questions to ask potential employers to determine how trans affirming they are

a dark blue rectangular with three pink questions marks shaded with white to the left of text that reads "questions to ask potential employers to determine how trans affirming they are" in light blue. in the bottom right of the image, text in the same light blue reads "kymagdalene.com".

hello, loved ones. i’ve been thinking a lot about how trans folks (and allies/accomplices) can determine whether an organization where they’re interviewing for a job is trans affirming.

getting into an organization just to find out that it’s cissexist as shit and, often, unwilling to change is very awful and i want us to be saved from that if at all we can afford it. i know that jobs are hard to come by for trans folks and more so during the pandemic, but if any of us are ever in a position to be able to prioritize our safety in this way, i’d like us to have some tools to do so.

toward that end, i’ve put together a list of questions we can ask potential employers to determine their degree of trans affirmation and make our decision of whether to work from them with as much knowledge as possible.

  • do you have a written policy for how this organization supports employees who will transition during their employment? ask to see it! it’s a good plan to get eyes on it because people can claim anything. get that evidence!
  • does your insurance plan include coverage for medically transitioning? ask to see this, too.
  • do these facilities have gender neutral restrooms?
  • how often do you hold cultural competency trainings regarding trans issues? who gives these trainings and what are the priorities of the trainings? ideally, trans cultural competency trainings are part of the organization’s onboarding process and are also held periodically throughout the year. you’ll want to make sure that you feel you can trust the people/organization giving the trainings. priorities for the training should include an anti-racist gender lens, guiding trainees to a gender expansive view of the world, and upholding the validity of non-binary identity/ies. you may have some other things you want the trainings to prioritize. add to this list as necessary.
  • what is this organization’s understanding of gender justice and its place in furthering it? how does this organization incorporate gender justice into its daily operations? i suggest sitting with these questions to determine what answers are important to you to receive from potential employers about them. for my part, i want to know that any organization i’m considering working in understands the value of trans perspectives and values its trans employees (and clients, as applicable). i also want to know that the organization understands that gender is a large concept that contains multitudes of identities or lack thereof and acts accordingly. it’s important that potential employers are able to be specific about how their organization incorporates gender justice in their work. a lot of nice, pretty words can be said but without examples that resonate with you, they don’t mean anything.

even with this list of questions as a toolbox, you may not be able to find out whether an organization is a less cissexist place to work than average. you may not be answered honestly or folks may think their organization does something or believes something it doesn’t actually do or believe. word of mouth from other trans folks working at places is still the best chance at knowing what you’re getting yourself into. but i know that having these questions on hand to ask has helped me make decisions about my own employment, so i’m hopeful that it will be useful to y’all as well. i’m wishing you safety and wellness as we traverse this capitalist hellscape together.

if you have other tips for determining how trans affirming an employer is/may be, please let us know in the comments!

want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a thai tea on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.

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