Research finds half of transgender employees hide LGBT identity due to discrimination fears

Leading LGBT charity Stonewall is calling for organisations to change their workplace culture to prevent discrimination against transgender individuals

In a survey commissioned by Stonewall, YouGov have reviewed the daily lives of more than 5,000 lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) individuals across Britain. The survey found the workplace continued to cause LGBT individuals difficulties because of their gender identity, including many suffering from bullying and discrimination from colleagues. In addition, “alarming” numbers reporting they had faced a physical attack in the workplace; one in eight trans employees reported an attack by customers or colleagues.

The survey revealed employees are deliberately disguising their gender identity because they are fearful of discrimination taking place; half of trans and non-binary individuals said they had hidden or concealed that they are LGBT at work.

To provide support for LGBT staff at work, Stonewall recommends organisations should introduce clear policies on bullying, discrimination and harassment of trans staff to create a zero-tolerance workplace. A separate policy should also be developed to support trans employees who are undertaking gender reassignment, covering matters such as using appropriate facilities, dress codes and confidentiality.

Individuals who are undergoing, have undergone or are proposing to undergo gender reassignment are protected against less favourable treatment on the grounds of their gender reassignment under the Equality Act 2010. The legislation does not explicitly protect other trans individuals, such as non-binary individuals whose sense of gender identity does not identify with male or female, however these individuals may receive protection under the protected characteristics of sex or sexual orientation.

Organisations are encouraged to remember that transgender or transsexual employees are not required to inform managers or employers of their LGBT identity. Intrusive questions should not be asked about gender identity, even when the organisation becomes indirectly aware of their trans identity through, for example, social media or identity documents.

Once the organisation is aware of the employee’s LGBT identity, the organisation will have to ensure they do not ‘out’ the employee as this is likely to breach their right to privacy. The organisation may be required to disclose the information, such as to inform the employee’s manager of their preferred title or pronoun, however they should meet with the employee and agree the sharing of information with them in advance.

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