When an individual transitions, both they and their colleagues might be somewhat anxious about this unfamiliar situation. The process of transition is complex and requires understanding on all sides. Individuals and their colleagues may need support, guidance and some awareness-raising activities. It is normal for people to be curious, as they might be any time a colleague experiences a major life change. Interest is often not intended to be intrusive, but may simply be a way of expressing support. The person who is transitioning may need to be willing to engage with their colleagues and also to tolerate questions and mistakes: years of habit are hard to change. However, it is important that a spirit of mutual respect is maintained.
For the individual
For the organisational lead
New students or members of staff may or may not be open about their trans status, or may disclose their status confidentially to some colleagues, managers, tutors or other staff. When this happens, the person with whom the information is shared should explore whether the individual has any ongoing support related to their transition, for example in relation to ongoing health care, and whether any action is needed by the department or college. Remember that details of trans status should be treated as confidential information.
The following informal guidelines from the Equality Challenge Unit on how to treat trans people may be helpful for colleagues or fellow students.
 Trans staff and students in HE and colleges: improving experiences (2016) Equality Challenge Unit www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/trans-staff-and-students-in-he-and-colleges-improving-experiences
A member of staff who was transitioning went on holiday. During their absence another trans member of staff gave a transgender awareness talk to the department, covering the basics of what trans is, what terms mean, legal obligations and dos and don’ts. They explained that their colleague was transitioning and would be returning with a changed name and gender presentation. Colleagues could ask questions and were prepared to welcome back their colleague.
It’s easier to treat someone respectfully if you’re thinking of them how they’d like to be thought of. It’s much more difficult to interact with somebody when you’re thinking “she… but I must say ‘they’”, than it is to interact with somebody when you’re just thinking “they”. This isn’t a change that happens overnight – I still think of myself as “she” sometimes, five years after I first told somebody that “they” felt like a better fit! (Staff)