Frequently Asked Questions
Is it all right to use my preferred name on my resume? On application forms?
A resume is not a legal document, so it is acceptable to use your preferred name on the resume. Both transgender and cisgender individuals handle this by listing a first initial, followed by their preferred name; others identify their preferred name in quotes, e.g: K. Micah Jones, or Kelsey “Micah” Jones.
If application forms specifically request legal name, you should list your legal name as it may be used for a background check. The issue is complex, depending on state and local anti-discrimination policies and it may be helpful to consult with trans-knowledgeable legal resources such as the Transgender Law Project, or GLADD. HRC’s current compilation of statewide laws and policies regarding gender identity and anti-discrimination policies may also be useful.
When do I have to use my legal name?
You will need to use your legal name for purposes of background checks, social security documents, and insurance forms. You may use your preferred name on email, phone directory, and in your day-to-day interactions. Human Resources staff members are bound by confidentiality policies, but there is always some risk of disclosure. If you have taken legal steps to change your name on all of your identification documents, you may use your new legal name in all instances. Know that you may still be asked to provide any other names you have legally gone by if a company requires that you complete a background check.
Are some career areas more accepting of transgender individuals? Should that guide my career choice?
There are career areas that have a reputation for being more or less accepting of transgender individuals, but a quick look at the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index illustrates that industries from airlines, to healthcare, to marketing are working to end discrimination based on gender identity and expression. This same holds true for government and non-profit organizations. Your choice of career area should be based on finding work that you love and uses your best skills, because that is where you will excel! Successful transgender individuals are found in almost all walks of life.
Should I out myself in the interview? How should I present myself if I am transitioning?
In all cases, marketing yourself effectively for the position is the most important consideration when interviewing. Dress professionally for the gender you would like to be seen as, and share your pronouns if you feel comfortable doing so. Some candidates may also opt to dress in a gender-neutral way.
A mock interview is a great way to prepare for an interview, whether you wish to out yourself or not. It gives you a chance to prepare for the questions you feel most nervous about, and will help you enter the interview feeling confident and prepared to navigate questions to keep the focus on your experience and skills. This is really what is most important in the interview!
What considerations are important with regard to health insurance? Can I list my preferred gender on the application process? If not, will that out me?
This is a complex and highly individual question. Due to some sex-specific health care treatment, each individual should decide, in consultation with their health care provider, which gender and/or sex they prefer to indicate for healthcare purposes. For example, a female to male individual checking male as sex on health care forms might be denied treatment for ovarian cancer. State and local anti-discrimination laws may also bear on this decision. Privacy regarding the gender marker on insurance coverage is covered by Human Resources confidentiality policies. Trans-savvy doctors and legal counsel can provide helpful guidance.
If I am already employed and planning to transition on the job, how should I navigate this process?
There are a number of excellent resources in place to help employees and Human Resources professionals manage and support a successful transition in the workplace. Transgender Workplace Diversity by Jillian Weiss and the Human Rights Campaign’s Workplace Gender Transition Guidelines are useful references for the transitioning employee. Additionally, a number of corporations, including American Airlines, Chevron, and EY have guidelines that can serve as a resource. The guiding principle is: The transitioning employee’s preferences, rather than one universal set of rules, should guide the process. Human Resources staff can serve as strong allies and supporters in this process and are often a helpful first point of contact.