Transgender Employment Experiences

Gendered Perceptions and the Law

By Kyla Bender-Baird

Subjects: Gender Studies, Sociology Of Work, Queer Studies
Paperback : 9781438436746, 191 pages, August 2011
Hardcover : 9781438436753, 191 pages, August 2011

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Table of contents

1. Introduction
Defining Transgender
About the Participants
2. Legal Landscape of Employment Protections for Transgender People in the United States
Using Disability Law to Advocate for Transgender Employment Protections
Expanding the Definition of “Sex” in Title VII Jurisprudence to Protect Transgender Employees
The Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Adding Gender Identity Protections to State and Local Nondiscrimination Laws and Workplace Policies
Language Variation Among Policy Protections for Transgender People
3. Making the Numbers Come Alive: Stories of Workplace Discrimination
Termination, Unemployment, and Underemployment
Effects of Gender Identity and Workplace Transitions on Income
Connecting Job Security and Access to Transitioning
How Do I Look? The Impact of Dress Codes on Trans Employment Experiences
The Biggee: Bathrooms
Identity Documents and the Gender Classification System
Stepping Back and Getting the Big Picture
Antici…pation: Anxiety, Distress, and the Psychological Imact of Discrimination
4. Changing the Narrative: Stories of Positive Workplace Experiences
The “I’m Lucky” Phenomenon
The Influence of Socioeconomic Class
The Effects of Workplace Environment
The Art of Careful Planning and Workplace Coordination
What Employees Bring to the Workplace
5. Conclusion
The Importance of Policy Protections in Preventing Discrimination and Providing Recourse
The Importance of Education in Developming Community Awareness

Brings together the workplace experiences of transgender people with an assessment of current policy protections.


The complex and changing state of policy protections for transgender communities practically requires trans people to become legal experts just to navigate their everyday lives. It also simultaneously offers a window of opportunity for legal advocates to shape new laws and policies based on the lived experiences of trans people. Using personal interviews, legal case histories, and transgender theory, Transgender Employment Experiences combines policy analysis with the lived experiences of twenty transgender-identified employees, showing how worker protections that should exist under the Civil Rights Act are instead systematically undermined in the case of many transgender employees. Rather than focusing solely on negative experiences, however, Kyla Bender-Baird also highlights the positive experiences her respondents had coming out at work, illustrating examples of best practices in response to transitioning. Bender-Baird covers many forms of discrimination that transgender workers face, such as harassment, gender-based dress codes, income-related inequities, bathroom policies, and background checks. Drawing from this analysis, she argues for protections for gender expression in policy decisions, legislative efforts, and for a multipronged approach to workplace discrimination. With its effective balance of personal stories and legal guidance, this book is a much-needed resource for those in the field of gender and employment, from policy analysts to human resource managers to queer studies scholars.

Kyla Bender-Baird is Research and Programs Manager at the National Council for Research on Women.


"This is a lively, interesting, and timely book. It explores an issue that is slowly but inexorably emerging into the spotlight of legal, human resources, and diversity professionals' consciousness." — Jillian T. Weiss, author of Transgender Workplace Diversity: Policy Tools, Training Issues and Communication Strategies for HR and Legal Professionals