For trade unions, Trans Day of Remembrance reminds us we must organise for trans equality
A trans person is killed globally every 1.4 days and black trans women are most heavily represented in these figures. Trans Remembrance Day is a time to remember the lives lost through hate and violence.
In the workplace, three in five (60%) of trans workers have experienced some form of discrimination, and more than half (53%) have felt the need to hide their trans status from their colleagues. Unions and employers have an important role to ensure trans workers are getting the support they need.
When supporting a trans worker it is very important to be guided by them in terms of the information to be disclosed and the pace of the transition. A transition will be a deeply emotional and stressful time. Listen, be kind, be compassionate and bargain for the individual so they can get the support they need from the employer.
From this TUC reps guide, here are 5 tips to support trans workers
1. Bargain for a workplace trans policy
An employer has a legal duty to eliminate discrimination based on gender reassignment. A good policy on trans equality should cover what this means in practice including time off for medical appointments, confidentiality, communicating to the rest of the staff and record keeping.
2. Push for equality training
Managers, union reps and HR officers will all benefit from training which covers trans equality. This proactively creates an environment which is inclusive and which means both the employer and the union rep can confidently support a member who discloses their trans status.
3. Keep things gender neutral
Many staff may never come out as trans. Some staff may not identify as male or female but may never disclose. Some staff may decide to go through the transition process. There are some things which make it easier for all these groups. This includes gender neutral uniforms, unisex toilets and avoiding documentation which asks for a “Ms, Mrs or Mr”. Often there is no real reason to ask for people to provide a suffix, nor is there always a practical reason to have gendered uniforms strictly imposed. Being flexible about uniforms, makes it a lot easier for a trans person to begin the process of transitioning.
4. Take a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment
Staff should be made aware that language and behaviour including “jokes” or “banter” which is discriminatory is inappropriate and unacceptable. This should be the case whether the person is subjected to such comments is trans or not. All staff should know that they will be supported if they make complaints about offensive language or behaviour from staff or clients.
5. Confidentiality and record keeping
Union reps should make clear to an employer that they have a legal duty to protect the trans status of an employee. This means that record keeping should be done extremely carefully. It is important that all personnel records including security passes and directories refer to the member in their acquired gender identity. Records referring to a person’s previous identity should be destroyed unless here is a very good reason for keeping them. Any reference to the person’s previous gender must be made only with the permission of the individual.