The Benefits Playbook

Creating a Safe Workplace Through Inclusivity, Benefits, and Education with Ben Greene, Public Speaker & LGBTQ+ Inclusion Consultant

Episode Summary

This episode features an interview with Ben Greene. Ben is an international public speaker and LGBTQ+ inclusion consultant, as well as an author and an advocate for transgender youth. In 2019, he gave a successful TEDx Talk called “Where are you sitting?” and has since traveled the world speaking in different domains like HR conferences, DEI summits, and government agencies like NASA. In this episode, Sasha and Ben discuss inclusion consulting, what carriers get wrong about member experience, and the platinum standard of inclusive healthcare.

Episode Notes

This episode features an interview with Ben Greene. Ben is an international public speaker and LGBTQ+ inclusion consultant, as well as an author and an advocate for transgender youth. In 2019, he gave a successful TEDx Talk called “Where are you sitting?” and has since traveled the world speaking in different domains like HR conferences, DEI summits, and government agencies like NASA.

In this episode, Sasha and Ben discuss inclusion consulting, what carriers get wrong about member experience, and the platinum standard of inclusive healthcare.


“The biggest thing would be really making sure that gender affirming care is covered by your benefits plan. Gender affirming care looks like things like top surgery and bottom surgery, which is what they're called colloquially. That's what I would consider the silver standard of gender affirming care coverage. The gold standard would include things like facial feminization surgery. It might include something like voice therapy. Also, for LGBTQ folks overall, different fertility options. Looking at something like IVF. Care that includes inclusive family-building or adoption coverage, and working that in with your parental leave as well. If we want to talk about the new platinum standard, something else that I hate that I have to recommend, but that is becoming increasingly important to both LGBTQ people overall, as well as parents of transgender young people, is relocation coverage.” – Ben Greene


Episode Timestamps:

*(01:11): Ben’s background 

*(05:56): Ben explains his role as an inclusion consultant 

*(12:11): Do’s and don’ts of creating an inclusive workplace

*(16:38): Must-have benefits

*(22:25): What carriers get wrong about member experience 

*(27:21): Ben’s advice for those looking to become an advocate



Visit Ben’s website

Connect with Ben on LinkedIn

Follow Ben on Instagram

Follow Ben on TikTok

Pre-order Ben’s book


Human Rights Campaign



Connect with Sasha on LinkedIn

Learn more about Collective Health

Episode Transcription

Sasha Yamaguchi: Let's face it, healthcare is confusing and costs are continuing to rise. Employers are looking for ways to improve the health of their people and their bottom lines. The good news? Many leading companies are leveraging self funded health plans and innovative benefit solutions to do just that. Learn from some of the best minds in employee health.

Sasha Yamaguchi: Welcome to the Benefits Playbook, Strategies for Self Funded Health Plans. I'm your host, Sasha Yamaguchi, Commercial Leader at Collective Health. Welcome everyone. On today's episode, we are joined by Ben Green. Ben is an international public speaker and LGBTQ inclusion consultant, as well as an author and an advocate for transgender young people.

Sasha Yamaguchi: In 2019, he gave a successful TEDx talk called Where Are You Sitting? and has since spoken in several areas, including HR conferences, DEI summits, and government agencies like NASA. Ben, thank you so much for being with us today. 

Ben Greene: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It's so exciting to be here. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: Great. So, I would love to start out.

Sasha Yamaguchi: I want everyone to get to know you a little bit. I'm of course very excited to talk with you today about LGBTQ inclusion in healthcare. But first, maybe share a little bit with the audience about who you are, your story, and what you do today.

Ben Greene: Yeah, absolutely. So, my whole life kind of revolves around the phrase, be the person you needed when you were younger. So I came out as transgender at 15 in a small town, and that kind of meant that I had to build all the support systems around me as I realized I needed them. I say I was jumping out of a plane with a tarp and a sewing kit. And as an adult, I've committed my career to being the parachute factory. So I go to companies, schools, hospitals, really anywhere people will have me to help build those inclusive and supportive systems so that other transgender and LGBTQ and people in general Just get to show up and be supported by default rather than building their own systems as they realize they need them, typically a little bit too late. So I love the work that I get to do, and I do so much work with families of transgender young people as well. 

