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When you’re a member of the LGBTI community, allies can help you feel free—and safe—to be who you are.
As we recognize International Transgender Day of Visibility, Accenture Business Analyst Fernanda Mayr Ferreira shares how she’s found a culture of acceptance and respect at Accenture, and offers her advice for being an ally in and out of the workplace.
Finding my place
Honoring the International Transgender Day of Visibility is vitally important. It allows trans people to show we are visible—a colleague, listener, friend, mom, artist and so many other things.
Most importantly, we are ourselves, and we deserve respect. Especially in Brazil, where I live and where many trans people die at a tragically young age.
For a transgender person, finding acceptance in the workplace isn’t always easy. After I earned my degree in civil engineering, I worked in the construction industry, an environment I would describe as very male dominated. I felt uncomfortable being my true self at work. I had not yet started my transition and imagined that it might never be possible.
I realized that I needed to make a career change and find an environment where I could be me. I started searching for an opportunity to work in programming, an area I became passionate about in college. And I found Accenture.
The company’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, proved that I found the type of workplace I was seeking.
Support for my transition
I joined Accenture in Brazil in 2018 and have been doing work I enjoy and building my career. Comfortable in my new work environment, I decided to move forward with my gender transition. During that time, Accenture LGBTI allies and Human Resources provided support and helped me feel more comfortable.
I stayed in constant contact with two team members who provided advice and helped guide me through my transition stages. These allies also helped me find ways to communicate to colleagues about what it is like to be trans, to help foster acceptance and understanding.
I can be myself at Accenture. I have not had any difficulties or experienced prejudice for being who I am. I am always treated with respect by leadership and by my co-workers.
Allies play a significant role in advancing equality and creating supportive environments.
Anyone can be a better ally. Here are four steps I recommend:
- Understand the experiences of transgender persons by reading about their challenges and daily life.
- Don’t ask intrusive questions without permission, like “What was your name before?” and “Have you had surgery?”.
- Ask transgender persons what pronouns they use and address them accordingly, whether or not they’re present.
- And, of course, treat transgender people as you would anyone else.
Every person deserves respect—a trans woman is a woman, a trans man is a man and a non-binary person is a person. We all want to be accepted and valued for who we are, and live in an inclusive world where we can be ourselves.
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