Career Guidance for Trans & Non-Binary Folks

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Job Search Considerations

The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) tracks over 50 different LGBTQ-related laws and policies. This map shows the overall policy tallies (as distinct from sexual orientation or gender identity tallies) for each state, the District of Columbia, and the five populated U.S. territories. A state’s policy tally scores the laws and policies within each state that shape LGBTQ people’s lives, experiences, and equality. The major categories of laws covered by the policy tally include: Relationship & Parental Recognition, Nondiscrimination, Religious Exemptions, LGBTQ Youth, Health Care, Criminal Justice, and Identity Documents.

For example, the following 17 states do not offer LGBT employees statewide protection, according to the Movement Advancement Project:

 Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming

Assessing Company Safety

An important thing to note is that not one of these things guarantees that a workplace will be safe for you. A workplace could check every box, and you can still end up in an unsafe work environment. However, looking for company safety beforehand can still be a helpful tool to ensure that if something happens, you have supports in place to take action.

Look at: Social Media, News, Google Images, Website, etc.

At the minimum, you should be able to find some type of LGBTQ+ affirmation (e.g. employees holding a rainbow flag, social media posts, etc.).

  • If you are not seeing this, it may be a sign that they are not a safe work environment for LGBTQ+ folks. However, take into consideration the size of the company and other factors into consideration.
  • If you are seeing this, it is generally a good sign, however it does not guarantee that all aspects of the organization are supportive of LGBTQ+ folks. They could be engaging in rainbow washing.

Look for reviews of the organization and its leadership. The largest example of this is the Corporate Equality Index created by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Look for the organizations and charities they support.

Survey the uppermost ranks of management for minorities and women. This can be a way to see if they uplift folks with diverse experiences and backgrounds.

Non-Discrimination Policies are policies that help protect minoritized folks from workplace discrimination. Here’s a Guide to finding a non-discrimination policies. in particular, make sure that the non-discrimination policy includes “Sexual Orientation” and “Gender Identity” as explicit terms.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies are put in place to help support the idea that everyone should be treated fairly when they’re considered for various employment decisions (including hiring, promotion, termination, compensation, etc.). They should often be included in the job posting, but also may be on the organization’s careers page. You can look at this article for more information.

Determining healthcare coverage can be a great way to see if a company is truly supportive of LGBTQ+ folks. To find employee benefits, when you are not currently an employee, you can often look on their “Careers” page, or try to search: “[Employer Name] employee benefits” on Google.

A few key things to look at are:

  • Domestic Partner Health and Additional Inclusive Benefits
  • Family Medical Leave Includes Domestic Partners
  • Transgender-Inclusive Health Benefits in Summary Plan Description

An informational interview is a way to get an insider view into a job/industry you’re interested in by hearing about it from a current professional working in the field. These can be especially helpful when you are trying to figure out whether a workplace is actually a safe environment for you to work in.

Questions to ask during an Informational Interview (Created by Puget Sound’s Career & Employment Services)

  • How does this organization welcome and create a sense of belonging among employees?
  • How did you build a support network at this organization as an intern/entry-level professional?
  • What is the work environment and culture like at this organization?
  • How does this organization engage colleagues in conversations about inclusion?
  • Does this organization have affinity or alliance/employee resource groups or mentorship programs?
  • How does this organization listen and incorporate feedback from employees?
  • What type of professional development is offered at this organization?
  • How does this organization promote or retain their employees?
  • How has this organization responded to the increased and widespread awareness around equity and social justice?
  • How does this organization respond to national calls to action around equity and justice?

For general questions, see the KatieCareer Guide to Informational Interviews

An article written on Mossier (2020) explains questions that you can ask in an interview to assess company safety:

Questions to ask during an Informational Interview (Created by Puget Sound’s Career & Employment Services)