Ben Greene: I've got a book coming out this spring called My Child is Trans, Now What? So I just, I work in all areas of inclusion and just trying to build a world that I want to live in. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: That's wonderful.

Sasha Yamaguchi: And I'm guessing with that, you're on the road a lot and meeting with folks pretty often. 

Ben Greene: Definitely. Yes, meet a lot of very interesting people. And I live in Missouri, so there is no shortage of interesting people. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: Interesting. Well, and I know you grew up in a small town and you were One of two, I believe, transgender people in that small town.

Sasha Yamaguchi: What was that experience like? And obviously it did lead you to the work you do now, but how did it shape you and bring you to where you're at now?

Ben Greene: Yeah, it's such a great question, and that really was such an impactful time in my life. I think one of the biggest ways that that impacted me, in addition to making it into the educator that I am today, is that I didn't really have 

Ben Greene: examples of what it looked like to be trans and really be anything else.

Ben Greene: There was only the one other student. He was the same age as me. And so I didn't know that trans people could grow up or could get married or have jobs. I had really never seen a happy trans adult before. And the people around me, you know, hadn't heard of the term. They hadn't seen a happy trans adult. So really no one knew how to handle it.

Ben Greene: One of the skills that I lacked, which is one of the things that we think of as such a basic skill, was the ability to dream about my future. I had no tools to even envision what is it going to look like when I grow up? What is it going to look like when I get married? I didn't have the tools to even picture that, to hope for it.

Ben Greene: And so then, the summer after my freshman year of college, I saw something that was really pivotal, which was a transgender actor playing a transgender character at an off Broadway play, and he was a little bit older, 

Ben Greene: and he was a grown up, much bigger than me, and I was just like, my mind was blown, and he had a happy ending at the end of this play, and I was just so excited.

Ben Greene: I spent the whole show sitting in my seat and planning out everything I was gonna say to him after the show. I was gonna say, I've never seen someone like myself represented on a stage before. It gives me so much hope for myself and for my future as a transgender man. Thank you. And we'd take a picture.

Ben Greene: He'd sign my playbill. It would be great. I was so ready. And we came into this lobby room after, and I'm on one side and he's on the other, and I take one look at him, and I just start sobbing. I could not get a word out. And he saw me from across the room. He came through the whole crowd. He started crying, and he just grabbed me.

Ben Greene: And we stood there crying in each other's arms, not saying a word, but understanding everything we needed to know about each other. And after two or three minutes, he stepped back and he said, this is it. This is why representation matters. And he told me the story of how he had the exact same thing happen to him 20 years before the first time he saw a trans person on stage and I said, alright, that's it for me.

Ben Greene: Everything I'm going to do from this moment onwards is going to be to the goal of being that for as many people as possible. I want to be the reason someone knows they can get married, knows they can have a job, and have a career, and have a dog, and have a beard, and gray hair, and all the little things I never I want to be the reason someone knows they can dream about their own future, even if they don't want to have the same life as me, I want them to know they have the option to grow up.

Ben Greene: And so that's, it was, you know, challenging, but it was really meaningful that I get to now be that person for so many people. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: That was a moment for you personally, but it sounds like that was also the moment that made you decide to be an educator and an advocate and speak out and be a role model for others.

Ben Greene: Yeah. Absolutely. That was really a turning point in my life and in my career. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: So I'd love to talk a little bit about consulting and inclusion consulting. You're a public speaker, author. You have a book you're working on that's coming out and a consultant. So maybe tell the audience a little bit about your day to day.

Sasha Yamaguchi: How are you spending your time? And again, what types of individuals and groups are you meeting with on a regular basis?

Ben Greene: Yeah, absolutely. So my day to day is different than my evening to evening because I have kind of my two jobs, my corporate and professional side, and then my more like individual support side.

Ben Greene: So on the professional side, my work day, I work for myself, I run my own company, I do, I give speeches to different companies. And anytime I'm trying to think about making change, whatever sphere I'm in, I'm thinking about structural and cultural changes, so when I'm hoping to make cultural changes, that looks like speaking engagements, that looks like having office hours where employees can come ask questions they might be a little bit nervous about, and that's, I'll do every talk from 101, what does it actually mean to be transgender, to how can I give gender affirming medical care to, you know, give the best care to all of my patients.

