Procter & Gamble bars trans discrimination

May 4, 2009

Procter & Gamble logoVia the Washington Blade:

Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer products maker, has amended its anti-discrimination policy to include gender identity and expression.

The policy was recently amended to read: “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.

Although I wonder why it’s taken the company so long to make this addition – and why now? – the underlying issue is that there should be a need for trans specific policies.

In a perfect world, trans people wouldn’t need this sort of ‘positive discrimination’ because we wouldn’t be discriminated against in the first place. And, of course, to benefit from the protections so enshrined in (yet not always enforced by) such policies, we need to ‘out’ ourselves as being trans – and, undoubtedly, be able to ‘prove it’ to the employers too. In turn, that burden of proof will undoubtedly be a requirement for verifiable medical documentation, which presumes that all trans people are undergoing medically sanctioned transitions.

But this is not a perfect world and trans people are routinely discriminated against, marginalised and excluded from countless aspects of this overwhelmingly cis people’s society. Until cis people accept us for the human beings we are, without feeling the need to tokenise, exoticise and objectify us, then such policies will continue to be needed.

Not that such policies will even guarantee our protection, but given the huge difficulties that many trans people face in simply obtaining employment, let alone keeping it, then these few crumbs are all the (cold) comfort that many of us have.

So, while I am heartened to see some employers at least acknowledging our existence, the fact that we are still positioned as some kind of endangered species in need of paternalistic levels of care and concern, only underlines that it is cis society’s attitudes that need to evolve.

We are not this week’s little problem to be solved by bleeding heart cis liberals in the HR department – the problem is that, by othering us in this way, cis society yet again absolves itself from doing the work necessary to develop a mindset which is truly inclusive, accepting and non-discriminatory. These policies are only needed because cis people’s ignorance, bigotry and hostility make these limited protections necessary.

Trans people are not the problem: cis people are.


3 Responses to “Procter & Gamble bars trans discrimination”

  1. Lucy Says:

    Very well put. If cis people were not the problem, we would not need protection from them. We would not need to announce when we began transitions. We would not be judged on our presentations. We would be accepted as equals and as sane as anyone else.

  2. HelenGB Says:

    I imagine most companies only deal with this when confronted with it. It’s easy ot have an LGB policy cos it looks good and they almost never have to do anything about it. But the “T” is different, they have to amend records, they have to ensure people are briefed, they have to deal with people’s reactions and, most of all, they have to worry how their company’s image looks to the Daily Mail.

    I know this cos when I transitioned I was made very aware that my company was vulnerable to bad publicity and had an assigned HR person to specifically ensure things could be managed if the DM or similar found out and wanted to make it an issue.

    And they don’t think about this stuff until it happens. That’s when a policy appears. So, my guess is that somebody employed by P&G has recently embarked on the path and would probably appreciate it if we didn’t draw any further attention to it.

  3. Donna Says:

    I hope more businesses follow suit, but like you I am wondering, why now? That’s sad that you can’t just assume they are doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

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