Non-Binary Designations Coming to State IDs

You may have seen the news that non-binary residents of California can now select X as their gender on state identification (instead of simply male or female). California is one of several areas which now allow a third gender designation. Similar laws are in effect in D.C. and Oregon.

D.C.'s law also permits individuals seeking to change their gender marker to make the change without certification from a medical provider or any other individual.

Last year, for the first time in the U.S., a judge in Oregon ruled that the state must recognize a third gender and applications for state identification have been updated to allow for the selection of X. This is notable in that the policy changed via a the court system, rather than the legislature.

Australia and New Zealand have allowed for third gender designations on passport applications since 2011 - so while this is new to a few U.S. states, these policies are changing elsewhere, too. Currently, Denmark, Germany, Malta, Canada, Pakistan. India, Ireland and Nepal also allow third gender options on passport applications.

While Gender X is the most popular third gender option, there are some which use "other" as an alternative.

With more and more people identifying as transgender and non-binary, it makes good business sense to consider a third gender on the forms used within your company. It sends a clear signal of inclusivity to guests and employees and can improve customer service.

Hey Guys

"Hey Guys!"

We've all heard it and most of us probably use it. And while "guys" generally doesn't literally mean "men", it's still important to consider language when greeting groups of people.

The greetings that follow are much more "gendered" than "guys" - and can be risky if one or more of the people in the group is transgender or gender nonconforming. 

  • "Hey Girls!"
  • "What can I get for you ladies?"
  • "How are you doing tonight, gentlemen?"

Imagine a situation where a group approaches a host stand at a restaurant and the host opens with, "Good evening, ladies!" - yet one of the group is a trans man or non-binary. That guest will probably feel quite uncomfortable. In fact, one of our survey respondents shared, "As a trans man, I've been called "ma'am" or included in a greeting of 'ladies' when with my wife, and it makes me want to never return to that establishment. Using gender-neutral terms can be more comfortable for everybody."

What's a more successful approach?

The best approach is to keep language neutral. Here are some better greetings in that same scenario where a group approaches a host stand:

  • "Hi everybody!"
  • "What can I get for you folks?"
  • "How can I help you?"

Language matters, and offending guests - even accidentally - can be a costly mistake. Training employees to make a simple change to use non-gendered language can immediately create an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome - and minimize the risk to your brand.

Creative Ways to Designate Single Stall Restrooms for All Genders

There are several states in the country, and several cities, which now require all single stall restrooms to be labeled as all gender restrooms. This is the case in NYC, Denver, Philadelphia, the state of California and a few other places. These new laws are designed to ensure that transgender and non-binary people feel comfortable using the restroom (and as a positive side effect, will also cut down waits for women who often have longer lines).

When I travel around to conferences trainings and other events, I love taking photos of the "all gender" restroom signs I encounter, as well as the signs that direct guests to use the restroom where they are most comfortable. Some companies, like Starbucks and Target, established these of their own volition, while others do so in response to changes in public policies. It’s really fun for me to see how different companies are approaching this. Here are some of the signs we've spotted recently.

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Which is your favorite? Have you made arrangements within your own company to create single stall all gender signs?

Why LGBTQ-Inclusive Corporate Policies Matter So Much

Mississippi has a new law which fully legalizes discrimination. Although this law is a bit redundant, since people who are LGBTQ already have zero protections in Mississippi, this "religious freedom" law is an example of the types of bills being written and laws being passed in other states as well. I’m sure you heard the controversy over North Carolina’s HB2 law requiring transgender guests to use the restroom based on the gender on their birth certificate. Although this law was repealed and replaced with a new, "improved" law HB12, the new law remains similarly discriminatory towards transgender people.

Folks who are transgender may or may not choose to transition. The process of transitioning from male to female or female to male is purely optional. It's also expensive, time consuming and there are many trans people who do not have the resources to medically transition. Some trans folks might identify as non-binary and have no intention of going on hormones or undergoing any other procedures for transition.

For these folks who are not planning to medically transition and legally update their gender marker, these discriminatory bills and laws may be particularly scary. Essentially, these laws require someone to use the restroom of the gender on their birth certificate, regardless of whether or not that is how they currently identify. With laws like this increasingly acceptable, it's important for companies to step up and provide protections for transgender employees and guests.

Does your company have an inclusive restroom policy? Has your company made arrangements to ensure that your transgender guests and associates can feel safe?

How Updated Forms Can Improve Your Customer Service

Policy changes that relate to updating forms in your business can be the most effective way to ensure that your transgender and non-binary guests are treated with respect.

For example, if your business is a spa, consider updating the registration form that a new guest completes. Request gender and provide an open-ended option like 'Other'. Ask for honorific/title, and consider using gender-neutral honorifics. Other companies like airlines and banks may also request a preferred name, in addition to the legal name on the account. 

When you give your guests the opportunity to self-identify, your workers can then refer to that information rather than making assumptions. Whether your company is a bank, airline, spa, fitness center or other facility, creating policies that allow your customers to self-identify is an important best practice. Not only does it send a signal to your customers that your company is paying attention to the diversity of its community, but it also represents a powerful step towards inclusion, especially given that 12% of Americans 18 -34 are identifying as transgender.

In our survey of transgender customers, one of the most consistent pieces of advice from them to businesses, was simply, "don’t assume." Virtually every trans person we spoke to would rather be asked clarifying questions in a respectful, pleasant way, rather than someone making an assumption about their gender identity or gender expression. Of course, those clarifying questions can be awkward when asked verbally, especially to a novice associate. When your company puts those questions in a form, it creates a win-win for everybody. Your customer feel seen and your employees can feel confident in their customer service.