Director Rebecca Fox shares her experiences of being transgender in Britain. You and your business better listen up.
Trans people have appeared in the press and media in recent years. Broadly, this is a good thing, and society has responded positively, become more accepting and less discriminating against trans people.
But I choose my words carefully, because everything is far from perfect:
Across the globe nearly 300 transgender people have been killed in the past twelve months.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) takes place this weekend, on 20th November. On the same day every year, we remember the trans people who were killed because of who they were.
There are countless other trans people, living and dying in countries where being trans is illegal.
But we need to remember that being trans is not a choice – it’s something people are, and the choice many trans people face is to live a lie in sadness, despair and depression, or to live authentically but in fear every day.
Things are far from perfect here in the UK – in the last twelve months alone, I’ve reported seven hate crimes.
The most recent was just a few weeks ago, a weekday morning on a busy high street.
Two men approached me aggressively and shouted directly at me: “You’re an effing weirdo”
They spat in my face, turned around and walked off.
Trans people, especially trans-women, can be extremely visible – particularly during transition.
Some people are gender non-conforming or gender fluid. Some trans people make the choice to live openly, and they make it. Others simply don’t.
Suicides amongst trans people are high: the pressures from society and family to conform to gender norms is sometimes too much.
Our needs are simple, we just want basic respect. We want the same opportunities that everyone else has: to have fulfilling careers, families to love, and friends to share our lives with.
For many in the UK this is the reality – but there is still work to be done by all.
I work in tech, and I am openly trans. However, finding a new role has been more challenging since I transitioned. I am not sure why.
It could be because I am a woman, or it could be because I am trans. It could be a little bit of both.
My skills, ability and drive are still as good and, if anything, even better. But there is a problem somewhere. It could be a case of unconscious bias, recruiters nervous to put forward a trans-woman for what is says about them, or just plain old discrimination.
When people miss out on people like me, they are missing out on diversity: a diversity that stimulates creativity, challenges stereotypes, and drives more effective and inclusive thinking.
This is needed more in the technology industry than anywhere else.
Ethical and inclusive workplaces are shown to be more profitable financially and, without greater diversity organisations are missing out on talent.
We are also a customer base that is not fully understood.
Trans people need allies, just like every other marginalised group, to help stop discrimination and promote positive awareness of trans issues. Allies like you.
As I attend TDoR this year, I shall remember those people who were killed for being their true authentic selves.
I will also remember those people who took their own lives as the permanent solution to what should be a temporary problem in the tolerant, supportive and accepting society I still hope and believe we live in.
I will also stand there with my allies, my non-trans friends and my partner, and be grateful to them for how proud they are of me for living my true authentic self.
Why wouldn’t you want someone to be happy?
Rebecca Fox is an IT business leader & LGBT activist. She writes her own blog and is a regular contributor to The Memo. We think she’s ace.