Gendered Dress Codes in the Workplace

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Conference
2015 National LGBT Conference
Date
21 July 2015
Decision

Conference notes that, although many advances have been made in the treatment of transgender or gender non-conforming workers, harmful gender stereotypes are still being enforced through other means.

Dress codes should serve a legitimate purpose, such as maintaining a desired image with customers and clients, or aiding staff visibility, and these ends can be attained without the need for gender-specific dress requirements.

While all workers are affected by these policies, it is typically those who are at the beginning of, or are considering social gender transition, who suffer most. The extreme anxiety, which often occurs around expressing your gender in a new way, is compounded by the fear of being disciplined by management.

Non-binary workers find it difficult or impossible to follow a gendered dress code and be true to their own identity.

In uniformed workplaces with different versions of uniform available, staff should be able to choose between what was historically the ‘male’ or ‘female’ items without the need to explain why, in the same manner that a change in size is requested. Untying requests like this from a more formalised process of transition will benefit everyone who may be questioning their gender identity or expression.

The arguments that some forms of gender expression are unprofessional, or societal norms dictate that certain items be restricted to only one gender, have been used for too long to shield bigots from criticism, and entrench specific conceptions of gender which have no place in a modern, progressive society.

Conference calls on the national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender committee to work with trans organisations to produce a best practice guide for gender-neutral dress and uniform policy.