When an individual transitions, both they and their colleagues might be somewhat anxious about this unfamiliar situation. The process of transition is complex and requires understanding on all sides. Individuals and their colleagues may need support, guidance and some awareness-raising activities. It is normal for people to be curious, as they might be any time a colleague experiences a major life change. Interest is often not intended to be intrusive, but may simply be a way of expressing support. The person who is transitioning may need to be willing to engage with their colleagues and also to tolerate questions and mistakes: years of habit are hard to change. However, it is important that a spirit of mutual respect is maintained.
For the individual
- Do you want to tell colleagues/fellow students yourself? You may want to speak to people, send an email or a letter.
- Do you want an agreed statement to come from a senior person within your department or college to show that your transition is supported by the organisation?
- You may want some general information about transitioning for people who are not familiar with the concepts, while not going into detail on your own personal or medical history.
- Are you happy answering questions, or would you like to refer people to someone else?
- Do you want to take a short period away from work/study, then return with your new name and affirmed gender? This is common practice, which enables the organisation to brief people during your absence, which may be a few days or weeks.
- If you are making a gradual transition, this should be reflected in communications.
For the organisational lead
- Have you helped to identify the people who need to know about the individual’s transition?
- Have you agreed a timetable, and what steps will be taken?
- Have you offered support in communicating the message, including signalling organisational support?
- Have you agreed a timetable for the transition, which may be gradual?
- Is there a need for trans awareness training in the department or college?
- Have you considered how you will support people who are concerned about the individual’s transition or who have questions?
- In the early days, check in regularly with the individual on how things are going, and resolve any issues.
- Remember that historic information about someone’s transition should not be shared with people joining the department at a later date.
- Have you liaised with relevant colleagues to make changes?