Learning how to support transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive employees in the workplace is the focus of a new queer-owned consulting firm in Rochester.
A workshop Friday by Just Roots Consulting explored the day-to-day needs of transgender employees and looked at how employers and employees can collaborate to make workplaces safe.
Milo Primeaux is the CEO of Just Roots Consulting. In addition to doing this work, he is a civil rights attorney and a queer, trans person himself.
He said much of his work is going to bat for LGBTQ people against employers who make avoidable mistakes.
"I love supporting and defending members of my community,” Primeaux said. “But I also think it’s really important to work collaboratively and create partnerships with employers and other institutions to just do better together in a proactive way."
The class starts as a kind of "trans 101" -- making sure everyone knows what it means to be trans and how implicit bias and microaggressions feed into the discrimination that trans people often experience in the workplace.
Then it dives deeper into the best practices and tools that employers can use to make their workplaces not only welcoming and affirming but celebratory of trans people.
A workshop like this is for a range of employers, Milo said, from those who are outwardly committed to inclusivity and just want to deepen that relationship to businesses that are just starting to learn about different gender identities.
"And maybe they’re doing this in a proactive way like, ‘I don’t know that we've ever had any trans employees, but we probably will, so we should probably be prepared,’ which is awesome,” Primeaux said. “Or, ‘Oh my gosh, someone just came out as trans in the workplace and we have no idea what to do, and we don’t want to mess up.’ "
Among the topics that came up in the two-hour class were how to accommodate name changes, managing paperwork when someone’s legal name doesn’t match their preferred name, and making surveys and questionnaires with more gender options beyond male and female.
The important thing to keep in mind, Primeaux said, is that while there are protections on paper that are supposed to prevent discrimination based on gender identity and expression, that doesn’t stop it from happening.
He says, then, the goal is to change the culture and mindset -- and that’s what he is here to do.
Another workshop will be hosted this Friday April 26th in Geneva at the Family Counseling Service of the Finger Lakes.