Gender identity, gender expression and sex are considered independent of one another. For example, a person may have the sex of male, which was given at birth, the gender identity of female, and the gender expression of masculine with variations like butch, femme, transgender, genderqueer, or nonconforming queer. A transgender person “may or may not have a gender expression that is different from the social expectations of the sex assigned at birth.”
A detached feature of the same person is sexual orientation. Staying with the example given, one can have the assigned sex at birth of male; the gender identity of female; a masculine gender expression; and an orientation of gay, lesbian, or heterosexual. In addition, one may change or transition one’s gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation throughout life.
With this in mind, your company cannot refuse to hire, refuse to promote, or terminate an employee because of an individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
To prevent a hostile workplace, your supervisors may monitor your conversations and the conversations of others for:
- Derogatory jokes and comments about anyone’s sexual identity or the identity as a whole (“Two gay guys walk into a bar…”)
- Speculation about orientation or gender of another person, especially a fellow employee
- Rumors about an employee’s sexual orientation or activity
- Outing someone, whether or not it’s true