It is not an easy time to be trans in the workplace.
Earlier this year, research from YouGov and Totaljobs found that 43% of trans employees have quit a job because their work environment was unwelcoming. Over half (54%) of employees said their employers don’t support trans employees through training and only 36% of workplaces have dedicated anti-trans discrimination policies. Nearly two thirds (65%) of respondents said they’ve had to hide their trans status at work. Common forms of bullying or insults include 'deadnaming' (where someone is consciously called by a former name) or having to suffer colleagues deliberately misusing pronouns.
Under the Equality Act 2010, 'sex' and 'gender reassignment' are protected characteristics, meaning that you should be protected from direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation based on either characteristic. People who are genderqueer, gender fluid or non-binary (identities which fall under the 'trans' umbrella) are now also protected. In September last year, a landmark ruling led to the recognition of gender fluid and non-binary identities within the gender reassignment protected characteristic.
However the reality is that we are living in a time when discrimination against trans and non-binary people is reaching fever pitch both in and outside the workplace. The 2020 report on transphobic hate crime from Galop, the LGBTQ+ anti-violence charity, found that four in five respondents had experienced a form of transphobic hate crime, while six in 10 respondents had experienced transphobia online and three in 10 had experienced transphobia at work. It doesn't help that moves towards better diversity and inclusion, such as the inclusion of pronouns in email signatures or better education around LGBTQ+ issues, are still in their relative infancy. Pronouns especially have become a point of ridicule among anti-trans campaigners who will deliberately mock their use.
For non-binary people who use they/them pronouns, getting pronouns into people’s bios is just the first step towards feeling safe and respected in the workplace. Ahead, four non-binary people share their experiences of changing their pronouns in the workplace and their advice for others hoping to make similar changes. For some it's surprisingly seamless; for others it's surprisingly hard. But what unites them is a clear vision that the workplace still has a long way to go.