The term transgender describes someone who identifies as a different gender to the sex they were assigned at birth. Other identities such as non-binary and gender fluid also fall into the same gender-diverse group. The process of ‘coming out’ means to disclose one’s identity to others; something that will usually occur multiple times over the course of their life.
Whilst it is legal to undergo transitioning and be out as trans in the UK, many in the community are still subjected to transphobia and discrimination. With increased scrutiny and discussion over recent times, trans women in particular often find themselves at the centre of debate in the media. According to Transgender Europe, 375 trans and gender-diverse individuals were killed in 2021. As well as a rise in deaths of 7% from 2020’s data, 96% of those murdered were trans women, reflecting the even greater stigma towards this part of the community. The situation appears to be similarly bleak in the workplace. A survey conducted by Totaljobs in 2021 found that of those surveyed, 65% of trans employees hide their identity at work; an increase of 52% since 2016. For this to be reduced, there are numerous ways employers can achieve this. Here, we detail some effective solutions:
- Organisations can benefit from taking part in both Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and trans awareness courses. These programmes can help to educate employees about being transgender and transphobia, from direct harassment to microaggressions.
- Normalising the inclusion of pronouns in the workplace ensures that everyone feels safe to express themselves without fear of repercussion. This can be achieved by providing the option of pronouns on application forms, however this should not be compulsory as it may force people into a situation they are uncomfortable with. Additionally, pronouns can also be included in email signatures and on names during webinars.
- Wellbeing support should be easily accessible, particularly for those going through the process of gender reassignment and/or suffering from gender dysphoria; often a catalyst for mental health problems.
- Introduce gender neutral toilets into the workplace or allow trans members of staff to use whichever they’re most comfortable with. They should not be delegated to accessible toilets as this may lead to trans individuals feeling alienated.
- Always address trans people by their name and use the correct pronouns. Never out an individual to those who are unaware of their situation. By doing so, you could be putting their safety at risk. Allow the individual to make that decision themselves.
Following the above points will ensure a trans-inclusive workplace and hopefully, contribute towards the fight for trans rights in general. Ultimately, the message is: be respectful.
Our Implementing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion online course, which takes a deep dive into the LGBTQ+ community is available to purchase here.
This article has been written by someone outside of the trans community. If any mistakes have been made, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!