Diversity Guides

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

Archive for January, 2010

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…

The Greatest Generation of Workers

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Much has been made—and rightly so—of the fortitude of the generation that fought World War II, but little is said of their children, the greatest generation of workers. At no time in human history have people been required to stretch so far beyond their emotional comfort zones to understand and value others who represent many differences, to be relocated so often, to be forced to learn new skills in order to survive, and to lack so much security in their jobs.

In the past 50 years, the average person in most Western cultures has been called upon to treat with professional respect as an equal team member people they were raised since childhood to fear and hate. This generation of workers has done so not without struggle but more so with grace, acceptance, and understanding. And no one says to them, "Thank you." This same generation has been forced to give up white, male, Christian, and heterosexual privilege. Their families have needed to be flexible enough to change schools, doctors, dentists, and all else that was familiar in order to accommodate reassignments. And few employees could trust that the company they signed on to serve would maintain ownership, size, purpose, or benefits. 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…

A Parent’s Love Trumps Bias

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

It appears likely that I’ll be doing some work on gay and transgender workplace issues with corporate senior managers in Tokyo, Japan and in Mumbai, and Delhi, India this year. Anyone who is attuned to the potential power of education and love shares my excitement about the possibilities this presents for positively impacting the lives of gay and transgender people and their families there. As has been true throughout all of history, commerce has provided one of the primary vehicles for cultural change in the world.

That is not to say that I see these Marco Polo voyages as means of secretly engaging in social engineering. I’m just aware—as happened with my trips to Singapore and Hong Kong—that professional presentations on the need to value diversity at work have a way of enlightening the lives of people in their homes, too. After my two-hour presentation in Singapore, I spent two more hours standing with women from the workplace who wanted to talk about their children and other loved ones. It is indeed the heart of the mother and the father that prompts breakthroughs in attitudes and beliefs. Their innate desire to protect their offspring makes them more open to hear about the challenges their children face in the world. Read more…