A study undertaken in February has found that 60% of transgender people have experienced discrimination at work.
The UK survey questioned 435 people who identified as trans. For the purposes of the study, this was taken as an umbrella term to describe anyone who feels that the sex assigned to them at birth incompletely describes or fails to describe them.
Key findings included:
- 60% have experienced trans discrimination at work – 38% from colleagues, 25% from management and 29% during job interview.
- 53% have felt the need to hide their trans status from colleagues.
- 51% believe acceptance and understanding of trans employees has improved in the workplace due to increased media focus on trans issues.
- 50% received positive reactions from colleagues when they transitioned.
- 29% reported not experiencing discrimination at work.
- 43% actively look for companies with trans-friendly policies when applying for jobs.
- 36% of trans people surveyed said they had left a job because the atmosphere at work was unwelcoming to them.
- 43% said they received support and/or guidance from their HR department when transitioning, while 21% said they received no support.
In terms of employer provisions to avoid trans discrimination:
- 21% had no provisions for transgender employees.
- 23% had information on gender identity
- 25% had gender-neutral toilet facilities
- 63% included gender identity in anti-discrimination policies
The results have been released to coincide with International Transgender Day of Visibility (31 March).
Commenting on the results, actress Rebecca Root, of the BBC show Boy Meets Girl said in a statement: ‘Even with the advances made in recent years in changing societal perceptions of the trans community, these figures clearly indicate there is still a way to go in diminishing transphobia in the workplace.
‘The quest for making such spaces safe for trans people must continue.’
Fox Fisher, filmmaker and trans activist, said: ‘Staying in or seeking employment can be a potential nightmare when you’re trans. Many employers are unaware of our rights and we are often at a vulnerable stage of our transition. The irony is that so many trans people I know are extremely clever and willing to work.
‘I was lucky that my employer was very supportive, although there was an adjustment phase which was difficult for everyone, including my new name, pronouns and getting used to my changes.’
‘The research echoes the discrimination trans people suffer in wider society’
Trans activist Paris Less, in a blog for Totaljobs, said that she didn’t find the results of the survey – particularly that 6 out of ten trans employees reported discrimination at work – as surprising – although the fact that 29% of trans people reported experiencing no discrimination was a mark of progress.
‘The research echoes the discrimination trans people suffer in wider society. Being made to feel unsafe. Questioned. Rejected. These are all things that I and many other trans people have had to deal with when all we’ve ever wanted is to live our lives and be ourselves.’
Discrimination against transgender people is illegal in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. In fact, in the survey, 44% said that they regarded the 2010 legislation as a ‘game-changer’ for trans workers.
Emma Cusdin, co-chair of the trans employee network group, Trans*formation, based in the city of London, told Gay Star News: ‘This ground-breaking report clearly shows that there is a still a long way go to for employers to create truly trans inclusive workplaces.
‘This report and International Transgender Day of Visibility should both be further wake up calls for employers to do more to stamp out discrimination and to make trans employees feel welcomed and valued.’