  • What identities are represented in company leadership?
    • This can start the conversation around gender, identity, and orientation – and remember, so many businesses lead by a vision that someone at the top has put into place. So, where is their influence? Is there LGBTQ representation in the c-suite? Or, even on their board of directors?
  • What sort of ongoing commitment have you made to cultural competency?
    • If the answer is seems focused only on one-and-done training exercises, it could be a flag that you need to dig a little deeper. We want to see organizations making commitments to their staff at all LGBTQ intersections, and this includes topics such as race and cultural backgrounds. Other questions in this area are: What type of training is required for HR, managers, executive team, and all staff? How long have they had this practice in place?
  • What ERG’s (employee resource groups) are available?
    • We strongly believe that your choice to be out at work is an indicator of your ability to succeed at this job. Understanding what support networks exist within the organization, how long they have had these groups, and how they support them throughout the year. Also, is there public documentation about their diversity, LGBTQ inclusion, accessibility, and racial equity commitments? Do they support Pride or other LGBTQ events throughout the year? This is a great area to spark a rich conversation with the organization to tell them what’s important to you!
  • Do you have healthcare options that are trans-inclusive, and those that are inclusive for same-sex couples?
    • While it’s likely going to take reading more about the individual plan itself, this is where you can start probing to find out how their commitment to everyone LGBTQ is shown through their benefits. It’s good that you ask this, even if you are not trans or in a same-sex relationship: It sends a message to the organization that they should be considering this, not to mention giving you insight on how they’ve prioritized our community.
  • Other questions that speak to LGBTQ-inclusive organizational practices are:
    • What is your dress code, and how does it gender people?
    • Does your application, background check, email systems, and logins, business cards allow for legal and chosen names?
    • How many gender-neutral bathrooms are there (with how many stalls), and where are they located? Do they have all amenities (menstrual product disposal, mirrors, etc.)? How often are they serviced?
    • What are the restroom and locker room policies? Can employees use the restroom/locker rooms congruent with their gender identities?
    • What bathrooms are available for customers? What are the policies there, and are employees trained on them/if so, how?
    • Are there guidelines for employee pronouns in email signatures, introductions, etc.?
  • How is your organization committing to anti-racism and fighting white supremacy?
    • While this could feel uncomfortable asking this, it’s absolutely OK to do so! Businesses need to make the commitment to dismantling these systems and throughout the past months, many have made public statements about their work in this area. It’s all about accountability, and showing how important this is for both the organization and the staff by asking questions about how they are supporting BIPOC communities through outreach, how they respond to the uprising, and what they are doing to change the narrative in their own spaces – it’s all imperative.

For general questions, see the KatieCareer Guide to Interviewing

Other things to look at include:

  • Availability of gender-neutral restrooms
  • Availability of LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Groups
  • Trainings that include sensitivity to LGBTQ issues
  • You can even get a good (or bad) feeling based on whether the recruiter or main point of contact has their pronouns in their email signature, or introduces their pronouns to you.

Ways to Be Out (or Not) in the Job Search

Just like coming out in general, there is no right or wrong way to come out (or not) when writing your resume. You will want to take into consideration all the information you have gathered about an employer’s work climate as well as your own comfort with being out. We have put together ideas for how to navigate ways to either coming out in the job search, or choosing not to disclose.

Options for listing your name on resumes (if it’s different from your legal name):

  • Just do it! It’s not a legal document.
    • E.g. Caleb Student
  • Put your name in parentheses
    • E.g. Katie (Caleb) Student
  • Use deadname as initial
    • E.g. K. Caleb Student
  • Label your legal name
    • E.g. Caleb Student (Legal Name: Katie Student)
  • Use deadname (if comfortable)
    • E.g. Katie Student

Places where you have to list your legal name:

  • Job Applications (most)
  • Contracts
  • Background check forms
  • Social security documents
  • Tax documents
  • Insurance documents

Places to put pronouns (if comfortable):

  • Resume Header
  • LinkedIn
  • Email Signature
  • Job Application (If available)
  • Zoom & Google Meet Name (During Meetings/Interviews)
  • Verbal and Nonverbal Introductions

It is important to note that some research indicates that job seekers who put non-binary pronouns on their resume face bias in the hiring process.

Another way that one can choose to disclose or not disclose their identity is through sharing LGBTQ+ Organizational Involvement. This is applicable if you have worked in, volunteered at, a setting that is associated with the LGBTQ+ population.
A few options for how to share (or not share) this information include:
• Specifically list your LGBT organizational involvement and tout the experiences, skills and growth you gained while involved in pro-LGBT activities.
• Generically describe the organization(s) – diversity, civil rights, equality, fairness, etc. – and highlight the skills and experience gained rather than the specific work. Some LGBT organization names are generic as is – others you may be able to list by their acronyms.
• Leave out completely references to LGBT organizations. As mentioned before, this is your journey. Don’t list any information if you aren’t comfortable with it potentially raising questions about your identity.

From HRC Guide to Entering the Workforce

Coming Out & Being Out at Work

If you are misgendered/deadnamed in the workplace, you have options for how to proceed. It’s up to you to decide how you respond. Here are a few of the many options to decide between, from the experiences shared by queer folks in the FOLX Health’s article How to Correct Someone When They Misgender You.

