Guidelines to Support Gender Diversity in the Workplace

Last Update: Tue, 16 May 2017  |  SHARE   

Brothers and Sisters,

Members of this Local Union are fortunate to work under Collective Bargaining Agreements that protect and safeguard them at work.  Unions also help to set the bar for those not lucky enough to have representation.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

Please stand with COPE Local 397 and WATCH OVER LIBERTY!

As an older, straight woman, I was not familiar with all the terminology used to describe gender and gender identity.  Please educate yourselves with the Guidelines below, and add your voice and support to put an end to the bullying, hatred and discrimination suffered by Members of the LGBT Community.

In solidarity,
Lucille Fedkiw, Chair, LGBT Committee


Guidelines to Support Gender Diversity in the Workplace

Terms and concepts have been referenced from The Province of Nova Scotia’s Guidelines to Support Trans and Gender Variant Employees

Appendix A – Terms and Concepts

These definitions are not meant to label individuals but are, in some instances, helpful or functional descriptors.  These terms, like all words, are social constructs developed over time. These terms and definitions are NOT standardized and may be used and understood differently by different people and in different regions.

Although these are the most commonly used terms, people may prefer other terms to describe their gender identity or expression. Labels and identities should only be self-identified by individuals, not assumed by others.

While many pieces of a person’s appearance, behaviour, or self-expression may provide cues to their presumed identity, it is the internal experience of how the person identifies that is the sole definition of their identity regardless of other factors.

All-Gender Washroom: washrooms accessible by persons of all genders (e.g., male identified, female identified, trans, gender variant) who prefer increased privacy for any reason; they may or may not be accessible by persons with disabilities. All-gender washrooms may be marked with specialized signage indicating that it is an all-gender washroom in English, French, and Braille, as well as whether the space is accessible for persons with disabilities.

Binary (or Gender Binary): A socially constructed system that divides sex and gender into two distinct, opposite, and disconnected categories of male/man/masculine and female/woman/feminine. This type of system is problematic for people who are intersex, trans, and gender variant.

Cisgender: Having a gender identity that is congruent with one’s biological sex (e.g., both biological sex and gender identity are female).

Cisgenderism: Is the assumption that there are only two genders (man and woman) and the belief that these genders are linked directly to biological sex (male and female). Cisgenderism does not allow for the recognition of other gender identities or expressions. Those who fit into the expectations of gender in society are afforded privileges that trans people are not. Cisgenderism is a form of institutionalized discrimination as well as an individually demonstrated prejudice. Cisgenderism assumes that there are only two genders and does not profess to value one over the other; this is where cisgenderism differs from sexism.

Coming out: (1) The process through which trans people acknowledge and express their identities and integrate this knowledge into their personal, social, and professional lives; (2) the act of disclosure to others, as in, “I just came out to my parents.” Coming out is a complex, selective, and ongoing process.

Discrimination: Where a person makes a distinction, whether intentional or not, based on a characteristic, or perceived characteristic, protected by Provincial Human Rights Legislation that has the effect of imposing burdens, obligations, or disadvantages on an individual or a class of individuals not imposed upon others, or which withholds or limits access to opportunities, benefits, and advantages available to other individuals or classes of individuals in society.

Gender: A social construct based on emotional, behavioural, psychological, and physical characteristics that classify an individual as feminine, masculine, female, male, androgynous, or other. Most assume that a person’s gender is based on the sex they are assigned at birth (e.g., babies assigned male at birth will be boys/men and females assigned at birth will be girls/women). Gender can be understood to have several components, including gender identity, gender expression, and gender roles. A society or culture develops the roles and relationships, traits, behaviours, values, power, and influence appropriate between the two genders.

Genderqueer (also Gender Fluid): A label for the experience of individuals whose gender identity is fluid (i.e., subject to change and/or redefinition over time) and falls outside the male/female gender binary. Genderqueer individuals often reject this binary completely and may choose not to undergo medical/surgical transitions or designate male or female pronouns for themselves. Some trans or genderqueer individuals may choose to use gender-neutral pronouns such as hir (pronounced “here”), ze, or they.

Gender Expression: How people present their own sense of gender to society. Your gender identity is what you know yourself to be and your gender expression is how you present or show your gender to the world and how your gender is understood by the world, such as through clothing/dress, makeup, voice, mannerisms, and personal habits.

Gender Identity: A person’s internal sense of being man, woman, both, neither, or somewhere in between. Gender identity refers to the internal experience of a person that cannot be determined by others. A person’s gender identity is different from their sexual orientation.

