Shannon Scott, Founding President of United Equality Consulting, is committed to helping teams answer an essential question: “How can we best facilitate transgender inclusion?”.
Through showing companies how they can bring LGBTQ equality to the workplace – with a special emphasis on building transgender affirming workspaces – she empowers them to become both more empathetic and productive.
At our Talent Innovation Summit, Shannon gave us a glimpse into exactly how she does it. While bravely sharing her own story, she challenged our audience to engage in the work that transgender inclusion demands. Below, you’ll find four action items that Shannon gave our attendees. But don’t stop there. Watch her full session, and you’ll see exactly why our audience couldn’t stay in their seats once her talk was done.
1) Understand what makes up gender
Too often, Shannon finds that people don’t understand what gender is. “Gender is made up of three things: your biological sex, your gender identity, and your gender expression,” she explains. “Biological sex is the physical manifestation of our gender. A lot of times, people think that this is where gender ends. But it doesn’t.” In reality, gender is also defined by gender identity, or who we feel we are. That means it’s possible to be assigned male at birth, but ultimately identify as female. Gender identity happens in our brains, and it’s important to realize that some people may identify as both genders, and some may identify as neither. The final component of gender is gender expression, or how you present your gender to the community around you. Expression is heavily based upon societal gender norms, and it manifests itself in ways such as your demeanor, or how you speak.
Shannon reminds us that these three factors – biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression – aren’t necessarily connected. Instead, they may all diverge from one another. For example, both your gender identity and biological sex could be female, but you may express your gender by wearing masculine clothing. In reality, emphasizes Shannon, gender is much more complex than many people think. It’s essential to understand its multitude of nuances.
2) Put pronouns in your email signature at work
Why? Because doing so is a simple yet powerful and meaningful statement. People will take notice if you change your email signature, which allows you to start the conversation around what drove you to do it. “We can’t always assume someone’s gender based on how we think they look, or their first name,” Shannon reiterates. If you make it a point to include pronouns in your email signature, you make it clear that you’re a safe person with whom to talk about gender.
3) Initiate a transgender inclusion policy
As you begin your quest to embed transgender inclusion into your culture, Shannon recommends that you first see if you have a transgender inclusion policy. Is it written down? If not, start the conversation around creating one. “We’re all equal, and we all deserve respect,” Shannon says. Promote the need for equality by putting it into writing and proudly displaying it.
4) Create a safe space for everyone to use the bathroom
Gender is neither binary nor static. Some people are gender fluid, and their identities drift back and forth throughout their life. “Where do these people go to the bathroom?”, asks Shannon. “They go wherever they feel safe.” It’s on all of us to ensure that no matter how a person identifies, they never feel uncomfortable or threatened. A simple gesture – such as changing the signs on your restrooms to be inclusive to all gender identities – is a great place to start.
At the end of her session, Shannon inspired the audience to take action by sharing her own story. “I started my transition. And it was hard. And it took more courage than I ever thought I had. But now, I’m happy,” she shared. “You don’t have to go to war to find the courage to do something wonderful. You can find it here. I challenge you to find that courage.”
Thank you, Shannon, for helping us remember the crucial role we play in pushing transgender inclusion forward. If you want to watch the full recording of Shannon’s moving and inspiring session, you can find it here.