Ben Greene: So I'm working on those cultural changes through conversations, at the same time as I'm working on making structural changes. So that might be doing a policy review for a company. That might be helping a college write their housing policy. That might be helping someone decide the best practice signage for gender neutral bathrooms or how to handle employees who don't want to use the pronouns of their co workers.

Ben Greene: There are a lot of ways that I help. Make those structural changes at the same time as the cultural change. And if we want to have a really inclusive workplace, we got to have both. So that's my work day. You know, I do those speeches. I also spend a lot of time doing political advocacy because I live in Missouri.

Ben Greene: And even if I don't want to talk about politics, politics wants to talk about me. So I spend a lot of time at our Capitol. And then in the evenings, I spend a lot of time either working on my book, doing publicity for that, or doing a lot of coaching for parents and families of trans young people. Or joining and working with support groups to just come and share some stories and be a force for hope in different support groups around the country.

Ben Greene: So I keep pretty busy. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: Sounds like it. So you mentioned obviously working with companies and in the healthcare space. So how do you start those conversations when you're sitting down with a company that wants to build in more? Inclusivity into their programs. What are you meeting with them about and how are you guiding them to make those adjustments or changes or adds to their programs that they offer their employees?

Ben Greene: Yeah, absolutely. So a big part is coming in and just saying, all right, What am I working with? Because even if I have an ideal of there's a place that's perfect allyship. And if I'm giving you directions on a map, let's say that my house is the allyship house. And I want to give you directions to my house.

Ben Greene: I'm not just going to say turn left because I have no idea where you are. I have no idea who's in the car. And if you're gonna run out of gas, I want to spend a lot of time getting to know you and knowing what your goals are, what you need, what your needs are. So I'll spend a lot of time working with companies to just learn about them.

Ben Greene: The kind of place they're starting from. We'll talk about what policies do you have so far? How have those policies been received? 

Ben Greene: I'll also ask, do you have trans employees who have come out already? And I'll ask to speak to those employees to get their perspective of how are the policies serving you right now?

Ben Greene: How is the culture serving you right now? Do you feel seen and included in all the different areas of your workplace? So I'll kind of figure out What the whole landscape is, and then start making recommendations from there in again, both those structural and those cultural buckets. So whether that looks like saying, have you considered more inclusive benefits packages that include more coverage for gender affirming care, 

Ben Greene: or consider adding a relocation policy for one of the 260, 000 refugee families in the United States who are Fleeing states with laws that they are not safe to exist under.

Ben Greene: All those different pieces I'm starting to say. Now that we've talked and I've identified where the gaps are, both from what I know are the best practices and from what your employees are telling you and telling me that they need, let's talk about how to make those happen. That's great. And I think a lot of companies are interested and excited and open to putting in policies or making changes.

Sasha Yamaguchi: I am curious, have you met with any companies that are Not quite ready to do it or pushing back a little and you've helped them get there. 

Ben Greene: Yeah, you know, I would say in part I've met people who are hesitant, but I would also say that the people who are the most hesitant, the door is not open in the first place for me to start that conversation.

Ben Greene: But what I do see a lot of is companies that are in the middle. Where they say, okay, so we could, you know, make sure this is covered in our benefits. We could make sure we have these policies, but we don't have any trans employees. So we're not worried about this yet. We're supportive. We're allies. We're ready to work on those policies once we know we need them.

Ben Greene: And then I'll go and they'll say, so we just want to have you do a speaking event. And I'll go and I'll give the speech. And then I would say, probably. 50 percent of the speeches I give where the company says we don't have these policies because we don't have any employees who are coming out, half the time I have an employee reach out to me and say, Hey, I'm so glad my company is finally taking this first step.

Ben Greene: I'm trans and I'm only going to come out when it feels like they're ready for me. Hopefully in a few years they'll be ready and either I'll move on to another company before then or maybe this is a sign that they're actually going to start working on it. So we have kind of like a chicken and the egg situation of like, who's going to be ready? 

Sasha Yamaguchi: And I think that's a great point. I think a company. Maybe open, but they think they don't know it yet, and you just speaking and kind of opening the door allows the employees to also share, and, and probably the company then realize they may need to do it sooner rather than later, so. 

Ben Greene: Exactly. So often they're like, we don't have any trans employees. Right. Only 40 percent of LGBTQ people are fully out in their workplaces. Right. It's very likely you have no idea that you have a trans employee because they don't feel safe enough to come out yet.

