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More than Pronouns – Supporting LGBTQ+ In the Workplace

Written by O'Connor Professional Group
Published on June 1, 2022

This post is written by Elena Rangel (they/she), a life and recovery coach creating space in the coaching world for LGBTQ+ humans.

My Encouragement to You, Work with More Queer People  

“Is it okay that I just used the word girl? I just don’t get they/them pronouns, isn’t it incorrect grammar? I’m trying but it’s really hard.” As a fairly femme presenting person who uses they/them or she/her pronouns, I hear this. Usually, it is a nervousness based on the desire to do it right.  

I am here to tell you something for well-meaning people who want to do the right thing but don’t know how to show up. In trying to “get it right,” you’re missing the more significant opportunity, one to move beyond “what you’re used to,” and actually experience the person in front of you in their full truth.

supporting LGBTQ+ in the workplace

Embracing Pronouns and Looking Beyond Them to See the Whole Person

When we focus on the discomfort of learning a new language or about different types of relationships, we miss the magic of seeing the real human – one that has trudged through years of hearing that their existence is wrong AND showing up authentically anyway. The person who has risked everything and faces daily challenges to be their full authentic self. How often can you say you’ve done the same?   

Beyond someone’s pronouns and gender identity is a whole expansive human with a story filled with resilience and courage. When queer people walk out of the closet, they can release so many other societal pressures because this often leads to rejection, loss of family and friends, harm from strangers online and in person, and barriers to getting the care they need. When a queer person looks at all of that and still says, “I choose to be here. I choose to be visible and alive, unapologetically,” that is someone that we can all learn from. When queer people are given the space to heal and grow, they live an expansive, joy-filled life. They create or support programs that positively impact their community. They build spaces that are safe for others to explore their most authentic selves. They pave the way for younger generations to not walk through the same challenges and live a more free life.   

Helping Members of the LGBTQ+ Community feel Seen at Work & Beyond

There is a magic in the LGBTQ+ community that is unique and special. In my work with members of the community, I get to experience someone’s eyes light up when they feel seen. I get to watch them take a deep breath and know that they are safe in that moment to be their full self.   

By holding space, and helping someone feel fully accepted and loved as they are, we are doing the healing work that ripples out through generations.  

How to Respect and Validate Queer Coworkers 

It is not hard to love, respect, and validate a queer person’s existence. It is incredibly easy. What it requires is a willingness to grow and try something new. To see that language evolves and self-expression is fluid and ever-changing. Realizing that the way it’s always been done is not the way it can keep going. Not just for queer people but for everyone! How many people make decisions based on fear of judgment and loss instead of following what feels true and right to them? The only way to achieve freedom is to release the need to conform and embrace our authenticity.   

When something makes you uncomfortable, look at it. Get curious about it. What are the things you are struggling with or denying yourself in your life? Could those things be rooted in fear or avoiding a similar type of judgment that queer people experience when living their most authentic lives?  

LGBTQ+ Allyship in the Workplace – Putting it Into Practice

When it comes to using the right pronouns and making the workplace a gender-inclusive space, the work is simple: it’s an education and a minimal effort of doing things a little differently. It gets easier when you are around queer people and can see the impact that gender euphoria or validation creates. To watch a transgender person experience gender euphoria as their outsides start to match their insides gives me goosebumps. When a nonbinary person or trans person makes it to adulthood (52% of trans kids have contemplated suicide), that is a miracle on its own. Still, when they are able to live and celebrate for who they are, they radiate joy that is felt by their whole community.   

Giving care to someone’s pronouns symbolizes respect, respect for their courage, heart, and how hard they had to fight to take up space in the world authentically.  

It is a privilege to work with members of the queer community. When they share their biggest dreams and desires with me, I can genuinely believe in the possibility of a better world. There is no one more inspiring to me than a queer person who has lived their truth in the face of an entire society that has told them their truth is wrong. 

Putting Continuous Effort into Promoting Gender Inclusivity and Queer-Friendly Workspaces – Accepting Others and Living Your Own Truth  

June is Pride Month, and my question for you is: Are there things you’re hiding from or avoiding because society or people around you say it’s wrong? Is there a closet keeping you from your full authenticity? What does it look like to have the courage to walk out?  

Do you need the inspiration to go live in a more authentic way? Seek out and listen to queer stories. They are a privilege to hear and pave the way for all of us to live a little braver and closer to our truth.

O’Connor Professional Group (OPG) offers a breadth of behavioral health services to address the needs of individuals and families living with addictions, eating disorders, mood and personality disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and other behavioral health conditions. If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health disorder or are in need of support, contact us today. Our compassionate professionals are here to help find the resources to support you and your family. 

supporting LGBTQ+ in the workplace

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