TUC calls on employers to stop discriminating against trans people at work

November 27, 2009

tuc_logoThis last week has been unexpectedly difficult for me. From the whirlpool of emotions I felt around Friday’s Transgender Day Of Remembrance (link here) and the London memorial event on Saturday (link here); through my deep despondency on hearing the news of the violent oppression of members of the Feminist Fightback group by other so-called feminists at the Reclaim The Night march only hours after the TDOR vigil (link here); to my anger about the escalating violence my community endures at the hands of cis people, I’ve been so preoccupied with simply getting through the day without feeling overwhelmed by demoralisation that this press release (link here) from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) completely passed me by.

Although it seems to be little more than an update of last year’s message (link here), nevertheless it does actually appear to signal a genuine attempt to understand the issues we face in the workplace (assuming we have a job, of course), and to assist in ending the discriminations heaped on us by employers and co-workers alike. How – if – it plays out in real life and how much effect – if any – it will actually have, remains to be seen, of course.

In Britain the trans community continues to face violent physical attacks, alongside prejudice and discrimination in communities and at work. Just last month the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published Trans Research Review demonstrating the continued prejudice and discrimination faced by trans people in Britain. The TUC welcomes the Commission’s commitment to this issue and the guidance they will give public bodies to promote equality for trans people.

Unfortunately, it seems that the TUC’s support for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) may actually be misplaced. Last Thursday – the day before the Transgender Day Of Remembrance – ECHR announced the appointment of its new Commissioners for all the strands for which it’s responsible – except in the area of transgender issues (link here).


TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘Discrimination and hatred are part of the daily lives of far too many trans people in Britain, and employers need to make sure all their employees are working in safe environments, free from transphobia, violence and prejudice.’

‘Prejudice starts at school, and in its work to promote LGBT equality in education, the TUC has learnt that bullying on grounds of gender identity remains largely unrecognised. This can lead all too easily to the violence that trans people can face on the streets, and challenging the roots of such prejudice is long overdue.’

‘If Britain is to be a truly equal and inclusive society we need to understand the issues facing trans people, and develop practical steps to end discrimination in our workplaces and beyond.’

Fine words, and I sincerely hope that the TUC follows through on this statement of intent but, given the ways in which trans people have been let down by the EHRC – the government’s own agency for these matters – then I think this sense of scepticism I feel is unlikely to dissipate without proof of their commitment. The time for talking is over and I don’t believe I’m the only trans woman who wants to see some results.

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