· Features

Hot topic: Ensuring trans employees feel comfortable at work, part two

What can employers do to ensure transgender employees feel comfortable in the workplace?

Erin Bisson, a transgender woman, has won a landmark case to have Condor Ferries remove the words ‘ladies’ and ‘gents’ from its toilets. What legal issues do employers need to be aware of, and what can firms do to ensure transgender employees feel comfortable in the workplace?

Jay Stewart, director of Gendered Intelligence, says:

"Toilets are where gender expression gets policed.

"As a trans guy I have found going into gendered toilets quite stressful. When I was a teenager I was regularly challenged in the girls’ toilets. When I was transitioning I didn’t go to a public toilet I just held it in until I was somewhere safe. Now I use the ‘gents’ when there’s no other choice but there might not be a decent lock or even a door. So the stress hasn’t gone away.

"There are others like me and the number of people identifying as neither male or female (non-binary) is growing.

"Part of the work we do at Gendered Intelligence is to support organisations to think about the inclusion of trans people. Toilets will always be just part of the conversation but gender-neutral toilets solve a lot of problems. Many organisations are making great headway in ensuring there are gender-neutral toilets in their buildings."

Fox Fisher, an artist, film-maker and LGBT rights campaigner, says:

"Cases like this will encourage other businesses to step up their game. However, it’s my hope that firms are making changes because they care about their trans employees.

"Condor was quick to say this was both non-intentional and non-malicious, despite its diversity training programme. While change is most certainly happening, this case is another reason we need the same diversity training in all workplaces.

"It’s like the wild west, with some businesses ‘on board’ and eager to improve, while others are ticking the ‘diversity training box’ – which may still not include the T in LGBT.

"The Stonewall Top 100 Employers is now taking the T into consideration, and those who value being ranked as leaders will be keen to comply. There will be a trickle-down effect with other businesses. However, this is not enough."

Read what Stuart Jones, national head of employment at Weightmans, and Nick Green, senior director of talent and capability at Asda, said here.