It’s almost a given that finding a new role can be hard, imagine how much more challenging it would be if when filling out an application form, you couldn’t even find the correct category for your gender identity? How motivated would you feel to work for an organisation that doesn’t even recognise you exist! War for talent!!!! Often the war is within the organisational bureaucracies that still confuse sex and gender identity. When asking a question about “gender” some companies still don’t *know/ care / understand there are more than the two responses of male or female.
I acknowledge that for some, gender and sex may be confused and unwittingly used interchangeably – however for clarification purposes, sex is a category that describes a person’s biology and body; gender identity describes a person’s sense of self. There are also people who don’t identify as any gender. They prefer to be free of all gender labels and gender stereotypes, including clothes, roles and any society gender conformity. This group of people can be termed gender queer or “gender free”.
Changing application forms to be more inclusive is but one minor detail in the work to create organisations that are truly diverse and welcoming to all. However, an organisation shouldn’t just change their application forms or websites to give the impression that their organisation is welcoming towards and knowledgeable about LGBTIQA people, if in fact they are not, as this could be detrimental and misleading to the LGBTIQA community.
If you are still not 100% sure what terms to use, the following explanations may be of interest to you.
Sexual orientation - An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.
Gender identity - One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.
Gender expression - External appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behaviour, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviours and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.
Transgender - An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission created information originally for journalists to report accurately on gender identity. This provides do’s and don’ts that you may also find helpful.
I write this because of a recent conversation I had with a lovely person who felt confronted by someone’s lack of knowledge in this area. In 2017, ignorance is not a good enough excuse for being offensive or discourteous to our LGBTIQA community.
P.S. just in case you don’t know what LGBTIQA means it is the acronym which relates to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, intersexes, queers(or those questioning their gender identity or sexualorientation), and allies (or asexuals).
Written by June Parker. June is a Director of Selection Partners, she is a career and executive coach, passionate about diversity and inclusion.