Sasha Yamaguchi: Yeah, I think for any employer listening, even if you think that it's worth starting and having someone speak to the company and start that first step, at least.

Ben Greene: Absolutely.

Sasha Yamaguchi: Are there any do's or don'ts, just the top things that come to your mind when you're talking to companies that Immediately, they could put in to, to be more inclusive. 

Ben Greene: Yeah, I think some of the big, like, the quote unquote quick wins of things you can do kind of right away that you're going to start seeing an impact with.

Ben Greene: The first is educational programming. You know, one of the big things that I see in my work, I expected to see a lot of hate when I got into public speaking. And instead, I started finding everywhere Curiosity or confusion, sometimes even some fear. And so one of the biggest things that people are needing is education.

Ben Greene: And they don't actually know what they're allowed to ask, where they can ask it, who are the trusted sources. It's really hard to be at square one and to see that other people around you are having this conversation and to feel kind of left behind and to not know how to enter the conversation. So having those educational programmings can be really helpful.

Ben Greene: So I would say plan an event, whether it's around a specific awareness day, or a heritage month, or just saying, we're going to do a training on transgender inclusion for our managers or for all of our staff. So putting together those educational programmings are going to be a big one. And I would say one other quick win is a pronoun policy, which I know is one that is kind of a hot topic right now.

Ben Greene: Pronouns are just the words that we use to refer to ourselves and to each other when we're not using our name. I could call you he or she or they. You have a pronoun, and I recommend having it be optional and not required, because as a trans person, I use pronouns as an indicator of safety. Someone shares their pronouns with me, I don't have to try and guess if this is a safe person for me to come out to.

Ben Greene: I know that they're making an active choice to show up as an ally, so when it's required, I don't have that indicator. And some people might not want to be required. They might be questioning their identity. They might speak a first language other than English that doesn't have gender pronouns. There are a lot of reasons why someone might not want to share their pronouns.

Ben Greene: So I would say share the education so people understand why it matters, and give people the option to share their pronouns on their email, their LinkedIn, their Zoom account, or their Teams account, on their name badges, or on their signs outside the door. Find ways for people to be able to share their pronouns.

Ben Greene: It's a small, quick win, and there are some other bigger things you can do. But those are two quick ones that I would say, like today, you could start working on those and they would make a pretty immediate impact. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: That's great. And I love the education piece. And then I think I heard you just say something that I would love to reiterate is because a lot of companies are having employees put pronouns, whether it's on zoom or email.

Sasha Yamaguchi: But I think what you just said that I think is interesting is. It's for you, but it's also more for those that you're reaching out or interacting with that makes them feel that you're open to that conversation. I think that's what you just said, which I think is a really valid and important point.

Ben Greene: It's a way to send a subtle message that says, I'm a safe person, and it's a low lift with a huge impact and like when I'm talking to people who are applying for jobs, I have kind of a worksheet of things of okay, you're looking for a safe company to work for as an LGBTQ person, what do you look for? And I tell people if they don't ask for your pronouns on the job application, don't apply.

Ben Greene: Because at this point, that is something that most people know that we want to ask pronouns that that's a way to show allyship. If a company has not invested that tiny amount of effort in asking your pronouns on the application, what are the odds they're going to invest a lot of effort into showing up for you in a conflict with a manager or changing their benefit package?

Ben Greene: They're not willing to do something little. How likely are they to do something big? And they might say, we're super willing to do something big, but it's not safe for me to make that guess. I'd rather go somewhere that is sending me more of a message that they're more likely to make those big investments and show up for me as real allies and champions. So it really, it is about sending that message of support. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: And I'm glad we hit on that again. And I think just some people think, well, I don't need to put that in my auto signature because I personally don't need to share that with others. But I think to your point, it's opening that door of I'm a safe person for others to interact with me.

Sasha Yamaguchi: So I like how you touched on that. And I don't know that I've heard that often that way. So I wanted the audience to hear that again. So thanks for sharing that. I think that's education right there. So, talking about, we've been talking about just inclusion in general in workplace and plans. When we talk about benefits, obviously, for the healthcare space, are there specific plan designs or just overall benefit options that you suggest companies look at that would be great to consider adding into the overall healthcare benefits plans that they offer their employees?

