Gender segregation is a constant problem in many work teams and is reflected in job positions. The stereotypes associated with femininity and masculinity and professional roles are deeply rooted in culture. Transgender persons still experience certain forms of discrimination in the work environment. The entry of a transgender person into the „territory“ of a cisgender person and vice versa is often not without many complications even today.
Rooted stereotypes and also the experience of so-called tokenism bring complications and have an adverse effect on mental health. Tokenism refers to uniqueness within a homogeneous group its members also tend to generalize and stereotype the position of tokens in the context of gender.
What does it mean if a person becomes a “token”? Tokenism does not improve diversity, but it creates isolation and loneliness. Being just one transperson in a group who shares an identity can create a sense of loneliness. Direct aggression, microagression, a hidden form of unconscious aggression, or unethical communication that is not reflected may occur.
A person who feels like a “token” can suddenly become invisible and ignored. The individual leader of the transperson is not perceived by the team leader, but rather only as a representative of the minority. This can lead to frustration, hopelessness, anger, depression.
Additionally, exhaustion and stress, which is the trigger of burnout syndrome, can manifest in tokenized people. It may be inappropriate for an employer to expect a transperson to teach and explain to colleagues about his or her identity. For example, a transgender employee who is expected to lead sensitivity trainings in a company.
Transgender sensitive, systematic positive education and the code of ethics are a way to gradually reverse stereotypes. If someone feels like a token in the team, a suitable solution is to improve communication, prosocial support and education, and external support in the form of supervision.