Charities and internal investigations
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 13 – 19 May 2019. The theme this year is body image: how we think and feel about our bodies. For transgender people in the workplace, body image is likely to be a significant consideration, particularly for those who are actively undergoing the mentally and physically difficult process of changing their outward image from one gender to another, whilst in employment.
It can be really challenging for employers who want to provide as benign assistance as possible for those employees undergoing this process, to know what exactly they should do to help, so in this article, we provide some practical guidance on the issues employers might face and how they can seek to support trans employees in the workplace and promote better inclusion and understanding amongst staff.
In 2016, Totaljobs conducted a survey of trans workers from different industries across the UK. The results suggest that there is reason to be hopeful about the future of transgender issues in the business world, as 50% of those surveyed said that they had received positive reactions to their transitions.
This rising general acceptance and awareness is supported by a legislative framework which provides trans people with various rights, including protection against discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, and the ability to change legal gender under the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Additionally, high value judgments including Miss A de Souza E Souza v Primark Stores Ltd, in which Primark was ordered to pay the claimant nearly £50,000 after it was found to have discriminated against her in relation to her gender reassignment, have helped to raise the profile of transgender issues in the workplace and elevate awareness amongst employers of the risks of discrimination.
However, notwithstanding the evidence of increased awareness and a general willingness to change attitude, Totaljobs’ survey also found that 60% of the participants had experienced discrimination in the workplace relating to their gender identity. Furthermore, more than 53% of the participants said that they had felt the need to hide their trans status from colleagues at some time during their careers.
Whilst some of the treatment suffered by trans people in the workplace are “shocking” acts of direct discrimination, as in the Primark case, Jane Fae, transgender activist, suggests that some discrimination is born out of over-cautious employers not having the right information or training in order to handle situations delicately and inoffensively. She cites the example of employers who think they are solving the “age old issue of toilet facilities” by telling trans staff to use the disabled toilet, rather than the male or female specific facilities, which often actually results in making trans employees feel more marginalised and excluded.
In August 2017, The Institute for Employment Studies’ (IES) produced a research paper, “Supporting trans employees in the workplace”, which highlighted some further key practical problems faced by employers. These include:
Each of these issues could have a serious impact on a trans person’s body image and mental well-being, as well as give rise to possible claims of discrimination and harassment, even against the most well-intentioned employers.
With this in mind, below is a list of practical tips which employers should consider in order to help create a more inclusive workplace and to overcome some of the potential pitfalls above.
IES’s research found that trans experiences and journeys are diverse. Employers would therefore benefit from addressing concerns and anxieties individually, and focusing on openness and communication with the employee(s) concerned.
These policies should provide guidance on how to deal with staff who are transitioning or have transitioned, but which also emphasise the flexible and individual approach that will be taken to resolve any issues. The policy should also address issues of confidentiality and management of data so that there is no accidental or non-consensual disclosure of an employee’s previous identity documents.
Capitalise on high quality diversity and inclusion training and information from expert third parties and other resources, including charities and online information.
Allow staff to use facilities that align best with their gender identity, or install gender-neutral facilities.
Look out for any potential negative implications for trans staff dress codes or uniform policies could have. Be prepared to discuss any proposals trans staff may make in relation to how they wish to present themselves. Consider implementing gender neutral uniforms.
This could be something such as a period away from client-facing roles, if the employee suggests this as a way forward during their transition period.
The employee should be in control of whether or not their trans status is disclosed.
Discuss with the employee what they would like to do with their website photograph during and after their transition period.
Ensure that references to the trans community are included in such policies, in the same way that any member of the LGBTQ community might be.
When I told some of my friends I was writing a piece about drag activism, their reaction was almost unanimous…
"Oh, but, is there much to say?"
That's when I realised that drag queens, for many, are more synonymous with big hair and lip-syncing pop hits rather than political consciousness and activism. You can certainly understand the reason for this - we have been totally spoiled in recent years with the explosion of Ru Paul’s Drag Race around the world - the make-up, talents and confidence being a feast for the eyes (and the soul). But we cannot minimise the political importance of Mama Ru’s creation. Who could forget numbers such as “Shady Politics”; the discussions of gay conversion therapy while applying make-up; and Bob the Drag Queen describing his arrest during a 2011 marriage equality protest? Not to mention Nancy Pelosi sashaying into the All Stars season…
Coming out is an extremely personal journey and will be unique to each person. It takes a lot of courage to come out and a person may have to repeatedly do this in their personal and professional lives. Statistics show that 46% of people who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual and 47% of people who identify as trans feel comfortable to discuss their orientation or gender identity.
How can you put the spotlight on intersectionality to remind others that, even within the LGBTQ+ community, not everyone is treated equal?
Are you proud of who you are, your journey and the person that you’ve become? Do you truly wear your heart on your sleeve? For some, being open and honest about who we are (which includes our gender identity or sexuality) does not come easily and can be extremely hard. It can be even tougher at work, and for those that hide their true self, the energy expenditure is endless. That survival cost of energy makes you less productive, or even worse still, it has a detrimental impact on your mental and physical health.
