LEGAL PROTECTION AND GOOD PRACTICE FOR GENDER VARIANT EMPLOYEES

Employers should anticipate around 1% of their employees to not conform to typical gender models.  Many will not disclose their feelings owing to fear of transphobia and/or discrimination.  However, the growing understanding in society regarding gender variance and the increasing support from the law and from society means the number of employees disclosing their ‘core’ gender identity  and/or having medical treatment is growing.

Therefore it is important that employers consider the issues that need addressed in dealing with gender variant people in the workplace.  Employers should be aware of the need to show a positive, accepting environment which will ensure the recruitment and retention of their staff.  Yet research has shown that 40% of people who would like to transition feel they cannot given their work environment.  This not only harms the individual, but also the employer as it results in employees working under stress and who are unlikely to reach their working potential.  So enabling an accepting, welcoming working environment will, in fact benefit the whole company, not just the individual.

A way in which an employer could take positive action to encourage gender variant individuals to apply (if they are under-represented within their company) would be advertise inclusively to encourage applications.  Automatic preference for a person with a protective characteristic (such as gender variance) is, of course not permitted, by may be selected in preference provided he or she is as equally qualified as other applicants.

Employers should also amend their anti-discrimination policies to include gender identity and expression.

An example of an anti-discrimination policy could read as follows.  This example is from Proctor & Gamble the world’s largest consumer products maker.  “We at P&G recognize the power that comes from people of diverse backgrounds and experiences coming together around a common goal. Our policy forbids any discrimination, harassment or intimidation because of race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability or other non-job-related personal characteristic. Employees are encouraged to bring questions or concerns in this area to their management. Strict disciplinary action for violations of this policy will be taken, including termination of employment.”

GIRES GUIDLINES

Gires have produced a useful guide, please click below to download:  Legal protection and good practice for gender variant, transsexual and transgender people in the workplace – Guidelines for employers

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Department for Trade and Industry Documentation

You could also consult this document from the Department for Trade and Industry.  It is a practical guide to help employers understand how the law applies, and how to deal with issues which may arise, when a job applicant or member of staff is a transsexual person. Please click this link to download:  Creating a fairer and more equal society

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CIVIL SERVICES EMPLOYEES

Civil service employees may be interested in a:gender who are a support network for especially for transsexual, transgender and intersex staff in the civil service.

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LEGAL PROTECTION AND GOOD PRACTICE FOR GENDER VARIANT EMPLOYEES

Employers should anticipate around 1% of their employees to not conform to typical gender models.  Many will not disclose their feelings owing to fear of transphobia and/or discrimination.  However, the growing understanding in society regarding gender variance and the increasing support from the law and from society means the number of employees disclosing their ‘core’ gender identity  and/or having medical treatment is growing.

Therefore it is important that employers consider the issues that need addressed in dealing with gender variant people in the workplace.  Employers should be aware of the need to show a positive, accepting environment which will ensure the Report on Gender Discrimination in the UK by Dr. Stephen Whittle

Based on a survey in late 2000, this report describes how between 1996-99 the legal responsibility of employers to protect gender variant employees in the workplace was clearly established by several test cases and new government regulations.

The report states that the majority of respondents did not feel their transition had made them less able to do their jobs.  However, this is apart from the difficulties created for them from people at work, and many gender variant employees were subjected to:

  • Verbal abuse from other employees, as well as customers, clients or suppliers
  • Physical violence from other  employees, as well as customers, clients or suppliers
  • Discrimination in recruitment, promotion, salary and benefits amongst other factors

Many of the employees who had commenced transition had been forced to leave their jobs by their employers or because of the negative, even abusive conditions at work.

THE REPORT

This is a synopsis from the report, but you can also download a full version here.

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EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AND TRANSSEXUAL PEOPLE

Dr. Stephen Whittle, PH.D. Reader in Law
Manchester Metropolitan University

Synopsis
Gender Dysphoria is a recognised medical condition. Those who experience the condition do not feel, on the inside, to be of the gender that their bodies are perceived to be. Many of them experience such intense and prolonged discomfort that, in adulthood, they undergo a process of gender role transition in which they express their innate gender identities and, usually, obtain medical treatment to modify their bodies accordingly. Those who experience this degree of Gender Dysphoria may be regarded as having the condition termed Transsexualism.

During and after transition, many transsexual people experience discrimination in the workplace or difficulty in obtaining employment. GIRES therefore undertook research into the nature and extent of their problems and is now publishing the results in “Employment Discrimination and Transsexual People”, a report prepared by Dr Stephen Whittle.

The report describes how, during the period 1996-99, the legal responsibility of employers to protect transsexual employees against sex discrimination in the workplace was clearly established by several test cases and new government regulations.

Based on a survey conducted in late 2000, the report states that the great majority of respondents did not feel that, aside from any difficulties created for them by other people at work, their transition had, at the time or currently, made them less able to do their jobs. Yet, the report shows that many transsexual employees were still subjected to:

• verbal abuse and even physical violence perpetrated by other employees, as well as by customers, clients or suppliers
• discrimination in recruitment, promotion, remuneration, benefits and other factors

Many of the transsexual employees who had recently commenced transition had been forced to leave their jobs either by their employers or because of the resultant conditions at work.

The majority of their employers were failing to:

• include gender in the organisation’s anti-discrimination policies
• provide their colleagues with information, support and/or training on gender identity
• inform those colleagues that discrimination against the transsexual person would not be tolerated

Many of their employers were still not providing them with access to toilet facilities appropriate to their new gender roles.

These findings have major implications for policy makers. Although the law is now robust, employers’ practice in the workplace remains highly imperfect. Whilst there is a need for more rigorous enforcement of the law, that factor alone would be insufficient to achieve the changes in attitudes that trans people encounter daily at work, among their fellow workers as well as customers, clients and suppliers. Employers should be persuaded to educate all the people that the trans person encounters at work.

The need for action is mounting. The data gathered in the 2000 survey shows a sharp increase in the number of people commencing transition. The rapidly rising numbers of cases being referred to the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital and of applications for membership of two major voluntary support organisations, The Gender Trust and FTM Network, confirm the upward trend.

Guidelines for Gender Transition in the Workplace

A useful article on such guidelines can be found here.  It is from an American Human Rights Campaign website, but may be of use for consultation.

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