On May 20, Trevor Boylston joined us for the first installment of PIOW’s Trans Workplace Inclusion Series. As a panelist on the Learning from Lived Experience Panel, Trevor spoke to the challenges of existing as an out transgender man in professional spaces, as well as the opportunities for learning and change that can present themselves when you choose to share your identity with those around you. Watch the Balancing the Burden of Education feature to learn about Trevor’s story.
Balancing Emotional and Professional Work
It should never be the responsibility of trans employees to share personal information or educate coworkers about gender identity, expression, or related topics. With that in mind, it is a reality that the burden of the “educator” role often falls on trans professionals’ shoulders. Because of this reality, individuals should be prepared to set boundaries with coworkers and companies should be held accountable for providing accessible resources to train staff and alleviate pressure placed on diverse employees.
Written nondiscrimination and trans-affirming policies alone won’t guarantee that a space is safe for transgender and non-binary professionals. In Balancing the Burden of Education, Trevor shares that a coworker repeatedly chose to make transgender jokes in the office and nearby managers failed to implement existing policy to shut down this behavior. Trevor adopted the role of a mediator and educator by pulling his coworker aside for a one-on-one discussion. Engaging in vulnerable conversations and listening with empathy can catalyze personal and organizational change. In Trevor’s case, this moment led to his coming out and inspiring others to commit to allyship and share their own stories more openly.
For trans and non-binary employees: If you choose to educate those around you or advocate on behalf of trans communities, find ways to ground the emotional work you’re engaged in. Differentiate between what can be addressed on an individual level and what topics or incidents should be escalated within your organization. Ask your HR or DEI departments for resources or trainings that match the intensity of requests being made by coworkers.
Trans employees are often forced to find a balance between protecting themselves, performing emotional work, and performing the job for which they were hired. This balancing act can be taxing, demoralizing, and will ultimately lead to a loss of productivity if adequate support is not provided by allies and company leadership.
Organizations can make educational resources and scheduled trainings visible so that trans professionals aren’t positioned as the primary educators within a company. HR departments can work with DEI and ERG teams to clearly outline procedures for reporting or escalating incidents internally. This can help trans employees offload the weight of sharing their own stories and taking on the personal stories of others. Sharing our experiences and learning from each other can be incredibly rewarding, but this level of emotional work should not be expected of trans employees or established as a norm. Interested organizations can find specific support strategies in our Do’s and Don’ts of Trans Allyship blogpost.
For allies: Allyship is an ongoing commitment to support the needs of transgender and non-binary individuals and communities. If you hear somebody making transgender jokes or using transphobic language, speak up in the moment or report such instances to an appropriate team or supervisor. Whether or not you’re aware of affected transgender employees in the room, leverage your privilege, shut down inappropriate conversations, and educate those who are making insensitive comments. Hold yourself accountable as an ally by downloading our LGBTQ+ Allyship Checklist and Educational Resources.
We would like to thank Trevor for taking the time to share his story with our team and event attendees. To hear more from Trevor and all of our event panelists, watch full recordings of our Trans Workplace Inclusion Series online.
Meet Trevor Boylston
Trevor Boylston (he/him) is a Sr. Analyst, Source & Procure, for Boston Scientific, providing procurement support for OEM material in the endoscopy and urology business units. When he’s not focused on supplier diversity, Trevor also acts as the Global Lead for Boston Scientific’s LGBTQ+ ERG called “PRIDE” – Promoting Respect, Inclusion, Diversity, & Equality, and volunteers his time as an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workplace Speaker. Trevor is a member of the Board of Directors at Fenway Health, serving on the Finance Committee.