NASA Guidelines On Gender Transition

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National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA Guidelines onGender TransitionApril 2014

Table of ce Through the NASA Shared Services Center B:RESOURCES14Page 1

NASAGUIDELINESONGENDERTRANSITIONOVERVIEWNASA embraces diversity and inclusion in the workplace and provides equal opportunity inFederal employment regardless of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity1 orpregnancy), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, or status as aparent. We understand that today’s workforce in the United States is more diverse than ever –the Nation’s best and the brightest represent an endless variety of cultural, geographical, andeducational backgrounds, not to mention life experiences and perspectives.NASA welcomes diversity because we recognize that workforce diversity, when fully utilized,leads to inclusion of more ideas and viewpoints, which in turn leads to more creativity andinnovation. When individuals are able to bring their whole selves to work, they thrive andNASA thrives. To remain competitive and to continue to innovate, NASA needs the bestemployees to design creative and innovative technical solutions. We must, therefore, attract,fully utilize, and retain the best talent. This includes being viewed as an employer of choice for adiverse workforce.The purpose of this document is to help foster an understanding of transgender issues in theworkplace and to provide guidance to managers and the broader NASA workforce on how toachieve a welcoming and supportive environment for NASA employees undergoing transition inthe workplace.2 Just as there are gay, lesbian and bisexual employees in our workforce, there arealso employees who are transgender. Some are open about their gender identity or expression,“out”, and others may not be. In order to live consistently with his or her gender identity, atransitioning person will come out full-time. For the transition to be successful, NASAmanagers, employees and co-workers will participate in an employee’s transition during thetransition process.1The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently held in the case of Macy v. Holder thatdiscrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII. The Commission stated:“When an employer discriminates against someone because the person is transgender, the employer has engaged indisparate treatment ‘related to the sex of the victim.’ This is true regardless of whether an employer discriminatesagainst an employee because the individual has expressed his or her gender in a non-stereotypical fashion, becausethe employer is uncomfortable with the fact that the person has transitioned or is in the process of transitioning fromone gender to another, or because the employer simply does not like that the person is identifying as a transgenderperson.” Macy v. Holder, 2012 WL 1435995, *7 (EEOC April 20, 2012).2This guidance document is based on best practices from other Federal agencies and private-sector companieswhich have implemented similar guidelines. It is also based on reports developed by the Human Rights Campaign(HRC), one of the Nation’s leading advocacy groups for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.See, e.g., Human Rights Campaign Fund Foundation, Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace, (April 2008).Page 2

he term transgender is an umbrella term that refers to anyone whose gender identity or genderexpression does not conform to society’s expectations for, or stereotypes about, one’s designatedsex at birth. As an umbrella term, the word “transgender” is an adjective that covers a widespectrum of people including transsexuals, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people. Notall people who consider themselves, or may be considered by others, as transgender will undergoa gender transition. “Transexual,” on the other hand, is a term used to refer to a person who,with or without medical treatment, has changed, or is in the process of changing, his/her physicalsex to match with his/her internal sense of gender identity. Those transitioning from male tofemale are often referred to as “MTFs” or “transwomen” and those transitioning from female tomale are frequently called “FTMs” or “transmen.”This document focuses primarily on people who have or who plan to transition genders, many ofwhom identify as transsexual and many of whom have undergone or are undergoing medicaltreatment - such as hormone therapy and sometimes surgery - to align their bodies with theirinternal sense of gender. Transgender people also employ non-medical methods to live andexpress themselves consistent with their gender identity, such as wearing preferred-genderclothing and body-shaping garments, adjusting mannerisms and speech patterns, and askingfriends and family to call them by their preferred names and pronouns.The process of a transgender individual publicly changing his or her gender presentation insociety is known as “transitioning”. The transitioning individual usually changes his/her name,clothing, and appearance. S/he may also seek anatomical changes through medical intervention.If the individual remains at his or her same place of employment during this transition, it isknown as “transitioning on the job” or “transitioning in the workplace”. This transition mayinclude hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery and/or other components and is generallyconducted under medical supervision based on a set of standards developed by medicalprofessionals.Many transgender individuals face difficult situations/interactions in their personal, professional,family, and financial lives simultaneously. Additionally, those who have begun the transitionprocess may have begun hormone therapy, which may affect the individual’s disposition duringthe time they are receiving the hormone therapy. We encourage everyone at NASA, to be awareand sensitive to the stresses placed on the transitioning individual both internal and external toNASA.The process for transitioning individuals is extensive. It is accomplished with the help of medicalprofessionals, in accordance with recognized standards of care. In general, the process willinvolve psychological evaluation, monitoring, and counseling; hormone therapy; electrolysis;and a trial living period of at least one-year (the “real life experience”) to ascertain the level ofPage 3

