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Information for Commanders and Supervisors of Transgender People

HumphriesConferenceOnline Training

We have online training available that goes into more detail about this topic. It's free to take, and if you register and complete all the assessments, you'll get a certificate of completion at the end. Visit our eLearning centre


The Guide for Commanders and Managers and Workplace Transition Guide is an excellent start for how you can create an inclusive environment for transgender people, and supporting people who are transitioning gender.

Transgender people often fear telling others that they have gender dysphoria, or may be undergoing gender transition. This can stem from what may seem like a harmless joke in the workplace, to broader vilification, hatred, and bullying. 

Undergoing realignment is a very personal matter because it affects a person's body. As a commander / manager, it is important that you make a commitment to keep the matter private until your subordinate is ready to disclose their plans for gender transition with others.

A Commander and Supervisor sets the tone and culture for their unit, and this can heavily positively influence the success of a person undergoing gender transition in the workplace.

DEFGLIS has developed the 3R Model to help contextualise the broad phases gender transition. These phases are realisation - realignment - resolution.



Realisation.  A member may seek out and question their gender identity for a variety of reasons. They may have lived for a long or short period of time experiencing concern or distress about their bodies and sex at birth. A member may seek out other transgender personnel to compare what they are feeling with the experiences of others. The process of questioning, seeking out more information, comparing themselves to others to may have been in a similar situation, and/or seeking medical or mental health advice are all elements that may form part of a person coming to the realisation that their gender identity is not matched to their sex at birth.

In many cases, this causes a person anxiety, stress, distress or other health issues. This could be the result of feeling like a person is living a lie and is not able to be genuine with those around them. A specialist medical practitioner is typically consulted, and a person who experiences these symptoms should consult with a medical practitioner for further advise. A specialist medical practitioner is able to provide a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and explore treatment options with transgender people.



Realignment.  Realignment contains the efforts associated with treating a person who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Not every transgender person undergoes realignment because there are risks that each individual needs to consider.

Realignment is a complex process that is different for each individual and may take a few months or a few years. Personnel seeking to undergo realignment will normally consult with commanding officers and managers because workplace transition is an important component of realignment. It is important to ensure that a member receives compassionate understanding and respect from their commander or manager and workplace because it is a critical component of a member's treatment. How a person is treated during realignment significantly affects and shapes how they view your leadership, and the ability of the organisation to live up to its values.

There are two components of realignment: medical and social.

Realignment - Social

3RModelRealignment - Social. Social realignment refers to the range of activities that a person might undertake to adjust to their affirmed gender in the workplace, with their family, and in the broader society. The workplace plays an important role in assisting with a member's social realignment, and their experience during this time has a significant impact on the member.

A commander and manager should discuss how the workplace is to be informed and explore whether there are sensible and practicable considerations to make the work environment more accommodating. What is appropriate will vary depending on the person and the work environment.

If a person desires privacy until the time that they are going to transition the external gender expression, then this should be incorporated into their transition plan. Only a member can provide you with permission to tell another person and you should be extremely cautious to ensure that you do not reveal the identity of a member if you do not have permission to do so.  The DEFGLIS transgender advisers are full-time service personnel and are available to provide you with advice and considerations as part of their secondary duties.

DEFGLIS is a peer support network that provides helps connect transitioning members with others who have undergone transition and support organisations within the community. You can encourage your member to form a positive connection with DEFGLIS or any other reputable peer-support organisation to provide additional support external to the work environment.

Workplace awareness and education about gender transition should be conducted. It is recommended that awareness and education is conducted annually using innovative techniques which create conversations and allows people to explore their unconscious bias. At a minimum, it should be conducted if a member is transitioning, however, this has to be conducted with care and respect for the privacy of a member who is transitioning if the workplace is yet to be informed.

Allowing the workplace to explore unconscious bias and explore their feelings is just as important as supporting the transgender member directly. Through this type of exploration and education, personnel may come to understand how to behave appropriately and consistently with service values on their own terms. The workplace will gain a greater sense of strength and cohesion if everyone has been involved in supporting one of their highly skilled work colleagues through realignment - back into operational service.

The least effective means of achieving workplace inclusion and a successful transition is to rely on a member complaining about bullying, to rely on anti-discrimination legislation and/or unacceptable behaviour policies. These passive methodologies don't encourage the workplace to actively think about why they behave in the way that they do, and they do not bring to light unconscious bias that may affect their behaviour.

Realignment - Medical


Realignment - Medical
. Medical realignment refers to the range of medical treatments that a person might undertake to alleviate gender dysphoria. Commander and Managers should be aware that the details of medical realignment are private. If a member discloses the nature of medical realignment, then this needs to be kept strictly private. No other person in the workplace is entitled to know anything about a member's medical treatments. You can implement standard practices associated with personnel undergoing medical treatments should be employed - which includes taking note of medical advice provided by a medical practitioner when considering the duties of personnel.

FairDay2A commander or manager should not make assumptions about a person's ability to deploy, or their limitations while undergoing treatment. These should be discussed and analysed on a case-by-case basis with the member. There should be no "automatic" management procedures to downgrade a person's medical employment classification (MEC) -- instead, this should be assessed per normal practice which broadly encompasses understanding a person's need for ongoing medical care and treatment against the types of activities that they may be expected to undertake on operations. 



Resolution broadly refers to the point in time that gender dysphoria is relieved to the point where a member can function confidently in their affirmed gender and is operationally ready for deployment.

2014-10-27-HardingwebCommander and managers have personnel with a diverse range of medical needs. In most cases, each individual person will take responsibility for management of their medical needs. If a commander or manager has questions about a persons ability to perform while on deployment, then it a respectful private conversation should be conducted with that member. This would provide an opportunity for a member to confirm readiness for deployment and their ability to manage their own medical needs - or it would provide relevant information that a commander or manager can incorporate into planning for operations.

Normal practice decision making for operational deployments with consideration for minor ongoing medical needs are appropriate for a member in the resolution phase of transition as they are applicable to any member under consideration for operational deployment. 

LGBTI language

Understanding the language and the correct terminology

One of the greatest difficulties occurs by unfamiliarity with language and terms used by transgender people.  To help you, we have developed a Language Survival Guide and a Glossary that may assist you to become more familiar with the language, help create a more inclusive environment and better converse with your subordinates.