Trans Rights: What Capitol Hill Could Learn From Corporate America 

By Neal Broverman

Originally published on Advocate.com September 13 2011 3:00 AM ET

 To reflect a changing world and encourage a more inclusive one, the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index is adding more transgender-specific criteria to its list of policy requirements. For companies to now receive a perfect 100%, they must offer insurance benefits that cover gender-reassignment surgery. Many of the nation’s biggest and best-known corporations passed HRC’s test and are taking additional steps to improve the workplace for transgender employees.

 Macy’s: The retailer put specific transgender-related policies,
which grant access to fitting rooms and restrooms of transitioning
employees’ choice, in place in 2006. “We offered special training in
intimate apparel departments for sales associates to help transgender
individuals with fittings,” Beth Charlton of Macy’s corporate
communications department tells us. “We also have offered training to
our store managers, law department, and human resources regarding our
transgender policy.” The company has also recruited for transgender
employees in its San Francisco stores.TRANS RIGHTS MACYS X560 | ADVOCATE.COMGeneral Motors: In 2008, GM was the only automotive company to
attend a job fair at Atlanta’s Southern Comfort, an annual conference on
transgender issues. Meanwhile, Tina Seitz, who transitioned in 2006
while working at GM, tells us that during that time her employer
recruited her to assist in creating transgender-related training
materials for the company. “GM has made every effort to go beyond merely
tolerating transgender individuals,” Seitz says. “They’ve reach reached
out, striving to learn what the company can do to make our work
experience as stress-free and rewarding as possible.”TRANS RIGHTS GM X560 | ADVOCATE.COMWells Fargo: Wells Fargo’s insurance plans have covered
transgender-related medical procedures for years. Also, the human
resources team is trained to assist and offer support for transitioning
employees as well as educate their coworkers and supervisors. Wells
Fargo also has a website (WellsFargo.com/jump/regional/LGBT) for easy
access to the financial powerhouse’s LGBT policies.TRANS RIGHTS WELLS FARGO X560 | ADVOCATE.COMToyota: The carmaker’s American operations cover medical
treatments needed by transgender people, and the company actively
recruits LGBT candidates. In June, for Pride month, Toyota’s North
American sales and distribution headquarters in Torrance, Calif., hosted
trans actress Candis Cayne, who spoke to employees about her experience
in the workplace.TRANS RIGHTS TOYOTA X560 | ADVOCATE.COMAT&T: The telecommunications giant provides unisex restrooms
for transitioning employees and works closely with LEAGUE, the company’s
24-year-old LGBT group, to ensure that corporate policies are sensitive
to the needs of transgender people.TRANS RIGHTS AT&T X560 | ADVOCATE.COMBristol-Myers Squibb: Insurance benefits for employees of this
pharmaceutical company, which manufactures and distributes several HIV
medications, include coverage for short-term leave after
gender-reassignment surgery, mental health counseling, hormone therapy,
and medical visits.TRANS RIGHTS BMS X560 | ADVOCATE.COMIBM: In addition to offering coverage for gender-reassignment
surgery, IBM has created a webcast on the topic of gender identity and
expression that features transgender workers talking about their
experiences and answering questions from other employees. The webcast is
available to all IBM employees worldwide, IBM executive Silvy Vluggen
tells The Advocate.TRANS RIGHTS IBM X560 | ADVOCATE.COMJohnson & Johnson: This Fortune 500 company provides coverage
for gender-reassignment surgery as well as mental health counseling.
Carol Goodrich, Johnson & Johnson’s director of corporate media
relations, says the company’s LGBT affinity group keeps human resources
apprised of necessary policy changes and updates. “We’ve got a very
strong LGBT community at Johnson & Johnson,” Goodrich says.