I am a trans woman who has recently embarked on her transition. Having only taken my first steps on this journey, I am acutely aware when writing this that I have much to learn about myself, about being trans, and about the diverse LGBTQ+ family that I now find myself part of. However, there is one theme that I feel is important to discuss as we celebrate Pride in 2021.
Following on from my colleague Sameena Munir’s blog ‘’pray the gay away: cull conversion therapy worldwide’’, the issue of gay conversion therapy dominates contemporary conversations surrounding LGBT politics and legislation in the UK, but the Government has failed to deliver on its promise to ban it.
For two weeks during Pride month, Kingsley Napley are publishing a series of blogs to celebrate Pride and highlight LGBTQ+ issues from home and abroad.
It’s been 9 years since R&B artist Frank Ocean headed off rumours about his particular pronoun usage in the album Channel Orange by posting on Tumblr that his first love had been a man. Since then, the momentum for the openness and success of queer artists has continued to gather pace, and LGBTQ+ representation in the arts and mainstream media is as wide as it has ever been. This rise has however raised important questions about pigeonholing queer artists, and perhaps most interestingly whether they must always shoulder the responsibility of ‘pushing the agenda’.
In February this year, I attended a virtual talk held by the InterLaw Diversity Forum for LGBT+ History Month. The speakers featured individuals working in the legal sector and each discussed their experience of coming out as trans or non-binary at work. It feels an apt lesson given this year’s Pride theme: Visibility, Unity and Equality.
In January 2020, I was fortunate enough to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. As far as I know, I am the first partner at Kingsley Napley (although certainly not the first employee) who has a baby who is lucky enough to have two mums. News of my pregnancy was met with overwhelming support from my colleagues. That support continues to this very day, and my wife and I remain truly grateful for the kindness that has been shown to us. However, since falling pregnant I have learnt that not all workplaces are as supportive to same-sex parents as mine. The concept of two mums or two dads starting a family is something that some people still struggle to get their heads around. So this year, for our KN Pride blog series, I have decided to explain the questions, that speaking from my own experience, it is not helpful to say to same-sex parents.
Tomorrow, global organisations across the world are celebrating Global Pride, and I wanted to write to say how much it means to us at Kingsley Napley to celebrate Pride and to support our LGBTQ colleagues.
On sitting down to write this blog, I was a little embarrassed. When you actually take the time to think about drafting legal documents in a way that is gender neutral, it seems to me that the question isn’t why do this, but why not?
In 2012 we formed an LGBTQ* & Allies network at Kingsley Napley (KN). I’m ashamed to say that the impetus to form this network came not from within, but from Scott, a new joiner who upon his arrival was surprised, and critical (rightly so) to find that no such network existed at KN.
The UK spouse visa has been the subject of frequent criticism and has rarely been out of the news since the rules surrounding it were completely changed in 2012. This is predominantly as a result of the stringent and often exclusionary financial requirements imposed. However, when you take a look at the basic relationship requirements imposed by this route, it is exclusionary in an unexpectedly discriminatory way.
The importance of kindness and mental health is always high on the agenda at Kingsley Napley, and we embrace the annual Mental Health Awareness Week as an opportunity to raise awareness among our people about the tools and channels available to support their mental health and wellbeing.
We are using this week to support #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and specifically the theme of kindness at Kingsley Napley. As a black woman, mental health is a topic that has long both interested and troubled me. Specifically, why is mental health still reported to be taboo within ethnic communities?
Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is “kindness”. In this blog, Senior Partner Stephen Parkinson reflects on the theme and the importance of kindness.
This Sunday marks International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. On this day, over 130 countries around the world draw attention to the various forms of discrimination and violence that the LGBTQ community continue to experience. It serves as a reminder each year of the work which is still needed to achieve LGBTQ equality. David Sleight, a Partner and ally, at Kingsley Napley shares his experience below.
Now is a more important time than ever to be a visible ally to LGBTQ people in the workplace. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation continues to take place, often with disastrous ramifications for individuals and businesses.
The current government lockdown is making everyone aware of their living arrangements. Relationships are being put under new pressures and the current emotional and financial impact of the virus may be causing additional stresses in a relationship. It is a sensible time to make sure you understand how you own your property and the implications of such ownership.
There are countless instances of LGBT+ individuals being stigmatised and discriminated against throughout history, including in criminal law. In particular, a number of sexual acts between men have historically been criminalised. This homophobic legislation was compounded by an insidious approach to investigations, which targeted men who were believed to be gay, leading to a large number of men being criminalised, with all of the consequences that a conviction brings, for behaviour that should never have been illegal in the first place.
On the eve of the new decade, 31 December 2019, the first mixed-sex couples officially entered into civil partnerships, granting them the same legal protections as in marriage.
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