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By: Mo Viviane (they/them), Associate Director of Workplace Equity & Inclusion

The journey of 2 Spirit, Trans, Intersex and Gender Expansive (2TIGE) folks has often been marked by courage, self-discovery, and resilience. However, it’s a journey with many challenges, particularly within employment. The lack of adequate support and affirmation in the workplace for 2TIGE people can have profound implications for our professional lives and mental health. I want to delve deeper into the intricate relationship between workplace support, mental well-being, and suicide prevention for our community.

The Struggles of 2TIGE Folks in the Workplace
As 2TIGE folks, we face unique hurdles in our professional lives. These challenges can range from subtle forms of discrimination and microaggressions to overt acts of prejudice. Many workplaces lack policies and practices that protect us from discrimination based on our gender identity. This creates an environment of fear and uncertainty, making it challenging to express our authentic selves without fear of backlash.

The absence of support and affirmation takes a toll on our mental health. We are constantly navigating hostile or unwelcoming workplaces that lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression. The stressors associated with hiding our identities or facing daily discrimination can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions and lead to the onset of new ones. The cumulative effect of these challenges can contribute to a heightened risk of suicidal ideation.

The Link to Suicide Prevention
Addressing the lack of support and affirmation in the workplace is crucial to suicide prevention for the 2TIGE community. Throughout my research, I have found that 2TIGE folks are at significantly higher risk for suicide attempts and completion than our cisgender counterparts. A study published in the journal JAMA Surgery reveals that gender-affirming surgeries were associated with reducing suicide risk in our community, and it also highlights the importance of affirming gender identity.

Gender affirmation goes beyond medical procedures: it extends into all aspects of life, like workplaces. A supportive environment improves mental health outcomes and acts as a protective factor against suicidal ideation. Providing your 2TIGE employees with equitable opportunities, recognizing their names and pronouns, and fostering a culture of inclusivity can make a substantial difference in their overall well-being.

Steps Towards Change

  • Policy Implementation: Workplaces NEED to establish and enforce policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression!  These policies must address restroom access, dress codes, and employee benefits to ensure that 2TIGE folks are treated equitably and respectfully. 
  • Education & Training: Organizations need to provide education and training for employees to raise awareness of 2TIGE identities, experiences, and the importance of creating inclusive environments. It is not to be the work of your 2TIGE employees to train other folks in the workplace – this is tokenization and can be triggering for folks. Sensitivity training can help mitigate ignorance and foster empathy.
  • Affirmative Practices: As an employer, you must implement practices affirming and validating gender identities and expressions. This includes using correct names and pronouns, providing gender-neutral facilities, and supporting gender transition processes (as well as including that support in your grievances policies).
  • Mental Health Support: Access to mental health resources is essential. As an employer, you can collaborate with mental health professionals to provide gender-affirming counseling services tailored to your 2TIGE employees. You can also further support by offering 2TIGE folks resources such as Trans LifeLine rather than the general suicide hotline.

Creating workplaces that support and affirm our community is a human right and a fundamental step toward suicide prevention. The connection between workplace environment, mental health, and suicide risks is undeniable. Acknowledging the struggles faced by 2TIGE folks and taking proactive measures to provide safe and inclusive atmospheres at organizations and companies contribute significantly to the overall well-being of your employees while fostering a culture of acceptance and understanding. 

 

In fostering a culture of acceptance and support for 2TIGE individuals, you can make a lasting positive impact. Trans Employment Project is an invaluable resource, offering a wealth of knowledge, guidance, and practical tools to create workplaces where every individual feels valued and respected. By getting involved with Trans Employment Project (TEmP), you’re investing in the well-being of your employees while also committing to more inclusive, diverse, and thriving workplaces.

Together, let’s take proactive steps towards a reality where everyone can excel and flourish!

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