Stanning, a longstanding member of the Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES), who has also led LGBTQ+ networks at Barclays and advises organisations on LGBTQ+ issues.

She discussed her own experiences of transitioning in the workplace, as well as the broader considerations to be made when making an inclusive culture.

Gender Identity as a Protected Characteristic

Around 5% of the UK population falls under the umbrella term of trans; 1% being trans-binary, 4% being trans-non-binary.

Gender identity and reassignment are protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.[2]

The others are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation[2]

No one characteristic takes precedence over another.

Amy explained that in the workplace, the main concerns for trans people include the logistical parts of transitioning or changing gender identity, such as changing personal records and protecting confidentiality.

Communicating the change to colleagues can also cause anxiety, as the main concern is to avoid being misgendered. This is where a trans person is referred to as their previous gender, whether that’s via their old pronouns or their ‘dead name’.

Also, the use of facilities at work can be an issue if the workplace is not prepared. Trans people such as Amy wish to use the facilities suited for their gender, rather than what they were assigned at birth.

Another concern is the prevention of bullying or harassment. This can take a multitude of forms, including name-calling, mocking, amongst a range of other discriminatory behaviour which we’ll look at later on.

Policies and Practices in the Workplace

It’s important to understand the impact of good, and bad, workplace policies on trans people.

Discrimination is not permitted in employment on grounds of gender reassignment. Protection is required from direct and indirect discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment in the provision of goods, facilities, services or premises.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) guidance recommends support should be extended to all other transgender people, i.e. those who are not intending to undergo gender reassignment or those who are not ‘out’ about their gender identity.

In order to support these individuals, organisations should have clear policies and protocols.

These statements of organisation intent should promote and curate an environment of inclusivity and fair treatment. This includes a safe place for those transitioning.

One part of this is to have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying and harassment. Paired with this, the organisation should share resources to educate employees on trans issues.

Whether educating takes the form of workshops, the sharing of resources, or other initiatives, it is vital to make staff aware of how important their language and actions can be in providing comfort for a trans colleague.

It is also important for employers to have protocols in place for the transitioning process.

When it comes to bathrooms, trans people should be allowed to use the facilities appropriate to their gender as soon as they transition to live full-time in their gender identity.

Employers should ensure that all facilities offer privacy and Public Authorities should provide unisex options for both staff and members of the public – non-binary people may prefer to use these as well.

If anyone is not comfortable sharing the facilities, they – not the trans person should use the unisex options.

As mentioned previously, ensuring sensitive data is allowed to be changed confidentially, and communicating this to other members of staff can help create a more inclusive environment.

Other processes to have in place include medical leave for appointments and any potential surgeries that need to take place.

In certain organisations where foreign travel makes up part of the work schedule, it is incredibly important there is a lot of thought put into which countries are safe for trans, or any member of the LGBTQ+ community, to travel to.

In some countries it is illegal to be transgender, sending a trans colleague there could end up putting them in serious danger.

In the UK however, attitudes are changing towards trans issues.

However, the EHRC found in their British Social Attitudes Survey 2019 that sympathy with transgender people does not necessarily equate to full acceptance of their gender identity.[3]

Training Employees on Trans Discrimination and Harassment

Amy highlighted that ‘banter’ is never an excuse or defence for harassment. It goes further than someone making a joke in poor taste, but many will use language that they don’t realise is unacceptable and offensive.

Terms and concepts to educate staff on include but are not limited to:

  • Transgender/trans+
  • Transitioning
  • Gender identity vs sexual orientation
  • Sex vs gender
  • Gender dysphoria; gender incongruence
  • Trans woman/trans feminine person
  • Trans man/trans masculine person
  • Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC)
  • Queer or Questioning
  • Intersex

It is also important to highlight what terms are unacceptable, which include but again are not limited to:

  • Sex change
  • Transsexual
  • Transsexualism
  • Female to male/Male to female
  • Trans agenda/trend/lobby
  • Transgendered
  • ‘Passing’

For more information on these terms and other helpful resources, Amy suggests:

Other suggestions for fostering an inclusive environment that can help the workplace be a safe haven for trans colleagues include speaking out about these issues publicly, educating yourself on the issues, and always treating people with respect.


[1] Stanning, Amy. 2021. GIRES. Championing Trans, Non-Binary and Non-Gender Employees Within The Workplace

[2]GOV.uk. 2010. The Equality Act 2010

[3]Equalityhumanrights.com. 2021. British Social Attitudes Survey

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Around 5% of the UK population falls under the umbrella term of trans; 1% being trans-binary, 4% being trans-non-binary. In this case study we’ll look at fostering an inclusive and welcoming culture for trans, non-binary, and non-gender employees within the workplace.

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