Learning terminology related to transgender issues is one of the first steps toward creating a respectful work culture for transgender employees, according to Michael J. Robinson of Case Western Reserve University, coauthor of an Academy of Management article.
“People who don’t understand the language automatically have a really negative predisposition to something,” said Robinson, who coauthored, “Bringing Transgender Issues Into Management Education: A Call to Action,” with Chantal van Esch of California State Polytechnic University in Pomona and Diana Bilimoria of Case Western Reserve University. “That’s part of the reason you’ll hear people say, ‘She thinks she’s a woman,’ when they’re talking about trans women, or, ‘She calls herself a woman, but she’s really a man.’
U.S. managers who do not know how to interact respectfully with transgender employees, or how to build workplace cultures in which coworkers interact respectfully, face fines from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or financial penalties or settlements in civil courts. Organizational reputations can also take a hit.