In recent times, there have been many proactive efforts on part of the judiciary to be more inclusive of transgender people. The Transgender Persons Act 2019 aims to extend the protection towards the inclusion of the “Third Gender” into the Indian workplace. In August 2017, the Supreme Court concluded that the right to one’s sexual orientation is at the core of the fundamental rights outlined in Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.“Equal protection demands protection of the identity of every individual without discrimination.”
“ ‘Transgender person’ means a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-man or transwoman (whether or not such person has undergone Sex Reassignment Surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy or such other therapy), person with intersex variations, genderqueer and person having such socio-cultural identities as Kinner, hijra, aravani and jogta.” -The Transgender Persons Protection of Rights Bill (2018).
The real onus lies in the implementation of the act and the judgements. The transition from a gender binary system to that of inclusion of the third gender takes some structural improvements.
Here are a few ways through which we can equip our workplaces to be more inclusive:
- As an employer, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of the legal obligations of the “Transgender Person’s Act 2019”. This will help in a smooth transition and application of the requirements.
- Develop diversity and inclusion training in a manner that effectively covers the Third gender. As the Indian Workplace was structured to include just the binary genders, the training should help the employee’s get rid of any preconceived notions that they might have.
- Like the protections given under the PoSH Act (The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal Act, 2013), organisations must place adequate grievance redressal mechanisms for transgender individuals to deal with the harassment complaints while keeping the identity of the complainant anonymous.
- While you are ensuring that all the necessary policies and protocol are adopted, develop an Employee Resource Group for the LGBTQ community in your company.
- It is important to sensitize and educate the existing workforce around gender inclusivity, assimilation in the workplace, and inclusivity for the innate character and personality of transgender individuals in the corporate environment.
- All workplace policies should be gender-neutral. Gender-neutral adoption leave and same-sex partnership benefits should also be made available. Transgender workers’ spouses, domestic partners, children and step-children should be offered the same benefits as those offered to family members of similarly situated non-transgender workers.
- Review the general policies and internal communications to ensure the language used is trans-friendly.
- Review and evaluate the documentation, hiring and recruitment procedures for discriminatory treatment of transgender people.
- Structural changes to uplift the transgender employees — such as access to facilities (including building trans-friendly toilets and changing rooms), use of their name and pronoun(s) and the application of dress codes (to supporting them to wear what is appropriate to the gender they present in at work)