How Scotiabank Supported an Employee’s Gender Transition

by Martha Porado
Feb 22, 2019 10:00 AM ET
Article

During an employee’s gender transition, virtually every workplace benefit can come into play, including drug coverage, employee assistance programs, flexible working options, mental-health programs and diversity initiatives. For Tamara Hansen, a delivery manager specialist at Scotiabank, coming out as transgender after more than three decades with her employer has been an emotional journey.

“I get close to tears quite a bit now, and it’s tears of joy,” she says. “Before I transitioned, there was a lot of anxiety and stress. And that, too, was incredibly emotional, but that’s all disappeared and it’s been replaced by joy.”

In 2015, Hansen began hormone replacement therapy. While Scotiabank wasn’t involved in that first step, her group benefits plan covered the drugs, including estrogen and anti-androgens. “I wasn’t about to come out at that point,” she says. “I wanted to see how far the hormone replacement therapy would take things. . . . That took several years and there was always this, ‘Well, if it doesn’t work out, what am I going to do?’ Because once you start hormone replacement therapy, the body starts changing, and you might get to a point where you can’t present properly as male and you can’t present properly as female.”

Workplace support

In 2018, Hansen began reaching out to a few colleagues about her transition. “That was a petrifying moment, but Scotiabank has got a fantastic policy in place, and I knew I could fall back on that,” she says. “I knew the bank would have my back, but when it comes down to it, it’s individuals.”

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