Menopause policy - trans and non-binary employees

Hi everyone, 

We're doing a refresh on our policies ahead of some of the changes in legislation this year. I'm currently on our Menopause Policy. 

The purpose of this policy is support our team and highlight what we offer and how they can feel more comfortable in the workplace. I've also made a concious decision to keep it as a seperate policy instead of including it in our sickness/absence/wellbeing policy because I feel by having a seperate policy might help people feel more comfortable talking about the subject. 

However, someone has thrown a fun thought into the mix this morning, which sparked some debate. They asked if we should be refering to just "women", refering to FtM trans and Non-binery employees and suggested the language used in our policy could be more inclusive. We have a section at the begining of the policy taken from the NHS website defining what menopause/peremenopause is and that is where the reference to "women" comes from. Everywhere else we use the term "employees" 

I'd be interested to hear thoughts on this. 

  • Why not just use the term employees throughout? Don't see this as a huge debate...
  • Why erase the word women? Would you also go through your policies to remove any references to men? Would it not be more inclusive to leave the word women in, and add in the other people to whom the policy might affect?
  • In reply to Sarah:

    Surely easier on any policy to refer to "employees"? Ours use "employees", "your", "they" etc... That's inclusive and less clunky language
  • In reply to Sarah:

    I kind of align with this as menopause primarily affects women... Sharing below the intro for our policy and we then go out to talk about why everyone should 'care' about the menopause.

    The menopause (and perimenopause) is a natural part of ageing for women and this forms a part of our wellbeing approach so that all employees understand what the experience involves for those who experience it and can have supportive conversations. The experience of menopause transition varies significantly between individuals, with symptoms manifesting both physically and psychologically.

    I hope this helps

  • In reply to Damola:

    This was my thinking when I reviewed the policy, I assume the person that wrote it thought the same. I have a similar line in my policy about it being a natural part of a women's life etc. I've re-written this in a number of ways to include "employee" or "people" instead of women, but none of them felt right.

    I really like the little caveat that Steve shared from the CIPD guidance, I think this provides a little catch all.
  • I have an amazing policy that is lengthy if anyone wants a copy just email me at lee.williams@techsolgroup.co.uk and I will send across - also done Menstruation, and Supporting Endometriosis iithe workplace policies too

    Try this:

    Peri-menopause and Menopause are a natural part of every woman’s life, and it can be a difficult and challenging transition. 100% of cis women (cis is a person whose gender identity corresponds with the female sex designation and assigned at birth), non-binary and transgender individuals go through menopause but whilst not every woman suffers with symptoms, supporting those who do, can greatly improve their working experience. It is important that everyone understands what menopause is, and to be able to talk about it without embarrassment, anxiety or distress being caused.

    Transgender health, non-binary and other intersex communities

    Transgender (or trans) people, is a person who does not recognise him/herself with their birth sex and whose gender identity and expression don't match the gender they were assigned at birth, often use gender-affirming care such as HRT to help align their bodies with their gender identity.

    Transgender women — women who may have been assigned male sex at birth — are prescribed oestrogen, an androgen blocker and sometimes a progestogen to assist in medical transition.

    A cisgender person (sometimes cissexual, informally abbreviated ‘cis’) is a person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. For example, someone who identifies as a woman and was identified as female at birth is a cisgender woman. Similar to how menopausal cis women may use (HRT) to replace oestrogen, trans women can use HRT to increase oestrogen levels and lower testosterone levels to assist in feminisation.

    Menopause is framed around the experiences of cisgender women — for whom menopause is a response to reduced ovary functions — but transgender women can experience symptoms of menopause as well as Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS). Like cis women, the symptoms are in response to hormone fluctuations, even if the root causes differ.

    Anyone with a female reproductive system who identifies as a man, but hasn’t undergone any medical interventions, is likely to go through menopause eventually but may not show any or all of the related symptoms.

    Most trans people who start their transition at pre-menopausal age will never go through menopause in terms of the hormone depletion effects. This is because gender affirming hormones are typically given for life, so if a trans person starts hormone treatment before going through menopause they may never experience it. 

