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Trans-Friendly Guidelines for Singapore Employers

While queer-friendly guidelines are available internationally, trans-specific recommendations are often missed out. The following trans-friendly workplace guidelines have been created by the Singapore transgender community for leaders in Management and Human Resources of local companies to work into their HR policies. We have also attempted to make these guidelines accessible for small and medium-sized enterprises.

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  1. Name: Allow employees to use their preferred names at work; this includes how they are listed in the employee directory. This name may not match their legal name, especially if they are from a country that does not allow legal name changes.
  2. Sex and Gender: Allow employees to be recognised as their identified gender, which may not match the sex stated in their legal documents. This will extend to salutations. There are many barriers to changing one’s legal sex in official documents in Singapore, and it is not legally possible in some countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia.
  3. Pronouns: Respect each employee’s pronouns and honorifics, including less commonly used ones such as they/them. In a trans-inclusive workplace, the HR team, as the owners of HR policy, should add pronouns or salutations to their email signatures. Managers are also encouraged to express their allyship in this way.
  4. Privacy: An employee’s legal name and sex are personally identifiable information protected by the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). Seek your employee’s permission for where, and with whom, their data would be shared. Do not “out” trans employees to other co-workers without their consent. The sharing of their transgender identity with other staff may lead to workplace harassment or discrimination.
  5. Toilets: Allow your employees to access toilets corresponding to the gender they identify with, or consider having gender-neutral facilities. Do not ask them to use the handicapped toilets, unless this is what they request. As this is a very personal matter, it may be best to leave them to decide on their own which toilets to use rather than having formal policies on toilet usage. Flexibility is important as circumstances may change as they progress further in transition. Employing them would suggest you trust their character and their ability to make good judgements.
  6. Dress Code: Consider a gender-neutral dress code or uniform. Focus on a professional or neat appearance, instead of specifying gendered restrictions (e.g. long hair, make-up, specific clothing articles). Allow non-binary or transgender employees to dress according to their gender preferences.
  7. Inclusive Language: Adopt gender-neutral language in company policies and workplace communications. For example, using “they” instead of “his/hers” when you are unsure about the right pronouns to use for someone. If possible, include a glossary of trans-sensitive terms to the company dictionary.
  8. Harassment Prevention: Update anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies to be trans-inclusive. Ensure all managers and business HR employees go through a form of trans-inclusive training to know how to support transgender employees. Topics may include understanding transgender identities, healthcare and trans-specific harassment. Common forms of unintentional harassment include asking trans employees about their bodies or surgeries, which are inappropriate in a professional environment.
  9. Recruitment: Be trans-inclusive on your careers website, job application process and application forms. e.g. address gender identity in diversity statements, and have a non-binary option in forms asking for gender. Ensure interviewing managers know how to conduct interviews appropriately.
  10. Health Coverage: Include coverage for gender-affirming and transition healthcare in your company’s insurance plans. If your company provides coverage for legal spouses and family, make accommodations to cover their life partners and children, who may not be legally recognised in Singapore due to various barriers. It should be clear in the Staff Handbook, otherwise explicitly made clear to all employees, that such support is available.
  11. Supporting Resources: Support the creation of other company resources (e.g. an LGBTQ Employee Network, mentorships, allyship programmes) to provide support and foster understanding and equity for minority communities.

Disclaimer: Information on this site is for general information only. It does not constitute legal or medical advice and is not a substitute for obtaining advice from a qualified professional. We do not represent or warrant that this information is suitable, reliable, complete, accurate or up-to-date.