Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 25 of 99

F O A M : N E W S + T R E N D S STRATEGIES FOR SUPPORTING AN EMPLOYEE MAKING A GENDER TRANSITION THE PROCESS OF TRANSITIONING genders is a complex one, further complicated by the fact that transgender baristas often undergo the process in the public space of the café. Custom- er-service professions come with built-in power dynamics that can make transitioning even more difficult. As you change gender expression, name, and/or pronouns, the customer responses you receive usually run the gamut from supportive to naturally curious to outright antagonistic, and coworker responses can span the same range. For managers, employers, and coworkers, it's as crucial as it is infinitely possible to create safe and positive space for transitioning employees. This guide will outline how to create a supportive and affirming experience for transitioning baristas from day one. FIRST STEPS HAVE A CONVERSATION The fi rst thing to do when an employee tells you they intend to transi- tion is to express your support. Then, talk to them about what kind of active support measures they'll need from you. Often, the first thing folks will need is communication of new name and/or pronouns. Ernie Torretti, who works as a coffee educator at Ritual Coffee Roasters, recommends asking both if and how the transitioning person wants theses changes communi- cated. "Some folks within Ritual have wanted a group email sent out, and with me it just kind of happened through osmosis, which was my preference. Just having that process be a conversation in which you and your manager are working together is super important," they say. Also important to note is that when sending out a group email, you should not use the employee's pre-transition name, but rather use a picture of them or just their new name to communicate these changes. At no point should you use their former name or pronouns—your employees are smart and will know about whom you're talking. As far as next steps, ask about their needs: Will they require any adjustments to their schedule, either to make room for doctor visits or to change up the customers with whom they interact? Do they want you to arrange a sensitivity training? Is there anything else that needs to happen for them to start their transition comfort- ably? Make sure you do the legwork of creating room for them to talk about their needs, but don't expect that they'll necessarily want any major changes. Support and listen. SIGNAGE AND POLICY One of the first things you should do regardless of whether the transitioning party asks for it is waterproof your anti-harassment policy to make sure that if it doesn't already ban gender-based harassment (like intentional misgendering or intentional repeated use of the wrong name), you explicitly write this in. In addi- tion, make sure to make it clear both on paper and out loud that baristas are allowed to correct misgendering and remove custom- ers who intentionally and/or repeatedly harass baristas. These policies are important and positive to have in place whether or not your crew has trans folks, so if you don't have these procedures defined yet, now is the time. As part of this, make sure all em- 26 barista magazine

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