“I live in the southern states of the United States, so I typically don’t correct people because I don’t know who is ‘safe’” If they’re my friend, but they keep misgendering me, I’ll call them out like, ‘hey, I’ve told you my identity and pronouns and you don’t seem to respect that and that makes me feel unvalued, invalidated, and disrespected. Please stop.’ If they still keep misgendering me, then I know they’re not actually my friend and I stop talking to them. I deserve basic respect and consideration. That doesn’t make me selfish. I want to surround myself with supportive people who love and respect me and other people like me. There’s nothing wrong with that.” Maxwell (they/he)

“When I first came out [being misgendered] was constant, I would tell them not to assume, and if they weren’t sure [about my pronouns], to ask.” Rachel (she/her)

“I just correct them in a casual way, like ‘by the way, my pronouns are he/him, not (insert incorrect pronouns here’ and if they continue to consistently [misgender me], I take them aside to tell them how much it hurts me.” Orion (he/him)

“​​[It] depends on the relationship and my capacity in the moment. I try to gently and lovingly correct when I have the energy. I find that I have more capacity to correct when it is others who are being misgendered. I really appreciate it when others gently correct folks on my behalf.” Dexter (they/them)

“It depends. If it’s someone I’ll never see again, I ignore it. If it’s a family member or friend or someone I work with, I just say, ‘I use he/they pronouns, please try not to call me by she/her pronouns.’” Ray (he/they)

As a personal suggestion from Meagan Baker, Career Specialist at St. Kates:

“Your body language and tone can really help diffuse a situation and reduce the likelihood that the person will respond defensively. Try to respond “casually,” by keeping your tone lighthearted. It can also help to be as straightforward as possible, and don’t leave room for questioning. Simply correcting by saying the correct pronoun immediately after will help it become more automatic, and will draw less attention than if you are to correct them after the fact.”

If you feel uncomfortable with directly correcting the person who is misgendering/deadnaming you, you can consider asking a trusted supervisor or colleague to help you by correcting them in the future.

Many employers may have very gendered language in their dress code protocols, which can be difficult to navigate for trans/non-binary folks. In 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled that transgender employees were subject to the dress codes of their gender identity, regardless of their sex assigned at birth. That being said, that doesn’t mean you may always feel safe or secure doing so. Ultimately, it is up to you to determine what you feel most comfortable in.

For some gender-neutral guidelines, you can view this article by The Balance.

This article by the New York Times has information about navigating dress codes as a nonbinary person.

According to, if being discriminated against is a worry for you, consult the Human Rights Campaign website to learn more about discrimination laws in your state, including whether or not you are protected by law and what to do if you feel you have been a victim of discrimination.

There are many types of bias that can be faced in the workplace. These guidelines are adapted from Goodman (2011), and can be helpful to navigate responding to any form of bias. These can be used alone, or in combination with one another.
“I think I heard you saying____________ (paraphrase their comments). Is that correct?”
“Could you say more about what you mean by that?”
“How have you come to think that?”

Express empathy and compassion. “It sounds like you’re really frustrated/nervous/angry……..”
“I can understand that you’re upset when you feel disrespected.”
“I know you didn’t realize this, but when you (comment/behavior), it was hurtful/offensive because________. Instead you could (different language or behavior.)”
“I noticed that you (comment/behavior). I used to do/say that too, but then I learned___________.”
“When you (comment/behavior), I felt (feeling) and I would like you to_______________.”

Give information, share your own experience and/or offer alternative perspectives.
“Actually, in my experience__________________.”
“I think that’s a stereotype. I’ve learned that___________________.”
“Another way to look at it is _____.”
“I know you really care about . Acting in this way really undermines those intentions.”

Ask how they would feel if someone said something like that about their group, or their friend/partner/child.
“I know you don’t like the stereotypes about (their group), how do you think he feels when he hears those things about his group?”
“How would you feel if someone said that about/did that to your sister or girlfriend?”

“Come on. You’re too smart to say something so ignorant/offensive.”

As people try to explain their comments, they often realize how silly they sound.
“I don’t get it…….”
“Why is that funny?”

Exaggerate comment, use gentle sarcasm.
“She plays like a girl?” You mean she plays like Serena Williams?” Or Mia Hamm?

“I’m tired of hearing your Muslim jokes. Do you know he’s also studying ____ and likes to ____? You may want to talk with him about that. You actually have a lot in common.”
W.I.I.F.T. (What’s in it for them).

