Trans Awareness Week sees transgender, non-binary and gender diverse people and their allies come together to raise awareness, share stories and advance advocacy for the community.
The week runs from 13th to 19th November every year, culminating in the Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20th November, which honours those trans people who have tragically died as a result of violence during the past year.
Why is this awareness week important?
Despite leaps in understanding and acceptance of trans people (see previous blog for the history of transgender rights in the UK), the community still faces high levels of discrimination and persecution.
According to a report released by Stonewall in 2018, two in five trans people (41%) and three in 10 non-binary people (31%) had experienced a hate crime or incident in the last 12 months. More than a quarter (28%) had faced domestic abuse from a partner, while a similar number (25%) had experienced homelessness.
These stats are reflected in the workplace with the TUC finding that almost half of trans employees have experienced bullying or harassment from colleagues, with 70% of these saying the discrimination had negatively impacted their mental health.
As an employer, what can I do to support trans people?
Only when people feel they can be their true authentic selves can they achieve their full potential. Here’s how you can create an inclusive environment for trans people all year round:
- Create inclusive policies
Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Inclusive policies and practices send a clear signal to everyone – not just trans employees – about the value each individual brings to your organisation. This in turn helps trans employees to feel like they belong, as well as ensuring you attract and retain the best diverse talent.
When developing these policies, it is vital to consult the trans network within your community. Ask for their input, listen to their responses and build inclusive behaviours from those with lived experience. Consulting an external expert with lived experience is another valuable way to bolster your policies.
- Policies for gender transition
Transitioning can take many forms; some may involve gender-reassignment surgery, although not all trans people will undergo medical procedures, while non-binary individuals can continually transition between various expressions of gender throughout their lives. For some, disclosing transitioning can take a lot of courage, but having a policy in place that demonstrates your awareness of the process and the support required could enable trans employees to feel they are understood and that they belong.
- Signpost to the right support channels
When engaging an employee assistance programme, consider whether it provides effective support for trans employees – that is, do they have access to support from professionals with lived experience?
Similarly, do you have robust reporting processes and channels for trans employees and their allies to report incidences of discrimination, bullying and harassment?
- Encourage correct use of pronouns
Many trans people identify on a traditional binary scale, i.e. as either male or female, so will use ‘he’ or ‘she’ pronouns. Others may identify as non-binary or genderqueer and may prefer to use pronouns such as ‘they’ or ‘them’.
Employers can enable all employees to use their preferred pronouns and encourage everyone to include their desired names and pronouns in email signatures, internal communication platforms and social media profiles.
- Offer training
Help employees develop the skills they need to become authentic trans allies – and avoid the pitfalls of performative allyship – with specific training on the issues faced by trans people. Arming colleagues with the knowledge and confidence to move out of their comfort zones, call out biased behaviour and challenge prejudice will help to cultivate a workplace culture of respect.
How can I honour Trans Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance?
While creating an inclusive environment is an important all-year round practice, here are some ideas as to how you can specifically honour this special week:
- Attend Trans Awareness Week events or remembrance ceremonies, and promote these to all employees as valuable events for all to attend.
- Invite an expert speaker to deliver training or lead initiatives to recognise trans awareness.
- Don’t forget to consult your trans community! Ask trans employees how they feel about the organisation’s approach to Trans Awareness Week and give them the opportunity to contribute if they wish to.
- Donate to a cause that champions trans rights.
If you’d like to find out more about how to make your workplace more inclusive and learn how to celebrate the whole rainbow flag all year round, Tell Jane offers a range of training programmes that can be tailored to your organisation and D&I strategy. Email email@example.com to discover how we can help.