With changing times, employers need to adjust their policies and even personal approach to issues in the 21st century. Luckily, the (the Code) provides protection for employees and guidance for employers in municipal settings. The code works to protect municipal employees from discrimination and harassment based on a wide variety of grounds, such as gender expression and gender identity.
Municipal managers must always respect their employees and colleagues by using the appropriate gender labels in the workspace. Let’s talk a bit more about how you can accommodate transgender and gender non-conforming employees in the municipal work arena.
First, let’s define what is meant by gender expression and gender identity.
The former is a person’s public presentation of their gender. This refers to outward appearance, body language, and voice. Similarly, a chosen name, a gender label, and a pronoun of choice are also ways of expressing one’s gender.
One the other hand, a gender identity differs in that it’s an individual’s internal experience of gender. It’s a very personal experience and is different from sexual orientation. A person’s gender identity could be the same or different from the gender they were assigned at birth.
Now that you have understood this…somewhat…let’s talk about your responsibilities as an employer when dealing with gender identity and gender expression.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission states that every individual has the right to define their gender identity as they see fit. Seeing this, they must be treated according to the gender they live, and this has nothing to do with whether they’ve undergone surgery or updated their documents. As municipal employers, you must accommodate trans and other employees, up to the point of undue hardship. Don’t know what that means? It means municipal supervisors and managers must address their trans supervisees and employees using their correct pronoun, the correct gender labels, and provide access to change rooms and washrooms based on their employees’ lived-in gender. That settled, the dress code policies should also trans employees to dress according to their gender expression.
Now if you’re a municipal manager, it’s your responsibility and duty to keep confidential all gender identifying information about your employees. As a municipal employer, you’re responsible for implementing a non-intrusive policy for trans employees, who want to change their name of gender label on their records.
Need more advice on what to include in your gender labels policy? Read more here.