Transgender Day of Visibility: Why we all need a positive trans and gender-diverse work culture

Transgender Day of Visibility: Why we all need a positive trans and gender-diverse work culture

Imagine finding your dream job. You have all the right skills – you’re committed, a supportive colleague, have an excellent work experience and professional record.

How would you feel if all the wonderful qualities and skills you could bring to a role were discounted because you identify as transgender?

Forget that ‘dream job’.

If you do identify as trans, you know that ANY job you apply for is generally an exercise in anxiety, frustration and hopelessness. There are SO many hurdles you have to consider, including:

  • Your police check will flag that you are trans, because it will identify your birth gender and name
  • Your qualifications may look like they belong to someone else unless you decide to immediately ‘out’ yourself in your job application letter, and
  • Depending on where you are in your transition, whether you will decide to present yourself as your affirmed gender.

There will be many reasons why you receive so many rejection letters or didn’t get beyond interview stage. But you KNOW that some of them will be because you are perceived as too challenging to ‘fit’ into the ‘Company X’ culture. Research confirms that the transgender unemployment rate is three times higher than the national average.

Lack of support and understanding from colleagues

And, although it’s safer to transition while you’re already working because you have legal protection from discrimination laws, that doesn’t forgive the lack of support and understanding from colleagues. This is why many trans people choose to leave their jobs and make a new start.

Discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide

The Transgender flag is 5 horizontal stripes of pale blue, pink, white, pink and pale blue.

The Trans-gender flag

Sunday, 31 March is Transgender Day of Visibility, a day dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide.

Beyond Blue, Curtin University and the Western Australian Centre for Health surveyed more than 900 transgender individuals. Findings showed, “participants had difficulty securing employment, and some reported losing their job after announcing their intention to transition, or during the transition process. Some participants resigned from work because their peers made life unbearable for them.”

This is an example of the daily reality for our transgender colleagues:

“Many years ago (before I came to Uniting), I was ‘out’ as a trans person. I repeatedly had a colleague call me by my birth name and call me ‘she’ as she thought it was very amusing. I am commonly in receipt of very personal questions about my body, or asked to show images of myself prior to transition.”

As part of transgender day of visibility, Uniting acknowledges the greatest issue for many trans people is not necessarily one of visibility and awareness, but rather the lack of access to employment and visible inclusion throughout the process.

How Uniting is supporting our transgender applicants and employees

Uniting is an inclusive employer with many trans and gender-diverse staff. Uniting supports our transgender employees through:

  • Uniting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) strategy
  • Uniting Gender Transitioning in the Workplace procedure
  • All position descriptions include (LGBTI) responsibilities
  • Trans and gender-diverse mentor program for staff
  • Rainbow badges and other symbols in services
  • LGBTI information sheets (external and internal).

Uniting is also an AWEI gold employer and winner of a trans and gender-diverse award.

These commitments all contribute to a number of improvements as Uniting continues to review our recruitment processes through the eyes of the trans and gender-diverse communities.

Welcoming you exactly as you are

Another Uniting trans colleague shares:

“Since joining Uniting late last year, I’ve been amazed by the level of support that I’ve been shown in comparison to some of my previous workplaces. Being able to finally bring my whole self to work each day has made such a huge difference not only to my levels of happiness, health and wellbeing, but to my productivity levels as well. Knowing that I’ve got the complete support of my wonderful supervisor and team has truly been life-changing for me, and I feel so grateful for it.”

This feedback should be representative to everyone’s experience, and we can all contribute to creating an inclusive and supportive culture.

Wear your LGBTI badge and show your support

Claire Allen, LGBTI Project Officer comments, “We celebrate our diversity and welcome all people whatever your ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, intersex variation or gender identity.

“We can do more to truly show trans and gender-diverse applicants and colleagues are welcome at Uniting. We ask everyone to always wear a rainbow badge and show their support for our transgender and LGBTI colleagues.”

More information

If you have any questions about Transgender Day of Visibility, or you would like to know how to create a company policy that supports gender transitioning, please contact Claire Allen, LGBTI Project Officer, on 0427 782 697.

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