Explain why diversity or that individual/group can be helpful/valuable.
“I know you’re not comfortable with ____ but they can help us reach out to/better serve other groups on campus/in the community.”
“In the real world, we are going to have to work with all sorts of people, so might as well learn how to do it here.”
“That behavior is against our code of conduct and could really get you in trouble.”
Adapted from: Goodman, D. (2011). Promoting Diversity and Social Justice: Educating People from Privileged Groups. New York: Routledge. Excerpt available at

Guide to Transitioning In the Workplace

The HRC Foundation created a guide to coming out and transitioning while actively in the workplace. This can be a helpful tool to find a way to safely navigate your transition into your authentic self.

University of Puget Sound’s Thrival Guide

Much of this page has been focused on difficult topics. It’s also important to focus on how you can have a positive and healthy work and life. This excellent guide created by Puget Sound’s Career & Employment Services focuses on how you can build a community, engage in self-care and community care, find your voice, and maintain resiliency.

Benefits & Healthcare

Many employers have EEO or non-discrimination policies that prohibit gender identity-based discrimination but these policies generally don’t directly affect healthcare coverage.

According to this comprehensive guide by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), it’s important to take proactive measures to ensure that your health care is covered. We recommend you follow the guidance in the article linked, and take proper precautions to ensure your privacy and safety are in place.

Questions You Can Ask About The Healthcare Plan:
• Does the plan have any broad or specific transgender exclusions?
• Does the plan affirm coverage for transition-related care?
• What benefits are specifically available (e.g. mental health counseling, hormone therapy, medical visits, lab procedures, surgical procedures, short-term leave, etc.) through transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage?
• Is a deductible or coinsurance required to utilize transgender inclusive healthcare coverage?
• Do I have to use an in-network provider? What if one isn’t available?
• What documentation do I need to change my/my dependent’s sex in insurance policy records?

Questions from the HRC Guide to Entering the Workforce


Out2Enroll is a national initiative launched in September 2013 to connect our communities—LGBT people and our families, friends, and allies—with the new health insurance coverage options available under the Affordable Care Act.

Finding this detailed level of information about insurance is often difficult and confusing for anyone — transgender or not. By law, employers are required to make summary information about their health insurance plans readily available to employees, but such documentation is not always up to date in practice and, particularly for transgender-related concerns, can provide ambiguous information. Detailed information may not be available to a potential hire until an offer has been made and salary and benefit negotiations have begun.

Additional Tools

These resources are provided by’s LGBT Resource Guide

Transgender legal information helpline

The Transgender Law Center has a legal information helpline that provides transgender people with information about laws and policies that affect them across a variety of areas including employment. They do not provide individualized legal advice or legal representation.

Legal information helpline

The National Center For Lesbian Rights provides free legal assistance through their legal helpline which you can reach by calling 1.800.528.6257 or 415.392.6257. If you are more comfortable with email, you can email them at

Lawyer referral service

Glad has a lawyer referral service which helps put you in contact with a lawyer and walks you through the process of acquiring and speaking to one. GLAD also provides general information about what your rights are and what steps you can take if they have been violated.

Legal service Network Directory

The National Center For Transgender Equality advocates for political and societal change in order to increase understanding and acceptance of transgender people. They have a Legal service Network Directory that provides you with a list of legal help across the country.

Discrimination intake form.

If you want to report LGBTQ or HIV discrimination you can fill out the ACLU intake form.

Request legal assistance

Lambda Legal is a non-profit organization provides LGBTQ+ clients with free legal representation. If you want to talk about your options you can contact your local American Civil Liberties Union affiliate.

OutFront Minnesota | LGBTQ Friendly Attorneys | Employment & Discrimination
Find LGBTQ friendly attorneys in Minnesota. Look for the category Employment & Discrimination to
find those that have expertise with workplace discrimination.

HRC Scholarship Search

Scholarships and Internships from FastWeb. For those interested in internships related to Trans policy, research, support services. This site also has scholarships and fellowships.

Sources for this Blog Post Include:

HRC Guide to Entering the Workforce’s LGBT Resource Guide

Fast Company

FOLX Health’s article How to Correct Someone When They Misgender You

Puget Sound’s Career & Employment Services

Mossier’s List of LGBTQ+ Interview Questions

Goodman, D. (2011). Promoting Diversity and Social Justice: Educating People from Privileged Groups. New York: Routledge. Excerpt available at

By Meagan Baker
Meagan Baker Career Specialist