Employment Issues for Transgender People Slide Overnight Position

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					To Be Who I Am: Kia noho au ki tōku anō ao

                  Report of the Inquiry into
     discrimination experienced by transgender people
             Key issues
Inquiry into:
• discrimination
• accessibility of public
  health services
• barriers to changing
  sex details on
     The Inquiry process
Celebration of Diversity

Importance of
language and
terms across:
•gender identities
      Dignity / Mana

• Celebrate resilience
  and leadership
 Findings - Discrimination
• Four out of five submissions described
  examples of discrimination that ranged from
  harassment at work to vicious assault and
  sexual abuse.
• For many trans people discrimination has
  become so common that they expect it.
• The most common area of discrimination was
  employment (75 submissions)
 Employment – key themes

• Access to employment
• Job retention and promotion
  (particularly during transition)
• Workplace safety
Access to employment
Negative reactions when a potential employer
realised they were trans
 – in some cases at an interview
 – when citing a birth certificate or previous references

   It is extremely difficult to continue to survive on a benefit and to
   retain hope that things will improve significantly when you have
   skills and experience but continue to be denied equal
   employment opportunities. (Trans woman)

   I was dropped overnight as a candidate for a job when my
   „secret‟ was discovered. I phoned the interviewer and he made
   awkward statements along the lines of having to „consider the
   feelings of other staff‟ and take into account how well I would „fit
   in‟. (Trans man)
Job retention and promotion
• Under-employment

      The Manager put me stacking shelves. He said, „you wear a lot
      of makeup, it scares the customers‟. For the six months I worked
      there, I never [got to work at the counter]. I got threatened by
      staff, derogatory comments, really horrible comments. (Trans

• Impact on career progression if you cannot disclose relevant

      Living on a waiting list means you are unable to change careers
      or jobs easily as there is a need to keep enough sick leave and
      annual leave in credit for surgery and recovery. This can be
      detrimental to your career progression, especially if you are
      unable or unwilling to explain the reasons why. (Trans man)
Job retention and promotion

“Felt pushed out”

  They said „you did say your new medication would
  impede your work ability‟. I didn‟t [say that]. It got to a
  stage where I couldn‟t go back. I just left because the
  stress was too difficult . . . and stress makes my MS
  worse. (Trans man)
       Workplace safety
• Harassment
    I was representing a trans person in low-paid almost casualised
    employment. The reasonable requirements he had for needing
    time off work became a huge problem. Terrible stuff was
    happening each day at work – language, gestures and
    sabotaging his work. He was hugely victimised and the employer
    was refusing to do anything. (Union lawyer).

• Lack of Privacy
    Other people‟s curiosity is no excuse to override my privacy
    rights, yet my manager somehow sees that as a consequence of
    the process I am in, everyone else somehow has an automatic
    right to know my past rather than to simply meet me as an
    individual. (Trans woman)
Supportive workplaces

They had no experience of this beforehand and the HR
person hunted around on the internet and found a
booklet. I went away on holiday and had written
something out that [my boss] could use. He told
everyone that the next day when I came back I would be
[known by a new female name] and living and working
as a woman. I came back and people said
„Congratulations‟, and „Well done‟.
   (Trans woman working in the public sector)
     Access to employment
           - key tips
• Focus on relevant skills and experience

• It is seldom necessary for an employer to know that a job
  applicant is trans

• Often you will not be able to tell that someone is trans

• Many trans people will fear loss of privacy and potential
  discrimination if they disclose this information

• Trans people may have particular insights or skills from
  having lived as both ‘male’ and ‘female’ – but it is their
  choice whether to disclose those experiences
3 minute discussion with person next to you:

Scenario 1: Someone on an interview panel asks you:
  “Am I able to ask a trans person for their previous name,
  in order to verify their identity”?
Scenario 2 : Someone on an interview panel asks you:
  “I think a job applicant may be transgender. Is it
  appropriate for me to ask if they are?”

                 What is your response?
   Previous Name Details
• If previous name details are required from all applicants,
  for a specific purpose, then it is relevant to ask trans
  applicants to provide these details. Otherwise it would be
• As disclosure of this information can have significant
  additional implications for trans people:
   – reassurance should be given that the information will
      only be used to verify their identity and will not be
      used for any other purpose
   – are there alternative ways of verifying the person's
• It may be helpful to mention that, if the applicant is
  employed, they would then be consulted about how to
  retain such evidence on file so as not to compromise or
  breach their privacy.
  Can I ask a job applicant if
        they are trans?

• Generally, no. In most cases someone’s sex / gender
  identity has no bearing on their ability to do the job.
• There are some very limited circumstances where it is
  legal to employ only a woman (or a man) for a particular
   – where it is a ‘genuine occupational qualification’
     (discussed in next session)
  Transitioning on the job

Transitioning at work is covered in this afternoon’s
  session. The key points are:
• Gender transition can be a very stressful process
• Many trans people fear employment discrimination at the
  point they transition
• Reassure an employee that the company will be as
  supportive as possible
• With the employee, agree on a plan for handling the
  work-related aspects of their transition

• High levels of harassment when:
   – trans people transition at work
   – a trans person’s previous gender identity is disclosed
     at work
• Employer’s responsibilities
• A supportive workplace can play a very important part in
   – someone to transition
   – a trans person to fully participate in their community
        Findings - Health

• Trans people and health professionals consistently
  raised the difficulties trans people have in obtaining
  general health services and being treated with dignity
  and respect when they did use them.

• The Inquiry has identified major gaps in availability,
  accessibility, acceptability and quality of medical
  services required by a trans person seeking to transition.

• These difficulties may place financial and other
  pressures on trans employees
    Findings - Citizenship

• Birth certificates and passports are among the important
  documents that affirm citizenship, protect New
  Zealanders from identity fraud and allow citizens to travel
  safely overseas.

• Most trans people cannot obtain official documents that
  provide consistent and accurate information about their
  gender identity and sex.

• This makes it difficult for trans people to verify their
  identity to an employer without having to disclose they
  are trans
 Recommendations and
Suggested Actions: Work
Reduce discrimination and marginalisation experienced
by trans people by:
ACTION:   Providing information about issues for trans people in
          the workplace
WHO:      Department of Labour
WITH:     The Human Rights Commission, trans people,
          employers and unions

ACTION:   Reviewing policies and practices to ensure these do
          not discriminate against, and are inclusive of, trans
WHO:      All government agencies
WITH:     Trans people

Enable effective participation by trans people in
decisions that affect them by:

ACTION: Increasing consultation and collaboration with
        trans people on issues that affect them
WHO:    All government agencies
WITH:   Trans people

Enhance the citizenship of trans people by:
  ACTION: Considering when it is necessary to gather
              sex data and, where necessary, ensuring
              categories for data collection reflect the
              diversity of trans people
  WHO:        All government agencies
  WITH:       Trans people
  (also privacy obligations to ensure information held is
           Jack Byrne
     Senior Policy Analyst
   Human Rights Commission
         (09) 375-8647


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Description: Employment Issues for Transgender People Slide Overnight Position