It’s amazing to see that people from all walks of life have joined the fight against gender inequality. Society has slowly let go of past prejudices towards the LGBTQ+ community and has become more aware of the issues they face. But despite how the world has progressed, there’s still much work to do, especially in the workplace.
Did you know that 20% of LGBTQ+ Americans have experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity during job applications? Offensive acts and remarks are highly prevalent in the professional setting, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are commonly on the receiving end of such appalling behaviors.
Many offenders are not aware that the statements they’re making are disrespectful, ultimately leading to tension in the workplace. Being subject to these acts won’t only hinder work performance but also affect one’s overall well-being.
The good news is bigotry in all forms can be eliminated by raising awareness. With the world becoming more informed about the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, employers have taken the initiative by safeguarding their staff. If you want to promote equality in your company, you can start by having a clear understanding of gender identity.
What is gender identity, and why does it matter?
Unfortunately, many people think that gender identity and sexual orientation are the same. While both contribute to a person’s overall sexuality, they have different meanings altogether.
Gender identity refers to how you see yourself regardless of your biological sex. It can be the same or different from your assigned gender (male or female), and this plays a vital role in how you express yourself as an individual.
On the other hand, sexual orientation touches on whom you are attracted to, romantically or sexually. Regardless of gender identity, you can be drawn to people of the same, opposite, neither, or both sexes. Knowing your sexual identity is essential since it can significantly influence your relationships and emotional well-being.
Understanding the two terminologies and their implications will allow you to address and prevent gender issues in the workplace. To help create a safe work environment, the infographic below discusses the different gender identities you will encounter in the office.
8 Gender Identities You May Encounter in the Workplace
Gender is fluid and non-binary. Believing that people can only be straight or gay is ignorant since it denies a person’s view towards his/her sexuality. As you go about daily life in the office, it’s essential to know the different gender identities you may encounter to ensure that your workplace becomes a safe space for everyone.
Also known as gender-neutral, this term applies to individuals who do not identify with a particular gender. People who belong to this group can’t be simply categorized as male or female since they present themselves in various ways—some like wearing androgynous attire, while others dress up according to their assigned sex.
People who identify themselves as bigender have two gender identities. They may experience these identities at the same time or lean towards one depending on present circumstances. These individuals take up masculine, feminine, and non-binary characteristics and do not limit themselves to cultural roles and norms.
A person whose gender identity is parallel with his/her assigned sex is categorized as cisgender. Simply put, males who identify as men or females who identify as women are labeled as such. However, it’s important to know that cisgender should not be confused with the term straight since it is used to describe one’s sexual orientation.
Genderfluid individuals do not have a fixed gender identity. Their gender identity varies over time, and the way they express themselves depends on how they feel at the moment. These individuals may present masculine traits today and exhibit feminine characteristics the next month.
5. Gender Questioning
Understanding one’s gender identity takes time. Given that some individuals may still be processing what they feel about themselves, it’s not fair to suddenly place labels on them. With this in mind, people who are still processing their gender identity can be referred to as gender questioning.
Non-binary is a general term used to describe people whose gender identity isn’t solely male or female. People who are non-binary may overlap with the other gender identities on this list.
Pangender is a type of non-binary gender that refers to a vast and diverse selection of genders in one individual that may go on indefinitely. This person may experience these genders all at the same time or be fluid between them. The gender/s intensity may also fluctuate.
Transgender individuals are people whose gender identity is not aligned with their assigned sex at birth. Members of this group may have fully shifted to their preferred gender identity or are in the process of transitioning.
Offensive or Inappropriate Terms to Avoid
Discrimination comes in many different forms. While physical abuse isn’t common in the workplace, derogatory slurs and remarks are highly prevalent. To give you a better picture, 53% of LGBTQ+ employees have received or witness verbal discrimination at work. If you want to have a peaceful work environment, you should be aware of these potentially offensive terms.
The word faggot should never be used casually. It’s a derogatory term with a rich (yet hateful) history, used to insult members of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s important not to throw it around even if you mean it as a joke.
- Gay or Homosexual Lifestyle
This phrase denotes that people who identify as gay are only going through a phase. While the process of defining one’s gender identity can be a complicated matter, keep in mind that it shouldn’t be simplified as a lifestyle choice.
Using the word homosexual can be offensive to people who have an emotional or sexual interest towards members of the same sex. When addressing these individuals, it’s best to use gay, lesbian, or their preferred term instead.
- No homo
“No homo” is commonly used by men who do not want to be perceived as LGBTQ+. They may insert this phrase after showing affection to another male, which reinforces the idea that being gay, lesbian, or queer is a bad thing.
- Sexual Preference
The term sexual preference suggests that being gay, lesbian, or bisexual is a choice that can be changed and fixed. Using sexual orientation is a formal and better way to describe an individual’s attraction to the same or opposite sex.
- That’s So Gay
This phrase is commonly used in casual conversations, but it can be problematic. More often than not, people use this expression to shame a person’s interests or describe something negatively. Just like “no homo,” it promotes the idea that being gay is a negative thing.
Using the word tranny or she-male is a direct insult to people who identify themselves as transgender. Members of the trans community may choose to claim these terms, but you shouldn’t use them if you do not identify as such.
Be an Ally
Global office culture has evolved drastically in recent years. Now that gender diversity in the workplace is at an all-time high, employers and colleagues should strive to make their office a haven. An organization that places great value on equality can build a strong company culture and gain a competitive advantage over time.
If you’re witnessing or experiencing gender-based discrimination in your workplace, do not hesitate to take action. Apart from reporting the issue to your organization’s leaders, getting a gender discrimination attorney at Shegerian and Associates will help you manage your situation.
Did You Know?
Verdict in Gender Discrimination Case
|Dr. Pinter-Brown was the former director of the Lymphoma Department at UCLA Medical. After she began raising concerns of harassment by a male colleague, she was targeted in various audits, had research privileges suspended, her title stricken, and her reputation harmed. The University made no significant efforts to remedy the situation, forcing Dr. Pinter-Brown to “play dead” at work to avoid confrontation before ultimately resigning her employment with UCLA. The jury found in her favor for her claims of gender discrimination and gender retaliation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.|