At Howard Kennedy, inclusion and diversity is a key part of our personality. We are proud to celebrate our LGBTQ+ colleagues. June 2021 is our Pride Awareness Month. It's an opportunity for us to learn and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, as well as hopefully educate and inform others. In a series of articles, we will be educating on each initialism that makes up LGBTQ+.
An important part of being an ally to transgender people is learning what it means to be transgender. We thought it would be useful to learn directly from a transgender person, so we asked a few questions to a family member of Sarah's who is a young transgender person currently transitioning.
Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
Gender identity is a person's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or boy or girl.) For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match.
Some transgender people seek to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. This is called transition.
What common assumptions do people make about transgender people that are wrong?
People just see it as a trend or a phase and not something that is life changing. Being transgender isn't fun or quirky it's a really tricky thing to deal with. There is so much discrimination towards transgender people as well as bigotry and transphobia towards non-binary people. You may not understand what they are going through but be respectful because at the end of the day this has affected them so much more than it will ever affect you.
What could employers do to support a transgender person transitioning?
For me and transgender people, it's really important that I can talk to management about anything I don't feel comfortable with without feeling like it will be ignored.
Using the toilet at work (if they are gendered) can be quite stressful so giving a trans person the option of the disabled toilet can be really helpful.
Make sure that your legally changed or preferred name is right on everything in the workplace.
How can friends and family support a loved one transitioning?
The best way of supporting anyone who is transitioning and the most important is to make sure that you are just there for them. If they trust you enough to come out to you, maybe you can ask to go to appointments to support them. Use their correct or preferred pronouns and name immediately. Slipping up is okay and inevitable however if you do, then just correct yourself and move on. Try not to be offended if someone does correct you because it's really hard to correct someone as a transgender person. If you aren't sure how you can help, then it's perfectly okay to ask the person in question!
Have you been faced with any barriers or prejudices on your journey?
I am very lucky to have an incredibly supportive family and group of friends, but I have seen so much more hate and prejudices towards transgender people. Quite often people will purposefully misgender you (call you she when you go by he) as a way to be nasty and say that you are just confused and don't really understand what you're doing. They often try to make out that you will one day come to your senses and detransition.
What can people do to become an ally?
Be a friend to those in the LGBTQ+ community. It's really not very hard at all essentially just be kind. If you see someone who is giving an LGBTQ+ person a hard time, then speak up because that can be incredibly useful. Join in with PRIDE and celebrate everything that has been achieved by the LGBTQ+ community! No one is going to turn you away for being straight or cisgender.
Have you come across any useful resources, support groups, forums etc. that you could recommend to help with people's education?
This link will take you to a website full of transgender resources: https://www.glaad.org/transgender/resources
Another good one to get yourself educated is this: https://www.gendergp.com/important-documents/
Please share anything else linked to your journey which could educate others?
Transgender people aren't evil or any kind of bad, they are just people that were born into the wrong body and they want to fix it.
This article was written by Lauren Goulding (HR Business Partner) and Sarah Elazoua (Head of HR).