Gender Incongruence/Gender Dysphoria: A medical term/diagnosis used to connote a persistent feeling of dissonance between one’s internal sense of gender (gender identity) and anatomical or assigned sex. This conflict often results in distress and discomfort. It is important to note that not all individuals who identify as trans or gender variant suffer from or accept gender dysphoria as a label; medical professionals have recognized the stigmatizing and problematic nature of this term. However, in many jurisdictions a diagnosis of gender dysphoria remains a requirement for access to gender affirming healthcare and/or accommodations.

Gender Variant: An umbrella term to refer to individuals whose gender expressions differ from what is considered normative for their perceived gender and/or their assigned sex in a given culture. 

Homophobia:  Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.

Identified Name: A trans or gender variant person may identify a name other than their legal name which is more congruent with their gender identity and which may reduce distress and/or enhance their comfort. Some individuals may also refer to this as a preferred name, however it is important to know that “preferred name” may be understood by some individuals to indicate that they have a preference, or choice, with respect to their gender identity.

Identified Pronoun: A trans or gender variant person may identify a pronoun other than the pronoun based on their assigned sex at birth which is more congruent with their gender identity and which may reduce distress and/ or enhance their comfort. Some individuals may also refer to this as a preferred pronoun; however, it is important to know that “p referred pronoun” may be understood by some individuals to indicate that they have a preference, or choice, with respect to their gender identity.

Intersex: A general term used to describe natural biological variations in development in which a person is born with combinations of anatomy or physiology that do not fit the normative definitions of biological sex in the binaries of female or male. This could be due to chromosome configuration, hormone levels, genital ambiguities, or a combination thereof. Historically this condition was referred to as hermaphroditism. Hermaphrodite/Hermaphroditism is now considered derogatory in common use.

Outing: Publicly revealing a trans or gender variant person’s gender identity without their knowledge, permission, or consent. Note: intent is not relevant to outing, therefore it is possible to intentionally or unintentionally out someone by disclosing their personal information with no malicious intent and still cause harm to that person.

Reasonable Accommodation: Human rights legislation requires that employers have a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship. Undue hardship occurs when all reasonable means of accommodation have been exhausted and only unreasonable or impracticable options remain which would create a substantial and unmanageable workplace burden for the employer and/or it is determined that the employee’s safety would be impacted resulting in an unsuccessful return into the workplace. Such a burden may include significant financial, operational and/or safety considerations.

Sex/Biological Sex: Identifies a person as female, male, or intersex. It is determined by a person’s anatomy and physiology (e.g., genitalia, chromosomes, hormones). Sex is typically assigned at birth based on the appearance of the external genitalia.

Sexual Orientation: To whom we are emotionally, relationally, and/or physically attracted. A person’s sexual behaviour does not necessarily determine their sexual orientation and vice versa. There are many ways of expressing identities, which have resulted in an increase in terms and language around sexual orientation. Several common sexual orientations are lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight/heterosexual, asexual, pansexual, two spirit, and queer.

Trans: A person who does not identify with the sex/gender that they were assigned at birth. People who are trans may identify as and use the labels transgender, transsexual, female-to-male (FTM), male-to-female (MTF), trans man, trans woman, genderqueer, gender fluid, bi-gender, pangender, ambi-gender, or polygender. Trans people may also identify in different ways that may not fit into the gender binary structure or the identities listed here.

Transitioning: Affirming one’s gender. Transitioning may include both social (e.g., changes to name/pronoun, dress, speech/voice, mannerisms) and/or medical (e.g., gender affirming surgeries, hormone or voice therapies). The nature and path of transition is different for each person. An individual’s status of transition (e.g., partial, complete, or no transition) does not validate or invalidate their gender identity.

Transphobia*: A fear, hatred, ignorance, and/or violence towards trans and gender variant people or those whose gender identity or expression otherwise does not conform to social norms/expectations of gender.

Two spirit: Some Aboriginal people identify themselves as two spirit rather than as bisexual, gay, lesbian, or trans. Two spirit implies the embodiment of masculine and feminine spiritual qualities within the same body. Historically, in many Aboriginal cultures two spirit people were respected leaders and medicine people. Two spirit people were often accorded special status based on their unique abilities to understand female and male perspectives.

*“Phobia” in this context is not understood in the medical sense (an anxiety disorder related to a person, object, situation, or experience) but rather in the same vein as xenophobia; a fear of persons, objects, situations, or experiences perceived to be different, strange, or unknown. In this case, trans and gender variant persons which is exhibited through the behaviours above.