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Guidelines to help trans people at work


Transgender Day of Remembrance, 20 November 2016, TUC, guildlines, trans people in the workplace, end discriminationTUC publishes new guide for union reps to support trans people at work.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is held every year on 20 November and is when transgender people and their allies remember trans people who have lost their lives in the face of ignorance, oppression and violence.

The event is held in November to honour Rita Hester, whose murder on 28 November 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder – like most anti-transgender murder cases – has yet to be solved.

One trans person is killed every 1.4 days internationally. There were 2,016 reported killings of trans people in 65 countries worldwide between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2015, more than 100 of them were in Europe.

On the Transgender Day of Remembrance this year the TUC published new guidance for union reps on how to better support trans people in the workplace, after a study found that transgender people are at risk of discrimination at work in the UK.

A survey carried out by totaljobs for the International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV) on 31 March showed that three in five (60 per cent) of trans workers have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace, 38 per cent from colleagues; 25 per cent from management; and 29 per cent during a job interview; and that more than half (53 per cent) have felt the need to hide their trans status from their colleagues.

The TUC’s new guidance, Transforming the Workplace, gives union reps the tools they need to ensure that workplaces are a supportive environment for trans people.

The TUC suggest that union reps:

Review current equal opportunities and bullying and harassment policies to make sure that they promote trans equality;

Check other policies and procedures – such as recruitment policies, recordkeeping and dress codes – to make sure that they do not discriminate against trans people;

Encourage employers to include trans issues in induction training;

Make it clear that anti-trans behaviour or comments are unacceptable in the workplace;

Negotiate specific policies to support employees who transition; and

Support trans members experiencing problems at work, especially during transition.

Debbie’s story shows how union reps can be effective.

A secondary school teacher who had been in the same school for nine years before coming out as a trans woman, Debbie told the school when she was going start the process of transitioning – that is, living in her acquired gender.

The school got advice from an expert and Debbie went to her union, NASUWT.

“The union was really helpful and supportive, explaining the practical things they could do as well as the legal issues,” Debbie explained.

“My union was involved in all the discussions which followed including about time off for medical appointments and when to tell parents and pupils. The process of telling colleagues, children and their parents was done at my pace and the response was overwhelmingly positive.”

“Following my transition, I continued to teach the same classes and there was no disruption to the life of the school. Having an open and constructive dialogue between my union and employer benefitted everyone including me and the school.”

You can watch Debbie’s story on YouTube.

The TUC is asking employers to:

Work with their unions to make sure that workplaces have policies in place to support and protect trans members of staff;

Run trans awareness sessions for staff;

Adopt a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment, including stopping jokes or “banter” about trans issues; and

Consider appointing lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans champions in the workplace to support LGBT employees.

And the TUC continues to demand the government ensure all working people have access to justice by scrapping the employment tribunal fees which prevent many workers taking discrimination claims to court.

The TUC’s General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Despite changes in the law and attitudes, far too many trans people still face discrimination at work.

“Union reps can make a real difference to trans colleagues’ experiences at work, supporting them through transition and helping make sure workplaces provide a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.”

To read ‘Transforming the Workplace’, click here.

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