Transgender Issues

Transgender Workplace Discrimination

In 33 states, it is perfectly legal to fire a transgender worker for their gender identity or expression. A strong union contract should protect transgender workers at every point of their transition and should include clear guidelines for how to treat transgender workers in certain situations.

Hiring & Promotions

The unemployment rate in the transgender population is over 50% and many more face repeated and pervasive discrimination in hiring and promotions. Every person deserves the dignity and respect of a good job and our transgender brothers and sisters are repeatedly denied that right. We must do better by ensuring our contracts include strong language to encourage hiring, developing, and promoting transgender workers and to prevent the rampant discrimination experienced by transgender workers.

Bathroom Access

Reasonable access to a restroom is a workplace safety and health concern. For transgender workers, entering a restroom in public or at work can be a terrifying experience. Misguided assumptions about which restroom someone should be using is common, which is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued guidelines for transgender restroom access at work. The core principle of these guidelines:

“Every employee, including transgender employees, should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.”

Many workplaces have outdated policies that apply strict rules about which restroom a worker can use. Pride at Work can offer a variety of recommendations based on the specific circumstances of a workplace to help you work with management to preserve the dignity of transgender workers.

Trangender-Inclusive Healthcare

The first step to ensuring transgender union members have access to proper medical care is to remove exclusionary language from insurance policies. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits transgender discrimination in health insurance and other coverage under Section 1557.

But the ACA does not explicitly require coverage of transition-related care. Transgender workers may have unique health care needs after transition that insurers are not used to covering, but are appropriate and recommended health care. A good contract with inclusive healthcare standards will guarantee that transgender working people can access the care they need.


Employers and insurers may claim this coverage is expensive. Studies have shown otherwise. It is important to remember that unlike a benefit such as vision or dental, this is a health benefit that a finite number of members will ever use. At the same time, it has an extraordinary impact on the life of the member needing this coverage.

“Medical Necessity”

Plans and policies should not try to define every single possible medical necessity that a doctor may recommend. To address management or insurer concerns of opening the door to procedures such as elective cosmetic surgery, it is better recommended to use language such as, “medical necessity as recommended by the guidelines of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.”