March 31 is International Transgender day of Visibility. We celebrate this day to say WE SEE YOU to our wonderful transgender and gender diverse community – and we celebrate their identities and their experiences.
Transgender day of Visibility is also an important day for Allies to step forward and make this world a safer and brighter future for trans and gender diverse people. We can do this learning, sharing content, raising up voices and supporting those around us!
This year for Transgender day of Visibility, we spoke to an amazing supporter of Pride in Water about their experience of being transgender in the water industry and the ways we can hopefully change the industry to be safer and more inclusive. We can learn a lot by raising up the voices around us and listening to the experience of others. As an industry, we are learning how to support our transgender and gender diverse colleagues – while the person interviewed has chosen to remain anonymous, we are grateful to them for sharing their story.
Can you tell us about your own experience of being transgender in the workplace?
As I have never had to transition in the workplace this has never been a huge issue for me. I will say that at the point when I had to take 3 months off work to have gender reassignment surgery and recover my manager and co‑workers were all 100% behind me. I chose to let people get to know me before they knew of my trans status but not all workers have this experience and I should not feel necessary to hide it at first but I do. When I have experienced discrimination, I have called it out, but there is still silent exclusion that can occur.
What are some things that the water industry should be doing to make the industry feel safer for employees that are transgender or considering transitioning?
Be reassured of their privacy and support and not be asked too much about it. Interest is great but It can set off anxiety and gender dysphoria if people keep on about how brave you are or stop talking to you about other issues. Managers need to be on the watch for any potential issues that may arise and do it discretely.
How can workplaces get involved with making trans and gender diverse staff feel safe and included?
Simple social activities in the office can feel exclusionary such as baby gender reveals etc. make an effort to include everyone in the office. Every day is like a battle with dysphoria for many, and if in customer facing jobs this can cause issues. Make sure you let your employee know you are on their side.
What are some inspiring changes you are seeing in workplaces beyond the water industry?
Organisations that previously preferred to stay in the dark are embracing diversity as they realise it is a better reflection of the communities they serve. Steps in the right direction are happening for Women, GLBTA+ & racial/ethnic minorities but there is a long road ahead
What’s your vision for workplaces being inclusive of trans and gender diverse staff?
It would involve itself in the community and be in a position eventually to educate their other staff about gender diversity and the unique challenges they face.
If you were looking for a new job, what are some key employment things you would think about before applying?
I would hope to see in their advertising that diversity is something they celebrate. I would also like things like preferred names to be acknowledged if the person has not yet changed this.
How do you think celebrating days like Transgender day of Visibility is helping the transgender community?
It brings awareness of the community and helps to diminish the somewhat seedy stigma we have.
If you have a staff member or family or friend that was transitioning – where would you encourage them to find out information?
Seek support from the community. There are many Facebook groups and support networks out there. Seek information from your workplace rainbow organisation or also from counsellors who will generally point you in the right direction. Don’t Google the word as sadly you will end up with a lot of distasteful links.
Do you have any inspiring mentors, movies, artists, podcasts that you would recommend?
Caroline Cossey who was a supermodel and Bond Girl in the 80s was outed by the tabloid media. They then went around in the early 90s on the talk show circuit bringing awareness of our cause and helping pull the curtain open her videos are on YouTube. Janet Mock is a celebrated author and her book Redefining Realness lays her experiences fighting her way to the top bare.
Find out more info about Transgender Day of Visibility
- Transhub has a great information page for Allies supporting Colleagues here
- You can also find a stack of other resources on Transhub here
- And a Trans 101 guide here
- Minus 18 has some fantastic resources too for young people and parents. You can find some of the articles here
- Find out how other workplaces are creating inclusive policy. Check out the guide for Affirming Gender Identity in the Workplace from Training for the future.
- Find out how employers can make their workplaces safer for Trans and Gender Diverse staff. Check out this guide by Transhub
- Listen to podcasts like Transdemic that feature the voices of our Trans and Gender Diverse communities.
If your organisation has a Pride network, Transgender Day of Visibility is a great way to start the conversation around making your workplaces safer.
For more information on Pride in Water, or setting up your Pride Network – get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org