Adequate transgender employee support at work is critical. Too often, transgender people are excluded, harassed and treated unequally at work. At Aspiring to Include, we want to help change this. We want to work on achieving change for transgender employees across the U.K. This page aims to provide help, guidance and support for those impacted by these issues.
There is a range of identities under the umbrella term of “transgender”, including trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming, agender, genderqueer, bigender, and gender-fluid people. All of these terms essentially mean that you do not identify as the sex attributed to you at birth. You do not need to have had gender reassignment surgeries to be considered transgender. It is about your gender presentation rather than your biological sex.
Being transgender or going through a period of gender transitioning can be very challenging in the workplace and many trans people suffer from discrimination and poor treatment there too. There are many reasons why these negative situations can arise, including lack of education, failure of companies to adhere to equality law, stereotypes, culture, and transphobia.
We are here to remind you that it is your legal right to express yourself and live in a way that genuinely reflects who you are and how you feel. Gender reassignment (which doesn’t have to mean surgical reassignment, simply a change in gender presentation) is classed as a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act, which means you are protected against mistreatment and discrimination by the U.K. law.
It is so important that you know your rights in the workplace. You deserve to be treaty fairly and equally and if that isn’t happening, you need to know how to handle it and get the support you need.
Tips for Transgender Employees
At Aspiring to Include, we want to support transgender people in employment and we want to bridge the gap between diverse job seekers and accessible employment. On this page, we want to talk about some ways in which you can be supported in work as a transgender person.
Speak to People that You Trust
Going through a transition in the workplace or entering the workplace as someone transgender is not always easy, unfortunately. Due to the discrimination and harassment that trans people face across the world, it is not unusual to feel anxious about being in a new workplace.
One of the best things you can do is speak to people that you can trust. You can talk to people within the workplace itself if you find people there who you can trust. Good options include HR reps or a line manager, but you can also outsource your support. Many organizations and charities are dedicated to supporting the needs of transgender people. You can search for local support through Trans Unite’s search engine, here.
You can also speak to your friends, family, and any partners about how you are feeling at work. Going things alone is much more difficult than reaching out for the support available all around you. Having emotional support throughout a difficult transition will always make things better. Don’t forget to reach out and start the conversation.
If you currently going through a gender transition or you are about to, you will need to think ahead about the coming months. You will probably need to take some time off work so that you can deal with any physical, mental and emotional symptoms that are common during a transition. Don’t be afraid to do so.
It is better to put the support into place that you will need in advance rather than wait until the last minute. Preparation is key to making a transition go as smoothly as possible.
Remember that your employer cannot treat you any differently if you are absent from work due to reasons to do with gender reassignment. They cannot pay you differently than they would for an absence due to sickness etc. You are entitled to time off when you need it so make sure that you take it.
Decide How Much You Want to Share
It is entirely up to you how much you feel comfortable sharing with others about your transitioning or gender identity. Perhaps you transitioned a long time ago and didn’t want to share details of it anymore. Perhaps you feel comfortable changing your pronouns, but you don’t want to discuss any hormonal treatments or surgery. How much you share is entirely your choice and no one is entitled to any information that you don’t want to share.
Unless it is relevant to official documentation or essential tasks of the job, your employer cannot ask you questions about your gender or gender identity. It is your right to have information that you wish to remain confidential. If you need to know whether the information you are being asked is essential or not, you can consult Citizen’s Advice or call the Equality Advisory Support Service discrimination helpline.
Reach Out For Mental Health Support
Going through a gender transition can be extremely mentally challenging. Especially while working or living as a transgender person in an unwelcoming environment. You might want to look into what mental health support is available to ease some of this burden.
Talking to your employer first, if you feel comfortable, is always a good idea. There are very often ways that they can give you free access to certain mental health support and counselling schemes.
You can also speak to your local GP for signposting and referral to the right services. The right support is definitely out there, all you have to do is look in the right places.
There are ways in which people around you can ease your journey, even if it isn’t an easy one. Every transgender person should feel safe and included at work.
We want to be part of the change that makes that happen.
Find the Right Job for You
Finding the right job can sometimes be the best solution for problems you are having as a trans person at work. If you want to find accessible jobs posted by inclusive employers, you can do so by searching our inclusive job board.
You can also find out more about your employment rights with our expert guides and resources at Aspiring to Include.