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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Feds issue new guidance for trans employees

--by Robyn

While we struggle along a state at a time on the right to nondiscrimination in the workplace, having just reached 14 of them and having ongoing efforts to increase that number in Connecticut and Massachusetts, the Federal Government has issued new guidance about the employment of transpeople (
Guidance Regarding the Employment of Transgender Individuals in the Federal Workplace). Attached was information about How to Reconstruct a Personnel Folder due to a Change in Gender Identity and an FEHB Carrier Letter authorizing change of gender on insurance and health records (but noting that sex-specific care such as mammograms and prostate exams should still be covered).

The guidance comes from the Office of Personnel Management, directed by John Berry.

It is the policy of the Federal Government to treat all of its employees with dignity and respect and to provide a workplace that is free from discrimination whether that discrimination is based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity or pregnancy), national origin, disability, political affiliation, marital status, membership in an employee organization, age, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. Agencies should review their anti-discrimination policies to ensure that they afford a non-discriminatory working environment to employees irrespective of their gender identity or perceived gender non-conformity.

The guidance goes on to provide the basic definitions of the concepts of gender identity, transgender, and transition and discusses what is required for a person to transition while employed, citing the WPATH Standards of Care.
First, the individual will meet with a mental health provider to ascertain what transition steps are most appropriate to address the lack of congruity between his or her gender identity and the sex assigned to him or her at birth. Second, after appropriate evaluation and counseling, the individual may begin a course of hormone therapy, usually under the supervision of both her mental health provider and an endocrinologist. Third, after a period of time on hormone therapy, an individual will be ready to commence the “real life experience,” which is when an individual transitions to living full-time in the gender role that is consistent with his or her gender identity. It is at this point that an employer is most often made aware that an employee is transgender and undertaking a gender transition.

Gender identity health care providers recognize commencement of the real life experience as often the most important stage of transition, and, for a significant number of people, the last step necessary for them to complete a healthy gender transition. As the name suggests, the real life experience is designed to allow the transgender individual to experience living full-time in the gender role to which he or she is transitioning. Completion of at least one year of the real life experience is required prior to an individual's being deemed eligible for gender reassignment surgery.

Guidance is provided about the issues of confidentiality and privacy, dress and appearance, names and proper pronouns, sanitary and related facilities, recordkeeping, and insurance benefits.

Employees in transition who already have Federal insurance benefits must be allowed to continue their participation, and new employees must be allowed to elect participation, in their new names and genders. If the employees in transition are validly married at the time of the transition, the transition does not affect the validity of that marriage, and spousal coverage should be extended or continued even though the employee in transition has a new name and gender.

It is, unfortunately, only applicable to people who are federal employees.
Still, it's not nothing. Quotes are from
Metro Weekly.
Today's guidance will help to ensure that all federal workers -- whether fighting fires in our national forests, prosecuting federal crimes in court, conducting groundbreaking cancer research or making sure this week's paycheck gets to your mailbox -- will be treated with the fairness and dignity they deserve.

--Joe Solomonese, HRC

I'm really excited about it. It shows the commitment to hiring the best people and keeping the best people.
--Mara Keisling, NCTE


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