What should you do if a client comes out as transgender?

There is currently no data on the UK trans population but is estimated to be between 200,000 and 500,000*.

As a top trans employer**, Aviva works closely with the transgender community to understand their needs and support trans employees and customers. But, would you know what to do if a client came out to you as transgender?

Signpost yourself as an LGBT-friendly firm — this will remove some of the barriers that might deter someone from seeking financial advice. Their previous experience of financial advice may not be a positive one, as some advisers may be afraid of asking questions or embarrassed themselves.

Instances of gender dysmorphia, transitioning and transgender issues are more likely to occur as visibility increases. By setting a positive atmosphere and culture by treating transgender clients as nothing remarkable, it will help other to follow. Furthermore, their family members and friends are likely to favour your services as a place that offers a good experience for transgender people they know.

Ensure transgender clients are welcomed, included and valued, and ensure they are treated appropriately. Don’t assume someone’s gender simply by their appearance.

The process of transitioning will differ from one person to another but is essentially the social and/or medical steps an individual takes to live in the gender with which they identify. This may include manner of dress, mannerisms, names, pronouns and speech patterns.

Medical transitioning may include hormone therapy or surgical procedures or both. In some cases, the process involves psychological testing, monitoring and social transition prior to any medical transition. It’s important to remember that a medical transition won’t be appropriate in all cases.

Listen to your client: Each transition is unique. Ask how they’d like their transition to be managed. For example, some trans people will describe themselves as non-binary. This is a term for people who don’t identify as only make or only female, or who may identify as both. Let them know you will be supportive.

Promote awareness and inclusiveness: Your client’s transition may be the first time you or your firm experiences the issues trans individuals face. Encourage them to become LGBT+ allies so they are visibly supportive of all trans clients.

Be supportive: You client may be nervous in the early stages of presenting in their preferred gender. You should ask them if they would benefit from being accompanied by someone they trust.

Confidentiality: When your client informs you of their intention to transition you should ensure this isn’t disclosed to anybody without their consent. Discuss with your client how they want others they may come into contact with at the firm to be made aware of their intention. Agree with your client who is to be informed and they way in which this will be done. Ensure your colleagues are made aware of information available to help them understand what your client may be experiencing.

Name change: Your client is likely to change their name as part of their transition. Once this happens, you should ensure that your client is addressed by their new name and also use any pronouns they have asked to be used.

For more information about diversity and inclusion at Aviva, click here.