    People from the non-binary, and other intersex communities may also experience, menopausal symptoms. Due to a variety of factors, the experience of the menopause may be different for those within these communities.
  • Also you cannot have an effective DEIB policy without including menopause in the strategy as 99.9% of companies fail to include this in their diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging strategies
  • In reply to Lee Richard Williams:

    Just done menopause training for our line managers and appointed menopause champions (outside training company) and a huge menopause resource library with 1750 documents. 

    The cost of the course + menopause guidance library £895 - contact me for details of the external training company, if you want a recommendation (nothing in it for me - but alot of training cowboys now jumping on this bandwagon and seem to be very expensive) - best one I found out of about 6 I reviewed and very reasonable at that £price when recent case law tribunal awarded £125K for failure to support menopausal employee.

    Certainly if or when Labour get in Government - it will certainly be mandatory and prices will rise and why we are doing ours now !! before the rush and big price increases.

  • I think you can be inclusive here without removing the word women. I personally also prefer colleagues, people etc to employees or staff but that's a personal thing.

    The reason for my replying this way is that menopause is a topic that has been impacting women in the workplace for a long time and is only recently getting overdue attention and I think there is a risk of conflating things and potentially inflaming people who might have a range of views on this by omitting the word women and going for some of the clunky versions I have seen online.

    The reality is the majority of people going through the menopause are women and I don't know if I would feel even qualified to know the homronal experience for a trans woman or a trans man even. I don't think I need to in order to show support which is I think what a policy is desgined to do.

    It's a complex topic and even amongst women the experience can vary wildly and occur at any age.

    I would keep it short, sweet, use lots of signposting to a range of useful, credible and inclusive specialist resources and internal support and add to it as and when required.

    If it's phrased in a sensitive and supportive way, anyone impacted by hormonal changes in their bodies at any time during their employment can read it and apply it to them and their situation.
  • Throughout this policy, we refer to those experiencing menopause as 'women'. However, we acknowledge that menopause directly affects everybody who has a menstrual cycle, including non-binary, intersex and trans people. We seek not to generalise or diminish anybody's personal experience
  • In reply to Lee Richard Williams:

    I'd probably steer clear of cis as it excludes people who do not identify with a gender.

    I'd go with a very catch all "women and other employees who have periods" or similar and ensure it focuses on the specific medical condition that is the menopause as it's a menopause policy, and would include transgender employees experiencing side effects from hormone therapy into a wellbeing policy.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    29 Feb, 2024 18:20

    In reply to Lee Richard Williams:

    Is "belonging" a new buzzword?  

  • In reply to Lee Richard Williams:

    Also you cannot have an effective DEIB policy without including menopause in the strategy as 99.9% of companies fail to include this in their diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging strategies

    These seem like contradictory proposals. If such a vast majority of companies don't include it, the logical conclusion is that almost no company has an effective EDI policy. But that's demonstrably not the case.
  • There is - as this thread quite well illustrates - almost no way of approaching this subject without risking upsetting someone. If you refer exclusively to women, you'll upset those who menstruate who don't identify as women. If you refer to employees or colleagues you'll be accused of erasing women. If you refer to women and clarify that you use the term to include all those who menstruate, including trans, non-binary and intersex people, you'll be accused of not seeing those people as "not women". The longer the list of people you need to include becomes and the degree of clarity you have to apply to qualify that list, the more complex and the less useful the policy becomes until the menopause become a footnote in its own policy.

    Fundamentally, the answer is: "we do our best". We do it in a way that meets the needs of our workforce and, as our workforce changes, we respond in kind.

    I happen to think that a lengthy Menopause Policy is a long way down the list of things that will improve conditions for women in the workplace who are over 40, and that better education for all is the most effective tool in delivering change, closely followed by a general, institutional commitment to the strategic value of EDI. If you absolutely have to have a policy then "menopause is a life-altering experience for many people and the company will do all that it can to support those going through it to remain in the workforce and to continue contributing without suffering detriment or discrimination". End of policy.