Guidelines for Inclusion Relating to Gender Transition

Pitt has created Guidelines for Inclusion Relating to Gender Transition to help foster an understanding of transgender issues in the workplace and guidance on how to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for individuals transitioning at the University. Please take a moment to review the Gender Transition Guidelines. 

Guidelines for Inclusion Relating to Gender Transition

Pitt has created these “Guidelines for Inclusion Relating to Gender Transition” to help foster an understanding of transgender issues in the employment environment and guidance on how to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for individuals transitioning at the University.  Please review the section below titled “Terms You May Hear” if you are unfamiliar with the relevant terminology.  The University of Pittsburgh strives to create and maintain an environment where all members of the University community are valued for their strengths, feel respected, and are able to thrive. Diversity and inclusion are core goals and values of the University, critical to the fulfillment of its mission.

These guidelines were created to help foster an understanding of transgender issues in the employment environment and for guidance on how to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for individuals transitioning at the University. If you have questions concerning your responsibilities as a member of the University community, please contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at 412-648-7860.

The University's Commitment to Inclusion, and its Discrimination Prohibition

In its 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, the University has established "Embrace Diversity and Inclusion" as a key goal. Pitt takes very seriously its commitment to ensuring that the needs of all members of our University community are being addressed as we work to continue to enhance our welcoming and inclusive environment.  In addition, Pitt expressly prohibits discrimination against or harassment of members of the University community. That discrimination prohibition includes any discrimination or harassment because of a person’s gender identity or expression. Specifically, "gender identity and expression" is included in the list of characteristics that are protected under Pitt’s Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, Policy No. 07-01-03:

"This policy affirms the University of Pittsburgh commitment to nondiscrimination, equal opportunity, and affirmative action in admissions, employment, access to and treatment in University programs and activities, in accordance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations. (Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; Executive Order 11246, as amended by Executive Order 11375; Revised Order No. 4; the Equal Pay Act of 1963, as amended; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974; Titles VII and VIII of the Public Health Service Act; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, and all other applicable discrimination laws and ordinances of the United States, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City of Pittsburgh, or other applicable regional governance.)"

This is consistent with the University’s values, including equality of opportunity, human dignity, and racial/ethnic and cultural diversity. A University community member’s failure to comply with the above policy violates Pitt's core values. This violation could result in corrective action, up to and including dismissal or termination of their employment. Other important University Policies and practices which prohibit harassment and discrimination include the Provost's Anti-Harassment Policy and the University's Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Important Information

Name Changes and Pronoun Use

Some people may choose to change their first name or to use a preferred name. Consistent with the University’s values of inclusion and respect, you should use a coworker’s preferred name in everyday written and oral speech. In addition, some people may not feel that traditional gender pronouns fit their own gender identity. It can be helpful to ask someone what pronouns they use, and then use the identified pronouns.

Restroom Access

Faculty, staff, and students are welcome to use restrooms that correspond to their gender identity. You should not question individuals about their restroom usage in the absence of a specific concern.  Where a concern exists, it is best to call ODI for guidance.  In addition, single-occupancy or unisex facilities may be found in many University facilities and may be used by all members of the University community.

Appearance Standards

All staff and faculty members are required to comply with the standards of dress and appearance established by their department or workplace.  However, such standards of dress and appearance cannot be discriminatory based upon sex or gender, and should not be based on gender stereotypes.  Harassment and/or discrimination based on professional dress or appearance is prohibited.

Guidelines for Supervisors

If a staff or faculty member informs you of their intention to transition, or is currently in the process of transitioning, your support is critical. Be open-minded and begin a dialogue with the staff or faculty member in order to learn more about that person’s needs and concerns. The ODI can provide advice and assistance for supervisors working with a transitioning staff or faculty member.  Supervisors should be thoughtful when discussing an employee’s transition.  Below are questions to ask yourself before asking personal questions of an employee who is transitioning:

  • Why do I want this information?
  • Would I feel comfortable if someone asked me this question?

If there are performance issues with any staff or faculty member, the supervisor should address the behavior using existing policies and procedures that apply to all staff and faculty members.  Please contact the ODI if you have any questions or concerns.

 Addressing Concerns of Co-workers or Other Members of the University Community

 Please keep in mind that all staff and faculty members are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with University policies and values. Staff or faculty members who raise concerns about a co-worker’s gender identity should be provided with the University’s anti-discrimination policy, harassment policy, and other related policies. Supervisors are also encouraged to provide their concerned staff and faculty members with the link to this webpage.  Staff and faculty should be informed that they must work cooperatively and respectfully with their co-workers regardless of their gender identity.  Failure to do so could result in corrective action, including termination of their employment.  The ODI can help to schedule trainings for staff or faculty members regarding gender identity; training can help to promote a positive work environment for all staff or faculty members. If a staff or faculty member expresses concern regarding a co-worker’s gender identity after reviewing the University’s policies, the supervisor may meet with the staff or faculty member individually to answer questions, or may refer the person to the ODI.

Resources

Internal Resources

  • Office of Diversity and Inclusion (412) 648-7860
  • Human Resources Department (412) 624-7000
  • Faculty and Staff Assistance Program: Life Solutions (800) 647-3327 or http://www.hr.pitt.edu/lifesolutions

External Resources

Terms You May Hear

Gender Identity

A person’s internal, deeply-felt sense of being male, female, a blend of both or neither. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.  We all have a gender identity.

Gender Expression

An individual’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions that are perceived as masculine or feminine.

Gender Non-Conforming

Gender non-conforming people have, or are perceived to have, gender characteristics and/or behaviors that do not conform to traditional or societal expectations.

Transgender

An umbrella term that describes people whose gender identity and/or gender expression is different from their birth assigned gender.

Transition

The process of changing gender from one’s birth-assigned gender to one’s actual gender identity is different for every person. There are many different ways to transition. For some people, it is a complex process that takes place over a long period of time, while for others it is a one- or two-step process that happens more quickly. Transition may include "coming out": telling one’s family, friends, and/or co-workers; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; accessing hormone therapy; and possibly accessing medically necessary surgical procedures.

Transitioning

The term used to describe the process someone goes through to change from one gender to another, with or without medical intervention.