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What government, employers and reps can do to challenge transphobia at work

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Last week, Stonewall released a state of the nation assessment looking trans and gender non-binary peoples’ experiences in today’s Britain.

The findings highlight high levels of hate crime, violence and discrimination in almost every setting, from accessing public services to using public spaces, in education, and at work.

The report also found that trans and gender non-binary people often modify their behaviour to reduce the number of negative incidents they experience in everyday life.

For example, two in five trans people (40 per cent) adjust the way they dress because they fear discrimination or harassment, with this number increasing significantly to half of non-binary people (52 per cent).

The report’s findings are very similar to our own 2017 report ‘The Cost of Being Out at Work’, which found:

  • Nearly half of trans people (48%) have experienced bullying or harassment at work
  • Almost a third (30%) of trans respondents have had their trans status disclosed against their will.
  • Seven in 10 trans respondents, saying that their experience of workplace harassment or discrimination had a negative effect on their mental health.
  • Almost 15% of LGBT+ respondents who experienced discrimination at work said that this came from a client or patient.

Unfortunately, with statistics as stark as these, it is often difficult to think, practically about how, when and where we can make a difference.

However, everyone can make a difference. For example, making a conscious effort to use the right pronouns and name when talking to a trans person or by learning more (and then challenging) the different forms of trans discrimination even individual action can have real impact.

And as there are steps individuals can take there are also steps the government and employers should take to address transphobia. We set them out in our guidance Transforming the Workplace and report The Cost of Being out at Work. The steps include:

  • Putting a legal duty on employers to protect workers from third party harassment.
  • Ensuring that equality policies are trans and gender non-binary inclusive and have a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination.

Trade unions also have a big role to play in ensuring trans discrimination is addressed.  Representatives can, among other things:

  • negotiate equality policies aimed at ending discrimination against trans people in the workplace;
  • negotiate specific agreements on supporting any employee who is transitioning;
  • make it clear anti-trans behaviour or comments are unacceptable in the workplace.

It’s times like this when it’s important that everyone realises the role they can play in ending transphobia. Tackling trans discrimination is a trade union issue.