Transgender Day of Visibility: How HR and leaders can play their partby
For Trans Day of Visibility 2022, activist and DEI professional Leng Montgomery explores this year’s theme and what HR professionals and leaders must do to ensure that transgender rights are a top priority.
International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV, Trans Day of Visibility) is recognised on March 31st and is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to society.
Trans Day of Visibility has become a feature of inclusion calendars and internal and external communications. Employee resource groups and D&I teams have shared ownership for this day.
In some organisations, it has prompted March to be dedicated to gender and gender identity, given that International Women’s Day is nearer the beginning of March and Trans Day of Visibility is at the end of the month.
The day is in place to celebrate and amplify the voices of people who are trans, non-binary and/or gender non-conforming and can be a helpful moment to share back policies and processes in place that the company is doing or what has changed in order to support people and raise awareness.
Trans Day of Visibility in the workplace
There is still a lot to do in the workplace. I am pleased to see that there has been a shift in terms of policies and processes that can support someone trans or non-binary.
This can look like:
- Awareness or training for managers and colleagues
- Systems that have categories that recognise people’s gender identities
- Application processes that will ask around pronouns and include titles such as ‘Mx’
- Share information around commitment to being an inclusive workplace that will mention gender identity and gender expression
Some will also include this in their anti-harassment and bullying policies and have enhanced leave that will include supporting those who require time off for transition if needing medical support.
The really passionate trans-inclusive companies will celebrate their trans employees (and will have them), raise awareness on the struggles they face and advocate for more protected rights for them in a bid to reform society, not just within the workplace.
They also share posts celebrating colleagues that are trans and non-binary as well as the allies in the organisation, and any activity relating to the trans community.
The ‘I am Enough’ campaign recognises how trans and non-binary people are often under pressure to be 'more' than they are
I AM ENOUGH
This year’s theme is #IAMENOUGH and is something that resonates with me personally. The aims of the ‘I am Enough’ campaign are as follows:
Affirmation and empowerment: for trans people, a message of strength, resilience and community. The aim of the campaign is to provide a message that ties together the following themes:
- Acceptance of individuals in their chosen gender, just the way they are without the need for change/treatment/qualifying factors
- Promotion of self-deceleration of gender identity
- Visibility of non-binary identities
Awareness raising and allyship: for non-trans/cis people to be able to stand up and show solidarity and support for their trans family, friends and colleagues.
The ‘I am Enough’ campaign recognises how trans and non-binary people are often under pressure to be 'more' than they are. I started transitioning 13 years ago and there is still quite a lot that needs to happen. We still need to promote awareness and push for actions needed to show progress and bring equality and equity for the trans community.
The barriers I have encountered have generally been based on a lack of understanding and awareness, and arise from bias – whether conscious or unconscious.
As more organisations have started to have better policies and processes for supporting transition in the workplace, there are other forms of discrimination that many don’t feel equipped to know how to identify or how to tackle effectively.
Training is an area that is needed in a lot of cases and a more proactive approach would be beneficial. This training isn’t just for line managers but also for HR – especially when escalations will be going to an HR department.
Transphobia and hostility can be presented in different ways and it’s critical that it’s identified otherwise a workplace isn’t fulfilling its duty to promote the inclusion it often likes to say it does or aspires towards.
I’ve encountered many inappropriate situations and have been encouraged to take it on the chin or have been told “that’s what normal people think”. On a couple of occasions, it made me consider whether or not I feel safe or want to be in a company that has taken that approach and also not wanted to actively support me.
Others have also followed suit and it’s also important that everyone feels safe and protected from bullying and harassment.
65% of trans people would hide their identity at work and 33% had experienced discrimination in job interviews and applications
Workplace abuse against trans employees
In 2018, Stonewall research showed that 12% of trans people in the UK had experienced physical assault by colleagues and customers in that last year.
Total Jobs in 2021 had a Trans Employee Experiences survey which showed 65% of trans people would hide their identity at work and 33% had experienced discrimination in job interviews and applications.
To build this awareness, it’s important that there is a proactive stance taken. But it must start with believing and building up an understanding of discrimination that trans and non-binary people face.
Top Tips for trans awareness and inclusion:
- Ensure there are policies and processes that are inclusive to Trans and Non-Binary colleagues
- Proactively ensure that there are processes and training that can provide awareness and clarity for managers as to what they can do to support someone, and to access resources with relevant terminology and information that can promote better understanding and knowledge
- Ensure there are specialised trainings, learning bursts and awareness for HR so they will know how to support and intervene with any escalation or grievances that are raised in relation to Transphobic bullying and harassment and clear understanding around what it is and how to identify it.
- Ensure there are inclusive fields in all systems throughout all areas of employee life cycle and that extends to benefits channels too – so make sure 3rd party suppliers are informed and being inclusive too.
- Conduct colleague listening and make sure Trans and Non-Binary voices are being included in your conversations
- Celebrate awareness days such as Trans Day of Visibility and make sure that company vision and values will be inclusive to Trans and Non-Binary people that will be part of your workforce – past, present and future.
Looking for further reading? Transgender inclusion at work and protected beliefs in the workplace
Senior Manager of Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Burberry.
Previously the senior diversity, equity and inclusion consultant at Charlotte Sweeney Associates Ltd, diversity and inclusion leader, and TEDx speaker.