by Chelsea Finnie
This year's Transgender Awareness Week begins on the 13th and runs through to the 19th of November, leading up to the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The week is a celebration of transgender people and their lives, as well as an opportunity for them to share their stories and educate others. In this blog post, I would like to share part of my story to give some insight into my experience.
I'm a transgender person (my pronouns are she/her) and I've been working in this industry since I was 18. I transitioned almost 6 years ago whilst at a different company, and it was probably the scariest thing I've ever done. Not many workplaces have policies around transgender people and transitioning, and the Human Rights Act doesn't explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, so there is a lot of fear for transgender people around being mistreated by employers or even losing their jobs. Luckily for me, I had a decent amount of support from my managers and colleagues, and possibly a bit of good timing on my side, considering I did this over the New Year's break while most people in the office were away.
It wasn't all smooth sailing though, and there were some bumps along the way.
In that job I was pulled aside by my manager because some people complained to HR that they found it confronting that I was using the women's bathroom. (For context on this, most of the time I would use the single occupancy gender-neutral bathroom, only using the women's when that option was unavailable because I wanted to avoid confrontation myself). These complaints didn't sit right with me and I felt like the company were being unsupportive in this area by taking the other side. So, I took it straight back to HR and convinced them that me using the women's bathroom was not an issue, and anyone uncomfortable with that could use a bathroom in a different part of the building.
Apart from that experience, I've been fortunate enough not to have any further issues in other jobs. This could be due to me living my life not being visibly transgender, which doesn't speak well of the industry when my treatment has been based on people not knowing I am transgender. The exception to this so far (in my experience) has been Catalyst. After I started working here, I realised that it was a safe enough and welcoming place that I could come out, express who I truly am, and share my story. I imagine there are other welcoming places to work, and I hope that transgender people, wherever they are, are free to be who they are and express themselves.
One of the things I find people have trouble with is how to deal with misgendering, Here is a blog we shared that can help you with misgendering.
Thanks for reading. Making an effort to learn makes a big difference and helps everyone to feel included.