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Greater job satisfaction for transgender employees

November 23, 2016

Transgender individuals in the workplace can sometimes feel stigmatized, either through the actions and attitudes of their coworkers, or through their own fears of being treated as an "other." This can have a negative effect on their attitudes about their jobs.

But recent research from Larry Martinez at Portland State University shows that the experiences of employees who transition genders is highly dependent on the interactions they have with their coworkers. His paper, "The Importance of Being 'Me': The Relation Between Authentic Identity Expression and Transgender Employees' Work-Related Attitudes and Experiences," was published in the Oct. 27 edition of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

In the article, Martinez and his co-researchers found transgender employees' feelings of job satisfaction, "fit" with their organizations, and intentions to stay at their jobs were higher for employees who were further along in their gender transitions in three studies of more than 300 individuals. Furthermore, Martinez tested two possible explanations for this finding. Although feeling a greater alignment between their external expressions of gender and their internal gender identities (by transitioning at work) explained higher job satisfaction, this alignment did not affect the other attitudes.

However, having coworkers that treated the employee in a way that validated and affirmed their preferred gender identity (by using the preferred name, using correct gender pronouns, and treating them in a way consistent with their new gender) explained more positive attitudes across the board. This, Martinez concluded, highlights the importance of not only allowing employees to live and work authentically but of also showing clear signs of support when they do so.
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Portland State University

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