Individuals who identify as transgender face more everyday problems than we may know. The little things, such as having to choose a bathroom without getting yelled at or getting security called, or having to explain why you look absolutely nothing like your drivers license are a few things that heterosexuals take for granted.
The workforce today is strongly dominated by men. Typically white, middle to upper class men. However, when it comes to being transgender, being a white man is not necessarily favored. According to the article in “Introducing the New Sexuality Studies”, by Kimberly Tauches, people who identify as transgender undergo far more than we would expect. Transgenders face conflict in public spaces, language, documentation, sexuality, and also problems in the medical world.
Gender is a term that evolves over time. Today, gender is defined as something different than it was viewed as in the 1950s. A woman in the past who went and did work in an office for example was viewed as masculine, as well as a woman who played sports. Today, gender has obtained a new perspective. Feminine and masculine are different than they were fifty years ago. Gender operates at many different levels, including personal, in the workplace, and through interaction. All of these contribute to gender attribution, which is the process in which we decide and expect a person to act, based on what we see. We base what we see from how masculine or feminine the person acts.
Men have always been viewed as masculine. In the work place, men have always been favored in earning more money, such as doctors, lawyers, and bosses. Men also obtain the label as head of family, and have shown significant power over woman in politics. How is this supposed to come into play when a woman becomes a man?
Transgenders today often have a ridiculous amount of criticism when trying to fit into the workplace. According to americanprogress.org:
- Fifteen percent to 43 percent of gay and transgender workers have experienced some form of discrimination on the job.
- Eight percent to 17 percent of gay and transgender workers report being passed over for a job or fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Ten percent to 28 percent received a negative performance evaluation or were passed over for a promotion because they were gay or transgender.
- Seven percent to 41 percent of gay and transgender workers were verbally or physically abused or had their workplace vandalized.
- Ninety percent of transgender individuals have encountered some form of harassment or mistreatment on the job.
- Forty-seven percent of workers have experienced an adverse job outcome because they are transgender. This includes:
- Forty-four percent who were passed over for a job
- Twenty-three percent who were denied a promotion
And 26 percent who were fired because they were transgender
The link above is the story of a woman named Vandy Beth Glenn who was fired when she told her boss about her transition from being male to female. The took this into court regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009.
The HRC.org (Human Rights Campaign) noted some important pros and cons of becoming transgender:
Some benefits of disclosure:
- Living an authentic and whole life
- Reducing the stress of hiding our identity
- Being more productive at work
- Developing closer, more genuine relationships with colleagues, customers and clients
- Building self-esteem from being known for who we really are
- Having authentic and open friendships with other transgender people
- Becoming a role model for others
Some risks/consequences of coming out:
- Not everyone will be understanding or accepting
- Family, friends and co-workers may be shocked, confused or even hostile
- Some relationships may permanently change
- You may experience harassment, discrimination or violence
Unfortunately, there are no answers on how to perfectly or correctly obtain a transgender identity in the workplace. Being transgender is something that is a challenge that comes with a lot of personal choices. Applications may or may not ask for gender specifications as well as medical paperwork.
Transgender individuals face many problems not only keeping a job, but getting hired. The application and interview process are difficult. There are 29 states in America that make it legal to fire you if you identify as gay. There are many tips on sites that transgenders are required to use in order to keep or receive a job. These tips include some things that most people don’t have to face. Transgenders are suggested to keep their identity private and not make it a crisis at work. If it is to be discussed, it should be done not on-site at work, and made known that it is private. Trasgneders are also required to not slip under any circumstances while on the job. Every move is watched under a very large microscope. Transgenders are also advised to record every move they make. This way, if something slips up regarding discrimination, they have proof that the work was put in. Transgenders are advised to keep calm in situations. One might feel that he or she is constantly being watched or harassed. It might be hard to stay focused at work under that type of pressure.
How would you feel if your co-worker opened up to you?
Do you think that transgenders are going to be given equal opportunity in the next few years?
Do you think that transgenders have to right to be upset with how they are treated or do business owners have rights in choosing who they hire?