Pride month, held annually in June, will come and go every year, but the LGBTQIA+* people in your life need your support year-round. As a transgender woman actuary, I’d like to discuss several things actuarial colleagues can do all year long to promote a safe environment for their transgender coworkers.
Use the Correct Pronouns
In everyday situations, support really comes down to respecting the individual and who they are. Use of the person’s name and pronouns is vital to do that, even when the transgender person isn’t in the conversation. If someone uses incorrect pronouns when addressing a trans person, politely correcting their mistake, instead of waiting for the trans person to do so, is also a very simple and helpful step to making someone feel included and respected. For many transgender people, this includes using their name and pronouns correctly when talking about a time before they transitioned. As I like to tell people, there wasn’t ever a time when I wasn’t a woman named Alyssa, I just didn’t feel safe enough to tell people who I really was. Understanding that perspective might help you in internalizing that the person’s gender identity isn’t changing, they are simply aligning their public truth with their private one.
Assess Your Workplace Environment
Next, for those who manage people, here are a few questions to help you assess how supportive your company might be for a trans person who decides to transition. When a transgender employee comes out at the office, it can be a very stressful time for them. Knowledge of workplace changes that need to be made to help accommodate and support a transgender employee will help ease some of the tension. What systems can their name be updated in right away and which ones must wait for the legal process to run its course? Does your company have a procedure in place for notifying their team? Will HR make the company-wide announcement or is that responsibility placed on the employee themself? If the employee is medically transitioning, how well does your healthcare cover gender affirming procedures? Transition procedures can be time consuming–do you offer enough flexibility so they can get to frequent appointments and still be a productive member of your team? Every single trans person’s experience is different, so some of these questions may not apply to all of them but having a framework at the corporate policy level that ensures a good experience for transitioning individuals at your company will go a long way to creating an atmosphere where people feel safe being their authentic selves at the office.
Understanding LGBTQIA+ challenges in the workplace cannot be a task for the community by itself, it will take the effort of allies as well, which is also true for racial minorities, women, and other historically marginalized groups.
While the celebration of pride month each year in June raises the awareness of LGBTQIA+ challenges, it is important to remember that the work of promoting diversity and inclusion in the actuarial profession and our industry does not end there. It requires a commitment from all of us, every day of the year, to build a future where everyone can be their authentic selves in all facets of their lives, including the workplace.
* Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, and asexual
The views and opinions expressed in this blog post belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Casualty Actuarial Society.
Thanks for this helpful and thoughtful piece. I appreciate it.
Well done, Alyssa. I learned something from your post. Thank you.
This was a great article. Thanks for sharing these simple and important thoughts.
Thank you all for your comments. I really appreciate the feedback and I’m glad to know people find it helpful!