Working Remotely, Some Transgender People Saw an Opportunity to Change

Working from home during the pandemic was a welcome reprieve. She had time to herself to think about what changes she wanted to make to her life, and what was stopping her from undergoing facial feminization surgery. When Samsung added coverage for transition surgeries in 2021, she said she was overjoyed.

Ms. Mack said she had struggled all her life with gender dysphoria, a medical term that refers to the distress or discomfort that occurs when one’s gender identity does not align with the sex assigned at birth. She recovered from her two facial feminization surgeries at Northwell Health in 2021 while working from home, turning her camera off during some calls. Her angst has since lifted, she said.

Now, she said, “I can, without makeup on, just be grubbing it — not wearing earrings, not wearing jewelry — and just walk into a women’s bathroom and not worry, and that has been the most freeing thing on this planet.”

Even in the most liberal cities and workplaces, many people are clearly perplexed or feel threatened by efforts at inclusiveness focused on identity, as well as by changes in culture and language, from acronyms to preferred pronouns.

David Baboolall, an associate partner at McKinsey who co-wrote its transgender report and who, as a transgender person, uses the pronoun “they,” said that corporate diversity training programs sometimes focus on the experiences of gay people while glossing over the experiences of transgender or nonbinary people, they said.

“Our experience gets erased or ignored because people simply don’t have the vocabulary to talk about it, or they’re afraid they’ll cause offense by getting the words they do actually know wrong,” they said. “To craft more inclusive policies, it’s important to understand that education is so important here.”

Part of creating an inclusive working environment means investing in employee affinity groups and creating guides for managers, several transgender and gender-fluid people said in interviews.