Diversity Guides

Brian McNaught's Gay & Transgender Issues in the Workplace Blog

Archive for the ‘Proper Terminology’ Category

What Makes a Woman a Female?

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Like the Star Trek Voyager, corporations today are going where no man, woman, or transgender person has gone before. They are exploring how to understand, value, and include the diversity represented on the gender continuum. Many companies pioneered by forging the right non-discrimination statements covering gender identity and expression, but as might be expected, few of them realize the full scope and implications of their policies. Many Human Resource, and Diversity and Inclusion, professionals are still uncomfortable explaining to others the enormous difference between gender identity and gender expression, and most corporate executives appreciate being able to just say "LGBT" rather than the word "transgender". Despite this current lack of complete understanding and comfort, companies around the globe are light years ahead of the rest of society in charting this new territory. Read more…

Religious Beliefs: What Do You Do in This Situation?

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

One of the most powerful tools we have to help men and women in the workplace become confident and competent in proactively including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender colleagues in corporate life is reading or watching a dramatization of a typical problem and creating a good course of action.

For the next three weeks, I’m sharing scenarios that help illustrate common challenges that gay and transgender employees face in feeling truly valued. Twenty-five years ago, when we first began corporate diversity training on these issues, the unwelcoming experiences of gay and transgender people were more dramatic, such as seeing offensive graffiti in the restroom, or finding their workstation or personal property vandalized. As more and more people have put faces on being gay or transgender, the open hostility has been replaced by subtle but no less alienating behaviors. Read more…

Can We Compare Our Oppression?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

In response to my bringing up the issue of racism in a recent piece on homophobia and transphobia, I heard from one reader who objected to my making any comparison. Read more…

Wrong Charges Against Letterman

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

There was a recent uproar over a skit on the Late Show with David Letterman, with most national gay and transgender organizations charging transphobia. Though the joke was about Amanda Simpson, a transsexual woman appointed by President Obama to a government post, the offense was rooted in homophobia, not transphobia. It isn’t helpful to a nation just learning about transgender issues to confuse them with the inappropriate use of a word.

On the program in question, announcer Alan Kalter ran from the stage in horror when Letterman announced that Simpson was born male. The humor was supposed to come from Kalter realizing that he had been intimate with a woman without knowing that he had been with someone born male. His reaction of disgust was not to Simpson’s sex reassignment surgery but to his horror that he had been involved with a man. That’s homophobia—the fear and hatred of homosexuality in others or in ourselves. Transphobia is a fear and hatred of the transsexuality of others or of ourselves. Read more…