Trans workers taking on prejudice with UNISON

Trans people still face a lot of discrimination in the workplace, says Tim Roberts in his latest blog. But with unions by their side, we can take on hate

A person holds trans and rainbow flags at a Pride march

It is a sad fact that trans workers still face high levels of prejudice and discrimination when seeking work and once in work.

In fact the trans community in the UK experiences widespread discrimination in almost every area of their lives.

For several years there have been weekly – if not daily – newspaper articles attacking trans people and trans rights. The media appears hell bent on fuelling a moral panic to reverse advances in trans equality.

UNISON has a proud history of actively and effectively organising, representing and defending trans members by tackling discrimination and promoting equality within the union, the workplace and society.

We are unequivocal in our views that trans rights are human rights. Trans men are men. Trans women are women.

UNISON’s women’s conference has made it clear that there is no conflict between women’s equality and trans equality. As UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea stated last month: “I have never thought my rights as a woman were harmed by giving rights to others or by fighting for equality and justice for all.”

The 2010 Equality Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against any person who is proposing to undergo, undergoing or who has undergone a process – or part of a process – of gender reassignment. However we all know that it takes more than legislation to end discrimination.

A recent study showed that three in five (60%) trans workers have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace and that more than half (53%) have felt the need to hide their trans status from their colleagues.

A TUC report showed that 48% of trans workers had experienced bullying and harassment, compared to a third of non-trans workers. This evidence shows just how much still needs to change.

Recently I was really pleased to learn that a mental health charity in the region has developed a new Trans Equality Strategy Plan.

The focus of the plan is to 

Ensure trans and non-binary people including:

  • the people we employ
  • the people we support
  • the people living and working in the communities we are a part of

have a better experience of [the charity] and have equity of opportunity to progress at all levels of the organisation.

UNISON members worked with the charity to ensure that the strategy was the most inclusive it could be and would make a real difference in their workplaces.

We welcome all attempts by employers to achieve more inclusive workplaces. By working together, UNISON members are securing advances in trans equality in their workplaces in employers in the Eastern region and across the country.

We know that when people work together in their union they can achieve so much. Trans members in UNISON are leading the fight for equality in the workplace and wider society. The difference they are making – despite the prejudice they encounter – is truly impressive.


Picture credit: patrickdevries2003/Creative Commons