Transgender: Is There Still Fear in The Workplace?

Transgenderism is being portrayed more widely and sympathetically in the media than ever before. One only has to look at Bruce Jenner or Chelsea Manning to see that the media and public focus more on their actions than their gender. But have our workplace attitudes caught up and is a more collaborative approach needed from employee and employer?

Campaign Against Discrimination
Bernard Reed, co­-founder of the Gender, Identity, Research and Education Society (GIRES) explains that around one in 100 people experience gender variance and the number who are willing to reveal this is growing at 20% a year. Among those under 19, the number is growing at 50% per annum.

In the UK we spend on average more than 10.2 years of our lives at work. If you’re suffering from discrimination, 10 years can feel like a lifetime. Pace, an LGBT mental health charity, reported that 48% of transgender people under the age of 26 have attempted suicide. This figure is startling considering the figure is 6% for all adults under 26.

The 2010 Equality Act has helped tackle discrimination in the workplace against transgender people. “It’s reducing, at least anecdotally, especially in larger organizations. However, it still occurs too frequently. Especially as there’s more guidance around now for employers on how to support those identifying as transgender.”

GIRES publishes a handbook for employers and employees, which gives pointers to businesses on how they can develop work policy to prevent discrimination at work. The booklet suggests that businesses create a strong LGBT group, and that managers update the workplace absence management policy to ensure that those who transition can take time off to do so.


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