Ben Greene: Yeah, absolutely. So I think the biggest thing would be really making sure that gender affirming care is covered by your benefits plan. Gender affirming care looks like things like top surgery and bottom surgery, which is what they're called colloquially. That refers to a lot of different procedures, whether it is something like breast implants or a mastectomy or surgery on the bottom half of your body, which There's a lot of different procedures someone might have.

Ben Greene: That's kind of like the baseline and hormone replacement therapy as well. That's what I would consider like the silver standard of gender affirming care coverage. The gold standard would include things like facial feminization surgery. It might include something like voice therapy is a really wonderful transition tool.

Ben Greene: That if you have a deeper voice, a deeper voice is not going to change with hormones or with surgery. You have to kind of train that in. So voice therapy as something that's covered. 

Ben Greene: Also for LGBTQ folks overall, different fertility options. Looking at something like IVF, my wife and I are not going to be able to have kids the quote unquote the easy way or the heavy, heavy air quotes, the normal way. We're going to need some assistance to be able to have a family and that can run us six figures. Trying to put together our family through IVF.  

Ben Greene: So care that includes inclusive family building or adoption coverage. And working that in with your parental leave as well, right? Even if I don't carry a child or if we adopt a child, I'm still going to want to spend time getting to know the new member of my family in whatever way they come to be a part of my life.

Ben Greene: So I would say that's gold standard. is having that facial feminization surgery, IVF coverage, etc. And then if we want to talk about the new platinum standards, something else that I hate that I have to recommend, but that is becoming increasingly important to different, both LGBTQ people overall, as well as parents of transgender young people, is relocation coverage.

Ben Greene: Indeed just had a big thing a few months ago where they announced a fund to be used to help employees relocate out of states. Whether it is your employees who can no longer access their own medical care or use the bathroom without committing a felony in their state, to parents who are being criminalized for supporting their children, your employees can't afford to stay living in the places where they are, but they might not be able to afford to move either, or they might not know they're allowed to if you have physical locations.

Ben Greene: So making it really clear that you can help support employees moving to safer states can be really that kind of top tier of support in our benefits packages. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: No, that's great. We actually spoke to a consultant from healthcare broker and consultant that works on helping employers build their plans, and she hit on these topics as well in that she's, as she's working with her groups and employers about putting things in for this.

Sasha Yamaguchi: I am curious, can you hit a little bit more on the out of state, because you're, Making the point of getting people to a location where they feel safe to have certain services. What does that actual benefit look like? Is it a dollar amount? Have you talked to employers or built that out and maybe you haven't, but I am curious, what's that actual support financially look like?

Ben Greene: Ideally, I would say it would include some level of an actual dollar amount because it's not just coverage for can I access this doctor out of state? It's also how am I going to get there? Am I going to stay there? What's my child care going to look like while I have to travel out of state to get this medical care, right?

Ben Greene: I, I volunteer at Planned Parenthood Clinic in Illinois. which is the closest place to a lot of different states to access a lot of different kinds of health care. People need rental cars, they need child care, they need hotel coverage, people drive hours and hours and hours to be able to get to this Planned Parenthood clinic.

Ben Greene: So I think a dollar amount can be really helpful in giving people all of what they need to get to that place because it's expensive to travel for health care or looking at partnering with organizations like Elevated Access. which is a private group of pilots who will help fly people to states where they can legally access medical care they need.

Ben Greene: So I haven't specifically built out a plan with companies for what that kind of structure looks like for getting the most inclusive out of state health care coverage, but I would say a dollar amount would be the most impactful because it acknowledges that there is so much that goes into getting out of state medical care.

Sasha Yamaguchi: Yes, so I think probably where an employer could start is what are the companies that are helping get members that access? So I, the private pilot association, I had not heard of that one yet, but I'm guessing there also might be solutions, apps, companies out there that also just have a provider network Look up to see where to go for certain services as well.

Ben Greene: Yeah, there's another great organization, a program called the Southern Trans Youth Emergency Project, which also helps people, especially if they have transgender young people, or for transgender people in particular who are in southern states where their care has become illegal, that they also can help you, connect you individually to medical care out of state.

Sasha Yamaguchi: That's great. So we talked a little bit about what to put in quickly. What's the next thing that companies should be looking at? Is there one thing as administrators, so I'm on the administration side, or you could call it a traditional healthcare carrier. Is there one thing that is not being done or is still in the works that You feel would help the community as they access care.