comfort the individual has in the reassigned gender. It is usually as the individual approaches thistrial living period that an employer is given notice of the individual’s transition plan. Eachindividual transitioning will have a set of unique factors that will require a customized plan. It isimportant that the transitioning individual work with his/her supervisor and Human ResourcesRepresentative in an open and honest way to allow a smooth process within the workplace.RIGHTSANDRESPONSIBILITIESThere are rights, expectations and responsibilities of each party associated with a transition in theworkplace and it is essential that open and honest communication be established to build trust foreach party. A successful transition in the workplace can only occur with commitment andunderstanding of each involved party.TransitioningEmployeesTransitioning employees have the right to be open and to experience a workplace free ofdiscrimination, including harassment. All employees have the right to express gender identitywithout fear of consequences.PlanningTo ensure a transition that is as smooth as possible, employees are encouraged to contact theirimmediate supervisor and Human Resource Representative well in advance of the plannedtransition date so that the necessary steps can be taken. Understand that supervisors, HR contactsand others may not be educated about transgender issues and may not understand clearly what isneeded. Allowing some time to educate people may be required.We recommend that a transitioning employee create, together with supervisor and HRrepresentative, a Workplace Engagement Plan as part of the process to lay a roadmap on whatsteps need to be taken to ensure a successful transition. This plan should, at a minimum, include: The date on which the employee would like to assume his/her new gender identity atwork;Whether time off will be necessary for surgeries or other procedures associated withyour transition;The manner in which coworkers, clients, and others in the workplace will be made awareof the transition;Who will be told; andWhen the announcement will be made.EqualEmploymentOpportunityandAnti- ‐HarassmentIf you are not sure or perhaps uncomfortable contacting the above-mentioned individuals,contact the Agency Diversity Program Manager who can help provide the right connections.Page 4

Remember you are covered under NASA’s equal employment opportunity and nondiscrimination policy and your communications will remain confidential.If an employee believes s/she has been discriminated against based on gender identity, the rightto file a complaint of sex discrimination under the EEO complaints process may be exercised.To do so, contact an EO Counselor within 45 days of the date the discrimination occurred.Contact information for Center EO offices may be found at http://odeo.hq.nasa.gov/install.html.In addition, if an employee believes s/he has been subjected to harassing conduct, the manager orsupervisor, or the Center Anti-Harassment Coordinator should be notified. Harassment based ongender identity is covered under the Agency’s Anti-Harassment deo/Anti-Harassment Brochure-Final.pdf.SupervisorsandManagersAt NASA, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a major contributing factor to the successof the Agency. The more diverse and inclusive NASA is, the better able we are able to recruitand retain a high quality workforce. If an employee at NASA informs you of his or her desire totransition or if an individual within your office is currently in the transition process, your supportis critical. Transgender employees are a vital component of the NASA workforce . Beingtransgender has nothing to do with a person’s ability to perform his or her job. To assist you inensuring that transitioning employees are treated with dignity and respect and that the transitionprocess is a smooth one, we offer the following losureFirst and foremost, the transgender status of an employee is considered confidential. Managersand HR representatives, who are privy to an employee’s transgender status, including any healthinformation, must take steps to safeguard such information. As a reminder, the Privacy Act (5U.S.C. 552a) protects from disclosure information maintained by an agency about an individual,including, but not limited to, his/her medical history. Generally speaking, disclosure is prohibitedexcept when express permission is granted by the employee.There needs to be a routine use to disclose PA protected information absent the consent of theindividual.In addition, control over the flow of information is vital to managing the transition process. Boththe manner in which employees are informed about the transitioning employee’s change ingender and the timing of the disclosure are critical to a smooth transition process. Therefore,confidentiality is of primary concern during the early stages of the transitioning process. It iscritical that supervisors do not prematurely disclose information about an employee’s impendingtransition prior to putting in place a plan for managing the transition process.Workforce Engagement Plan DevelopmentEnsuring a successful transition in the workplace requires thoughtful planning on the part ofmanagement and the transitioning employee. It is recommended that the transitioning employee,Page 5

with his/her supervisor and HR representative, develop a workplace engagement plan thataddresses, among other things, the timing for informing employees in the work place of thetransitioning employee’s impending change in gender, how co-workers will be told (e.g. by email, in a staff meeting, one-on-one, etc), and who should be told. In addition, the plan shouldinclude an official statement from management addressing support for the transgender employeeand reminding others that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated. Also, the planought to contemplate providing training for employees who have contact with the transgenderemployee, as well as managers who may have to deal with issues that arise relating to thetransition and the employee.Some things to consider: When does the transitioning employee anticipate being ready to assume his/her new role?Usually s/he will have a date and time frame in mind for when s/he would like to assumehis/her new identity. Will the transitioning employee require time off for surgeries or other procedures? If so,how much time and when? How would the transitioning employee like to inform others in the workplace abouthis/her change in gender? Does s/he want to inform employees? Would s/he prefer thatmanagement do so? What problems, if any, are anticipated? Has s/he thought ofsolutions? What kind of awareness training will be provided and to whom? Are outside expertsneeded to train employees and managers regarding transgender issues? What personnel records will need to be revised? Who will undertake seeing that thenecessary records are revised?LeadingbyExampleThe most effective way for a manager to set the tone in an office or other workplace setting is tolead by example. Transgender and gender non-conforming employees and coworkers should betreated with respect and dignity. If an employee begins to transition from one gender to anotheror d