Before beginning a transition on the job or applying for a new job, you should find out everything you can about the employer’s treatment of transgender workers. Large companies post information about their nondiscrimination or equal employment opportunity policies on their websites.
Also look to see if there is an LGBT resource group within the company. If so, contact them to find out more about how transgender people have been treated. Even if they are unaware of any transgender employees, they can tell you how gay and lesbian people are treated, which is a good indicator of how transgender workers will fare.
Most large companies have had several people transition in the workplace, and many have established policies relating to transgender employees. As of 2008, 35% of Fortune 500 companies and 61% of Fortune 100 companies had nondiscrimination policies that protected workers on the basis of gender identity or expression. The Human Rights Campaign keeps track of many companies through its Corporate Equality Index.
Participating companies are given scores of 0 to 100 based on their treatment of LGBT workers. Of the 100 possible points, 25 relate to transgender policies: 15 points are given if the company protects against discrimination based on gender identity or expression, 5 points are given if they offer gender identity diversity training or have supportive transition guidelines, and 5 points are given if they offer transgender-inclusive insurance coverage.
Increasingly, businesses are providing transgender-inclusive health care coverage. In 2010, the HRC Index included 447 companies that offer some coverage for transgender-related care. Most of these companies provided only short-term leave for transgender-related surgical procedures and/or mental health counseling for transgender issues. Some covered hormone treatment, but only 66 companies offered coverage for transgender surgical procedures. See more about transgender benefits here.
Even if your company does not have nondiscrimination protections for transgender workers, you may be in a state, county or city that has enacted nondiscrimination laws, which could protect you from discrimination on the job. Check here to find jurisdictions with nondiscrimination laws that protect transgender people. Even if you are covered by such a law, remember that these laws are difficult to enforce. If you are not in a place with protective laws, companies can discriminate against you—even if they have a nondiscrimination policy.