Ben Greene: Yeah, you know, speaking of my own personal experience with working with my health insurance carrier, I think a big thing that isn't really thought about is what is my experience when I'm connecting to my health insurer. So I call them, for example, I needed to get coverage for therapy. I was having a lot of trouble getting coverage for therapy, and care denial is still a very routine challenge.

Ben Greene: For transgender people, there are so many hoops to jump through to get approval for our surgeries, whether that is needing multiple different letters from different surgeons and physicians to get a gender marker change or multiple therapist letters to get permission to have a certain surgery. There are a lot of hoops, and so care denial is a very real thing.

Ben Greene: So I was having a lot of trouble getting approval. for my therapy care. And I called and the person was using my old name, even though I had my name legally changed years ago, it still hadn't all the way been fixed in their system. So they couldn't really tell which name or pronouns to use. And they hadn't marked in my file, you know, what name or pronouns to use.

Ben Greene: So I was already having a fairly uncomfortable interaction. And I said, I'm really hoping to get coverage for my therapist. And she said, well, we have a bunch of therapists who are in network, and I said, yes, none of those therapists know how to treat transgender patients. I have called them. They're not therapists who focus on transgender patients, and I have really specific needs.

Ben Greene: And I had kind of a battle with this health insurance person, with her basically saying, You should be able to see one of our in network therapists. You don't need to see this specific therapist. You can be transgender if you want to be, but therapy is just therapy, and kind of didn't want to cover my therapy.

Ben Greene: So I'm paying out of pocket for my therapy now, which is really challenging, and is a significant expense. So being aware of how are we training the people who are interfacing. With the people who are calling to ask about their benefits, what are our policies for using the preferred names and preferred pronouns of the people who call in, on the mail information that we send and email communication, does that need to be someone's legal name or can we use a preferred name? Just thinking about what the experience is of someone calling in, I think is definitely has quite a long way to go. It can be very hit or miss. I'm either going to call and get someone who's an ally or someone who I've got to spend an extra 30 minutes.

Ben Greene: That's teaching about my identity before I can get permission to go see a doctor. Yeah. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: And I think you just hit on a really valid point of, well, one, we're all trying to make sure that member experience in healthcare is good, is great, is Easy to access, right? So that's the goal is you are reaching out to your carrier, your administrator for your health care.

Sasha Yamaguchi: And we want that to be a great experience for that member. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: And so you just hit on something that I think is important is if you have to call in and spend the first 10, 15, 20 minutes explaining things that Immediately is not a great experience. Yeah. And to have to do that more than once. So I think just those phone calls coming in are really important and I was going to ask, and I think you're already hitting on this, is just overall, why inclusivity within the program, but also the actual experience is so important.

Ben Greene: Yeah, absolutely. I think especially in the healthcare space, one of the biggest challenges we see with the LGBTQ community, and specifically with the trans community, but with the LGBTQ community overall, is healthcare avoidance. We see a lot of people who, including myself, just say it's always such an uphill battle to try to get high quality healthcare. I don't know I'm going to be respected. I don't know the right pronouns are going to be used. Sometimes it could take me hours to make it through a doctor's appointment because I have to stay and educate everyone who's there because they have so many questions. It just, for some people, it's like, honestly, it's not worth it.

Ben Greene: I don't know this is going to be safe. I don't know I'm going to get Competent care or respectful care. And so we see a really huge avoidance of, especially of preventative medicine and of primary care of LGBTQ people, which means that we're spending more on emergency care and on care for problems that have been allowed to get a lot worse because I will avoid going to the doctor as much as I possibly can because I have a history of just not having a great experience with healthcare providers. And that includes with my experience dealing with health insurance as well. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: That is, in general, an issue within healthcare of people not going in for preventative. You're hitting on it as well for your community in that they aren't going in because they feel it's not going to be a great experience, which we need to change, obviously.

Sasha Yamaguchi: I love that we started this podcast, Ben, of you sharing your personal story and then how you became an educator and from meeting that individual at the Off Broadway play and watching them and relating to them. If anyone's listening, because we have a wide audience of health care benefits, carriers, employers, but also non health care related individuals listening in, maybe they also want to become an advocate, right?

Sasha Yamaguchi: So any advice or tips or tricks that you would give someone to feel confident in also starting that journey?

