As transgender rights are under fire at the national level, Cornell is working to make the workplace a more welcoming place.
On Sept. 27, nearly a month before The New York Times reported that the Trump administration is considering defining transgender out of existence, the University published a new 15-page guide for transgender people at Cornell, outlining tips on coming out and transitioning in the workplace.
The guide is designed to answer common questions and address issues transgender people face in the workplace. Cornell Woodson, diversity and inclusion programs lead in the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity, wrote the guide because he said he noticed that a lot of the information transgender people need is scattered online.
“I thought, let’s create a document where [it was] step one, step two, step three, very easy, very fast, so people can access it,” Woodson told The Sun.
Over the course of four months and 10 drafts, Woodson consulted the transgender people he supported about what they thought was or was not necessary. He also talked to supervisors who had experience supporting transgender employees.
In response to this conversation, the guide includes a draft email that supervisors can send. However, Woodson said the guide is not meant to be a comprehensive document.
“[The guide] is just a starting place and I was very, very particular about making sure that that was being said in the guide,” Woodson told The Sun, “This is not an end all be all. This is just one way to look at it.”
Woodson is also planning on publishing a companion guide by May 2019 for cisgender people on the right ways to support the transgender people around them.
“Even as the idea of being trans is confusing for people, I get calls all the time from supervisors saying, ‘I don’t understand what it means to be trans. But I want to make sure my department is a place people feel secure,’” Woodson told The Sun.
In his time at Cornell, Woodson said he has found the community to be opened minded and willing to learn. Since the guide’s publishing, Woodson has received positive responses from people he knows in the transgender community, with one person telling Woodson they needed the guide a decade earlier when they transitioned.
“We did a really good job,” Woodson said.