The nation’s anti-discrimination enforcer is promoting greater equity and inclusion for members of the LGBTQI+ community. Soon, non-binary individuals can select a nonbinary “X” gender marker during the voluntary self-identification questions that are part of the intake process for filing a charge of discrimination.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the news yesterday, Transgender Day of Visibility, as part of a larger endeavor across the federal government to introduce a nonbinary “X” gender marker. The White House released a fact sheet that explains all of the changes.
But here’s more from the EEOC on the intake changes:
Recognizing that the binary construction of gender as either “male” or “female” does not reflect the full range of gender identities, the EEOC will add an option to mark “X” during two critical stages of the intake and charge filing process:
- The EEOC will update the voluntary demographic questions relating to gender in the online public portal that members of the public use to submit inquiries about filing a charge of discrimination, as well as the Online Spanish Initial Consultation Form and Pre-Charge Inquiry Form that are sometimes used in lieu of the portal.
- The EEOC will also modify its charge of discrimination form to include “Mx.” in the list of prefix options.
Additionally, the EEOC announced that it would incorporate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) proposal for how to define “X” in a way that promotes clarity and inclusion, as well as safety and privacy for individuals. There are two parts: (1) “unspecified,” which promotes privacy for individuals who prefer not to disclose their gender identity; and (2) “another gender identity,” which promotes clarity and inclusion for those who wish to signify that they do not identify as male or female. You can find more details in this fact sheet.
But since the goal is foster respect, inclusion, and support to avoid having a non-binary individual file a charge of discrimination, here are a few workplace training tips courtesy of The National Center for Transgender Equality.
- You don’t have to understand what it means for someone to be non-binary to respect them. Some people haven’t heard a lot about non-binary genders or have trouble understanding them, and that’s okay. But identities that some people don’t understand still deserve respect.
- Use the name a person asks you to use. This is one of the most critical aspects of being respectful of a non-binary person, as the name you may have been using may not reflect their gender identity. Don’t ask someone what their old name was.
- Try not to make any assumptions about people’s gender. You can’t tell if someone is non-binary simply by looking at them, just like how you can’t tell if someone is transgender just by how they look.
- If you’re not sure what pronouns someone uses, ask. Different non-binary people may use different pronouns. Many non-binary people use “they” while others use “he” or “she,” and still others use other pronouns. Asking whether someone should be referred to as “he,” “she,” “they,” or another pronoun may feel awkward at first, but is one of the simplest and most important ways to show respect for someone’s identity.
- Advocate for non-binary friendly policies. It’s important for non-binary people to be able to live, dress and have their gender respected at work.
- Understand that, for many non-binary people, figuring out which bathroom to use can be challenging. For many non-binary people, using either the women’s or the men’s room might feel unsafe, because others may verbally harass them or even physically attack them. Non-binary people should be supported by being able to use the restroom that they believe they will be safest in.
- Talk to non-binary people to learn more about who they are. There’s no one way to be non-binary. The best way to understand what it’s like to be non-binary is to talk with non-binary people and listen to their stories.