Ben Greene: Yeah, that's such a fantastic question, and I really wish that I had had someone early in my career who could have said like, hey, let me teach you everything, you know, you need to know about public speaking.

Ben Greene: I think the biggest thing, and this is for anyone who wants to advocate for this community, it's not just the young people, but it's also their families and their allies telling stories. has the biggest difference, right? There's a quote that I love, which is that people won't remember what you said, but they'll remember how you made them feel.

Ben Greene: So if you're trying to advocate to make a difference, your story, your experiences, whatever that may be, is what's going to drive the most change. And know that it's okay not to be an expert. Know that it's okay to just be a person advocating for things. I would try to find as many opportunities as I can to learn about things, and I'm very proud when I can say, I don't know, as an answer to a question, and then I say, here's a resource I trust, let's go learn more together.

Ben Greene: It's okay to be a normal person who doesn't know everything while you are advocating for this. 

Ben Greene: So I would say work on your learning, I would say find your most important stories, and I would say remember to share the joy as well. Stories I used to share were like my darkest rock bottom moments, and it was exhausting for me to tell those stories, and I realized that it was sending a message of a lot of negativity and just adding to this idea.

Ben Greene: That trans people are only ever miserable. And so I started changing my stories to be more focused on the joy that I've gotten to experience in my life while honoring that there has been a lot of pain and discrimination, etc. So finding those joyful stories that fill your cup to be able to tell while still making that impact can be Really helpful.

Ben Greene: Make sure you're finding systems that allow you to rest and recharge because it can be really challenging to do this work. And I would say find other people to connect with who are doing this. There are, as it turns out, quite a few of us in this space and everyone I have ever met has been very like, of course, I'll tell you what I charge.

Ben Greene: Of course, I'll tell you my favorite way to define this term to an audience. My career goal is to work myself out of a job. I don't have competition. I have colleagues. Everyone who does the same job as me. Great. Let's all help me retire young because we've made the whole world inclusive. So I would say find peers who you trust, who you look up to, find role models, continue to tell your story wherever you can, and acknowledge, you know, where your strengths are and play to those superpowers.

Sasha Yamaguchi: Well, that's wonderful, and I love that you say, share the joy and the good stories, because I feel like there could be people that want to come out or share more about themselves, but when they don't hear the good stories, it's all scary, right, to your point? And it doesn't necessarily always have to be that journey for everybody, so I feel like them hearing the good side, the good stories, the joy helps them feel more comfortable and maybe not retract a little.

Sasha Yamaguchi: I would love to end. I'm sure you have tons of resources. I know you have tons of personal information. I want to turn it over to you for a minute. Please share with everyone how they can reach out to you. Definitely your TEDx talk, I think is wonderful, but please share a little bit about any other resources that you feel are helpful for anyone listening.

Ben Greene: Yeah, absolutely. So if you want to reach out to me personally to talk more about how you can build an inclusive workplace, my website is bgtranstalks. com. I came up with it in college, I thought it was very clever, and it works well enough for me now. I'm also Ben Green on LinkedIn and on Instagram and TikTok as well.

Ben Greene: If you are the parent of a transgender young person, because I know that's how a lot of people tend to find my work, or just is a lens that a lot of people bring to these conversations. I would recommend looking at an organization like PFLAG, or checking out my new book, My Child is Trans, Now What?, or reach out to me individually if you want some support with how you can best show up for your child or your nephew or your partner, etc.

Ben Greene: For additional resources on how to build the most inclusive workplaces, I would highly recommend looking at groups like the Human Rights Campaign or Gay Lesbian Student Education Network if you work in education. If you work in healthcare, I would recommend reading journals published by groups like GLMA.

Ben Greene: The Gay Lesbian Medical Association, they've got a lot of wonderful information they share about best practice medical care, insurance, all that amazing stuff. So those are a couple of great starter resources, and I would love to hear from you if there's anything I can do to lift you up. 

Sasha Yamaguchi: Great. Thank you so much, Ben, and great resources.

Sasha Yamaguchi: I appreciate you sharing all of those and thank you so much for being with us today and obviously covering and talking about such an important topic for healthcare, for employers. We really appreciate you being with us today. 

Ben Greene: Absolutely. Thank you for having me and for using your platform to have this important conversation. I really appreciate it.

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