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Many thanks to all who worked on this guide to create an inclusive, safe and respectful workplace. A Guide for Employees and Managers.
We strongly believe in a workplace that reflects our values and ethics: The diversity of our people and the ideas they generate are the source of our innovation. However, the process of transitioning to a new gender identity is an area that we have not focused on sufficiently in the past. It is our hope that this guide will provide some useful information to help our employees and their managers during the process to ensure a healthy and safe workplace based on respect.
For those of you who are transitioning to a new gender identity, we offer you our support and best wishes. To the managers who are assisting their employees throughout their transition, we thank you.
Due to the anticipated evolution of current law around gender issues, these guidelines will be reviewed within one year, as necessary. Please keep in mind that vocabulary and definitions are continuously evolving. While consideration has been given throughout these guidelines to ensure they are respectful and inclusive, it is understood that language may have evolved since the creation of this document. Therefore, some of the language may not reflect current terminology at the time of reading.
Definitions and terminology provided in this guide are not meant to label individuals, but rather to assist employees and managers understand some of the terminology they may come across when working with individuals who are transgender or going through a transition. It is important that individuals can tell us what words they would like used for them and their circumstance. This fosters respect in the workplace.
Additional information will be provided on "inclusive language". PSPC is making a conscious effort to be mindful to use inclusive language in all of our internal and external communications.
Inclusive language avoids reinforcing stereotypes and assumptions of gender of people who perform various roles. If you are transgender, have a transgender colleague or employee or care about ensuring an open, diverse and supportive workplace at PSPC , where every PSPC employee feels valued, respected and understood, this guide was designed for you. I am of the opinion that all PSPC employees would benefit from reading this guide.
It is comprehensive, thorough, powerful and written from a diverse and well-rounded working group. PSPC is committed to equitable employment practices that support participation by all. As such, the purpose of this guide is to provide a safe, respectful and inclusive work environment for all employees, including trans and gender variant employees.
At PSPC , employees and managers have a shared obligation to promote the dignity, respect and equity of trans and gender variant employees by following these guidelines. One of PSPC 's core values is treating colleagues and employees with respect.
Reactions by colleagues and managers can have a great impact on the success of their transitioning. The objectives of these guidelines are to:. To set the tone for the context of the creation of this guide, the following story is an inspirational, personal account of a PSPC employee who has kindly shared her journey. This type of sharing takes courage and will certainly be helpful for those who may have similar paths in their future.
My name is Eve, but when I was born they named me Nicolas. Although I have nothing against the name, the problem is that it's a boy's name and I am not a boy, I'm a girl. So why did my parents give me that name, well… my body was that of a baby boy's, but my brain was that of a baby girl. My parents had no way of knowing this of course. Now I'm 36 years old and have been living this way all my life. Wait let me rephrase, I have been trying to survive living this way all my life.
The reason why I say survive is because I feel like I never lived before. I was simply going through life depressed, unhappy, sad, and unfulfilled and just waiting for the day it would all end. What I was seeing in the mirror and what people were seeing was not even close to who I felt I was inside. Nothing made sense, and it was around that age that I started telling my parents that I wished I would never have been born.
I didn't choose to be born and I was frustrated and unhappy but mostly I was scared of what life was going to be like. At an age when most kids were playing with toys and making friends and having no thoughts of introspection, I was already trying to figure out how I was going to manage living like this, living in the wrong body. Back then, I thought I was alone in the world and that there was no one else like this. There was no way I was going to tell anyone that I was really a girl!
They would clearly tell my parents that I had some deep mental problem and I didn't want to be different, I simply wanted to be me. The first time I was alone in front a computer with internet access, I started searching to see if there were people like me. Back then, often the picture of transgender people was not very flattering. I started to let my hair grow, and considered telling someone, anyone, because who didn't matter at that time. I believed that whoever I told, they would eventually tell someone else and that my secret would eventually be known by everyone at which point I would need to transition.
Would I need to leave school? Would we need to move to another city? I remember sitting in class and looking at my friends and wondering what would they think? Would they start talking behind my back? Absolutely they would and worse yet, I knew no one would want to be friends with me anymore.
I would be completely alone. Then there were the bullies. Surely I would be a victim of bullies as I had been in elementary school when I really didn't fit in.
Back then I couldn't play with girls because I wasn't one. As for the boys, well they ran after me to beat me up. At least I learned to run really fast. In high school I was afraid to tell anyone. I started thinking about how everyone would react. My friends and my teachers, my parents, sister and my sister's friend, people at the grocery store, my aunts and uncles, people I knew and even the people I didn't know that I met on the street. I decided that I simply could not do it even though I knew others were doing it.
At the time I simply didn't have the courage. I felt that I was the "problem". That everyone else was "normal" but I was not. And I decided that happiness was simply something I would never be blessed with.
I even kept a rope attached to the ceiling in the basement of my parent's home so that, should I ever get up the courage to do it, everything would be ready. But that courage never came and to this day I wonder if it was really because I didn't have the courage to take my own life or if it was because I still had a glimmer of hope in my heart that one day I might find happiness?
I meet my wife, and spent those years with the most wonderful person in the world. I had everything I thought I needed to be happy but happiness still eluded me because I was still living a lie. I was burnt out and depressed. For the first time I realized that I would not have to kill myself after all simply because the stress and anxiety I had been living with all my life was slowly killing me. It was then that I realized that I only had one choice left.
I had to find the courage to transition. I took four months off work. During that time I contemplated the idea of quitting the job I loved because I couldn't bear the thought of telling my coworkers.
The reality is, however, that transitioning is expensive even if you have insurance coverage and I really needed this job. During those four months, I ran thousands of scenarios through my head imagining how people would react. From coworkers to the commissionaires downstairs to the guy at the convenience store, just like I did in high school.
The difference was that this time I decided to take a leap of faith and return to work and tell them all who I really am. I wanted to give you the context of my life before coming out as transgender so you can understand what happened next. Life is not easy when you live in a body that doesn't fit who you are. I can assure you that any employee starting a transition has done everything they can to fight this feeling at the cost of their own happiness, but the reality is that you cannot be anything other than who you really are.
It never goes away and it does not fade with time. When I met with my manager to tell her what I was doing and the reason why I was doing it she simply understood and didn't judge me.
She did everything she could in order to support me and was respectful in every possible way. Without her initial reaction and her continued support, I would not be writing this and most probably would not be working for the Government of Canada.
She changed my perspective on a lot of things. She made a difference in my life and because of that I hope I can help others the way she helped me. The coworkers and managers that I feared so much, turned out to be the biggest allies I could ask for in the most challenging time of my life. I was saving my own life by finally admitting who I really was but to do so took a huge amount of courage and faith that I would be accepted by my coworkers. To my amazement and relief they not only accepted it but they embraced it.
They understood how important this was to me and decided to support me and walk with me through this adventure. Each and every one of them made a difference in my life. This is something I will never forget and will cherish for the rest of my life.
Transitioning is far from easy. The employee doing the transition won't have the approval of everyone around them, whether it's family, friends or even society to some extent. But coworkers can make the workplace a safe place for them.