Gender Dysphoria in the Workplace: How to Support a Coworker


People with gender dysphoria should be treated the same in the workplace as any other coworker. Though it may be difficult to get used to referring to a person with new pronouns such as “he” instead of “she,” you should make every effort to honor the person’s wishes.

People with gender dysphoria identify with a gender identity contrary to what was assigned to them socially, or on the basis of their biological sex. Oftentimes, people with the condition will ask that they be treated as an individual with another biological sex.

Support in the workplace

Navigating the workplace can be quite precarious for people who insist upon a gender identification contrary to the one they were assigned at birth. 

Some courts have ruled that transgender individuals are covered under Title VII, which forbids workplace discrimination based on sex. Discrimination occurs when an employer or coworker treats an individual differently because of his or her gender identity. Such discrimination may occur if an employer fires an individual for cross-dressing on the job, expressing a desire to undergo sex reassignment surgery, being asked to leave on the grounds of being a transgender individual, or being ridiculed, taunted or harassed by employers or coworkers for being a transgender individual.  

In light of this, employees should refer to transgender individuals according to the gender identity by which the person identifies, rather than according to their biological sex. 

Transgender advocates recommend that employers enact dress codes that are inclusive of people with gender dysphoria. Likewise, transgender people also should be allowed to use the restrooms which correspond to their gender identity rather than being required to use the one of their biological sex. Coworkers should also talk with their human resources department if they are uncomfortable sharing a restroom with a transgender person. It is not appropriate to complain or challenge the person about using a bathroom that corresponds with his or her biological sex.     

Workers may not agree with, or understand gender dysphoria but it’s important to remember that everyone in the workplace expects and deserves equal and fair treatment. By educating workers on the nature and reality of gender dysphoria, advocates hope to create a safe, productive, healthy and happy work environment for individuals of all stripes, regardless of their gender identity.