I am a 35 year old transgender woman who is looking to go back to college and get a degree. Since being transgender in our society is still not totally accepted, job discrimination is prevalent in the trans community. Rather then rest on my laurels and bank on my job that I have with the aid of a high school diploma forever, I am looking to get a degree to help me assist finding another job.

That's where you lovely people come in!

My question is basically the title, is the HR field a LGBT friendly one? I have been thinking about it as a career choice based not only my own personality, but also because it seems to me that the department most familiar with anti-discrimination laws and, in theory at least, staffed with empathetic people, would be the most receptive to hiring a trans woman.

Does anyone have any insight or first hand experience with this? I am trying to ask around and do my homework before I commit to spending a lot of money on a degree that, in the end, may prove to be less than ideal.

Thank you to anyone that can shed some light on their experiences!

From United States, Los Angeles
Dear Chlo Chlo,

Well, you have written about your career aspiration and you belong to the marginal element of the society. Your question is whether profession in HR is friendly towards LGBT community? A quick answer is HR is friendly or unfriendly as much other management functions are. Nevertheless, much depends on the country that you belong to. Are you from US or India? If former, then there is some degree of liberal social environment. In contrast, India is very conservative and people may not like to mix up with those whose gender is anything other than two fixed genders. In fact many may not know the full form of LGBT. Unfortunately, people from this community are referred with single-word offensive term.

LGBT community does not have legal sanction in India. Delhi High Court has ruled that Article 377 of the Constitution has no place in 21st century and recommended central government to scrap it. Central government is dilly-dallying to scrap it considering the social backlash. The government is sitting on the court ruling and has maintained status quo.

LGBT or otherwise, desire to grow in your career is appreciable. Now coming to the choice to grow in the particular field. In your post, you have not written about the nature of your industry, type of work that you do, what are your strengths etc. Career growth is important and it need not come only from HR. Yes, HR profession is dynamic it is also beset with its innate challenges which are applicable to all and not gender-specific. Therefore, my recommendation is to build on your past career and do a course that is allied to your current profession. For example, if you are working in hospital then you may do Diploma in Hospital Administration. If you work in general stores then you may do a certificate course in stores, warehouse, logistics etc.

You are in the middle of your career. At this stage will it be possible to for you to do a regular education course? Is your financial condition supportive to do that? Would you like to do correspondence course or regular course? These questions are applicable to all type of courses, HR or otherwise. Considering social discrimination that you might face, rather than HR, you may step into finance or purchase department. Persons working in these departments are overall secluded. Therefore, less interaction with other people and and less discrimination. If you are a graduate then you may do graduation in law. Working in lawyer's firm is safe bet.

Overall the way you have written your post, it shows that you have good written communication skills. Even after doing MBA, few members' posts are egregious. In contrast, you seem to have better drafting skills. Yes, some training is required but you have foundation on which you can build on. Try encashing on your strength!

All the best!

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

Thank you for taking the time to respond! I do live in the United States, specifically in California. Gender identity is a protected class in California per the stats interpretation of title IX of the Constitution. California is quite specific that discrimination in regards to gender identity is against the law, and if there is proof of discrimination the State will gladly sue any company who violates the law. So in that regards I am protected insofar as the State is concerned, I of course realize that most discrimination is never presented as discrimination, but rather is attributed to other factors.

I currently work in the transportation industry, which while not the most conservative of industries, can still be narrow in its view of LGBT people. I have been in this field for 13 years and have been a working professional for 16 years. The last 13 specifically have been in a supervisory/managerial role, with the unique situation where I report directly to both a director of the company as well as the COO. I have been an "unofficial" member of the IT department during the 13 years I have been with my current company, which means that I have handled a majority of IT related issues for our department, only calling IT when it is too far beyond my skill set.

That is mostly while I think my combination of work experience in combination with my friendly nature and desire to help people would lend itself well to a career in the HR field. I am hesitant to step in to any financial role as in my experience with the local culture, is that its a very male dominated culture. This could just be my limited experience showing, but based on interactions I have had both through my job and privately, this seems to be the case. While working in HR frequently puts you in contact with all employees, I am not worried about their reaction. Most people are wise enough to know that harassing a HR employee is generally a good way to lose their job, I am more concerned about the people that I would work with and hire me within the department itself.

From United States, Los Angeles
Dear Chlo Chlo,

As you are from USA, I will not be able to give comments on the culture over there. My views would be India centric when it comes to social order or societal prejudices.

For career planning, time being keep aside your gender. If you have worked in transportation industry then you should do a course that is suitable to the transportation industry. Secondly, you have written that you report to Director as well as COO. Then why not to ask to these people about how to develop the career or what type of course to do? Either of them might be able to give you insight on which university is better and the course that has practical value.

If you wish to enter into HR field then please talk to HR of your company as well as HRs from transportation industry and take a feedback. Even if you do a course in HR, the most suitable industry for you is transportation industry. Please note that you may remain in operations or HR or any other department, finally transportation is industry that will help you grow.

All the best!

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear Chlo,
I am sure you have got good feed back on your query from Mr.Dinesh. I would add, since you are already way ahead in the Transportation industry the right choice for you to pursue would be 'Supply chain management' 'Imports & Exports' and 'International Trade/Business' course. Back in India there are a few institutions & Universities offering the PG Dip./degree courses in these lines which I would suggest for your further studies. If you would like to switch over other fields then there are various other options. All the very best.

From India, Bangalore
Dear Chlo Chlo,
It is understood from your post that you are a transgender woman working for last over15 years in California at supervisory/managerial level in transport industry and that you have career growth aspirations.At the same time, you have rightfully apprehension about acceptance of your LGBT gender orientation for a career in HR .
In India, your acceptance will be fraught with immense difficulties, as the the society still has hold of orthodox views as regards your gender orientation.
It would be prudent, therefore, at this stage to seek career progression opportunities in LGBT friendly countries rather than in India.
Vinayak Nagarkar

From India, Mumbai

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