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Do you suffer discrimination because you identify as transgender?

Does the gender with which you identify differ from your assigned sex when you were born? Then you are likely one of many people in California who are victims of LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace. This could also be the case if you choose to express your behavior and appearance different from your sex at birth.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act protects both gender identification and expression. No one in your workplace may discriminate against you -- even if someone perceives you as gender nonconforming or transgender.

What are your rights during the gender transition period?

Your transition need not be complete to enjoy the protection of the law. It could involve all or some of the following:

  • Physical transition: This includes surgical procedures, hormone therapy, and other medical treatment to physically align your body with the gender with which you identify.
  • Social transition: This is the social alignment of you as a person with your internal sense by changing your name and pronoun, participating in sports and other activities that are not stereotypically associated with your sex at birth, and adapting your usage of bathroom facilities.

Your employer may not treat you differently from any other employees. He or she may not change your accommodation of treatment at any stage during your transition, regardless of whether you complete any particular step of the gender-transition process.

What are your rights during an interview?

The person who interviews you for a job may only ask non-discriminatory questions, and that excludes any of the following:

  • Gender-related questions: The interviewer may not ask any questions to determine your gender identity, your marital status, your spouse's gender or name, or any questions about the members of your household and the relations between them.
  • Body-related questions: He or she may not ask any questions about your body or your intentions to have surgery.

Allowed questions include those relating to your employment history, references, and other non-discriminatory subjects and issues.

What are your bathroom, shower and locker room rights?

Although facilities differ from one company to the next, your employer must allow you to use the facilities of the gender with which you identify regardless of whether it is multi- or single-user facilities. This matter raises many questions, but the primary ruling is that bathroom rights should be non-discriminatory.

What can you do if you are a victim of LGBTQ discrimination?

You can report discrimination in the workplace to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. However, you must file such a complaint within one year. This could be a daunting prospect, but help is available. An attorney with experience in fighting for the rights of LGBTQ and other underrepresented groups can provide the necessary support and guidance throughout ensuing proceedings.

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