How to Step Up Your Allyship for Transgender Colleagues at Work

Ritu Bhasin stands at the front of an audience facing an audience member holding a microphone

As you may know, on November 20th we mark Transgender Day of Remembrance. This annual observance honors the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost because of anti-transgender violence.

This day is a painful reminder of the ongoing oppression that people who are transgender experience, and it underscores why consistent, active advocacy and allyship for the transgender community is so critical.

In the context of the workplace, many transgender professionals continue to express concerns about sharing their identities because of a fear of facing bias and inequities. They rightfully worry about experiencing discrimination, stigma, micro-inequities and a lack of belonging in the workplace.

Given these concerns, as DEI professionals and leaders, we must move away from performative allyship and do more to support transgender inclusion in the workplace.

On that note, I wanted to share a few things that leaders can do to ensure that they are supporting transgender inclusion throughout the year and not just on November 20th.

3 Ways to Promote Transgender Inclusion at Work

Firstly, deepen your understanding of key principles of allyship in the context of transgender inclusion. bci has plenty of great resources on the foundations of allyship, including this blog post about being an effective ally in the workplace and our free allyship tip sheet. I highly recommend checking out allyship expert Melinda Briana Epler’s excellent resources including her book How to Be an Ally, and my interview on allyship with trans-rights activist Dru Levasseur — it’s a must watch!

Another takeaway is to educating yourself on the importance of talking about pronouns in the workplace and brushing up on the latest research about best practices for creating a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ — and especially transgender — team members. Some of the bci teams’ favorite links include this podcast, this blog post and this report from Pride at Work.

And finally, it’s so important that leaders focus on cultivating psychological safety in the workplace. By doing so, you’ll create a workplace culture that is a safer space for your transgender colleagues to bring their Authentic Selves to work while feeling more supported, included and empowered.

I hope you find these takeaways to be helpful in your efforts to support transgender inclusion throughout the year. There is still so much work to be done, but the most important thing we can do is get started.

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Dr. Komal Bhasin, MSW, MHSc, DocSocSci

Komal is bci’s Senior DEI Consultant and Mental Health Expert-in-Residence and an accomplished DEI facilitator, coach, and strategist. Komal has over 20 years of experience in providing strategic and advisory guidance and program development across a range of sectors, with a particular concentration in mental health and racial inclusion. Komal is also the founder of Insayva Inc., a social enterprise focused on providing accessible DEI and health equity support to charities and non-profit organizations.

Komal has extensive experience in creating and delivering programming in a range of DEI areas, including unconscious bias, cultural competence, mental health inclusion, psychological safety, and allyship. She is passionate about driving transformational change in workplaces and has worked closely with bci clients — corporations, professional services firms, health care providers, and educational institutions — to embed cultures of DEI within their organizations.

Komal has provided one-on-one inclusion coaching to hundreds of senior leaders and brings a unique approach that is informed by her background as a therapist. She is able to expertly handle sensitive conversations and situations and works with leaders to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to advance racial/ethnocultural, gender, and mental health-related equity across teams and organizations. Komal also offers a performance coaching program designed specifically for BIPOC leaders. This program aims to help BIPOC leaders harness their place, position, and identity to thrive in the workplace and beyond. Komal is a qualified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI).

As bci’s Mental Health Expert-in-Residence, Komal offers tremendous expertise around workplace mental health. As a doctoral trained mental health clinician, certified health executive, and registered social worker, Komal has assisted organizations looking to advance employee mental health inclusion and well-being through offering programming on inclusive dialogue, anti-stigma, burnout prevention, psychological safety, resilience, and self-care. Komal is committed to advancing mental health and wellness across the life course; she currently serves on the board of the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario and previously served on the board of Children’s Mental Health Ontario and the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

When Komal is not working, you’ll find her painting, cooking or snuggling with her cat.