Sample Essay on Transgender Community and Employment

Like other minority groups, transgender people face challenges in all areas of life, including employment. It is a minority group that is rarely covered. Just like other minority groups, it is necessary that their plight be highlighted in order to encourage their protection. Stryker defines transgender as “an umbrella term that refers to all identities or practices that cross over, cut across, move between, or otherwise queer socially constructed sex/gender boundaries.”[1] There is little consensus among scholars as to a complete definition. Though evolving, the definition of transgender is often considered to include transsexuals or people who express a desire to anatomically switch to the sex opposite to theirs. Others include cross dressers or people who prefer to clothe like the other gender without necessarily being transsexuals;[2] and people who feel that their gender practices and expressions conflict with those traditionally recognized as belonging to “woman” or “man”.[3] A good manager should be capable of equal treatment of everyone in his or her workforce, and also be protective of minorities in cases of their maltreatment by their colleagues. This research aims to highlight the plight of transgender people as a minority in employment and the workplace, and the firmness of the laws meant to protect them.

Regarding the statistics of the proportion of LGBT in the work place, the numbers are rather obscure. This is because it is difficult to determine the proportion of their population in the general population in the first place. In the United States for example, there is no federal data related to their population. Information about ethnicity, gender, race, and other demographic variations are usually collected except gender identity and sexual orientation. Transgender status is never asked about by the National Survey of Family Growth.[4] The Department of Labor does not collect data on sexual orientation and gender-identify either.[5] The William Institute’s estimation of Census data put the number of transgender or gay local government workers at 585,000; state government workers at 418,000; and federal government workers at 200,000.[6] By estimation, there are about nine million transgender and gay adults in the United States.[7] It follows that there are only just over a million transgender or gay workers in the public sector. In the private sector however, almost 7 million of the labor force are transgender or gay.[8] It should be noted that all these figures are just approximations. Therefore, while there is a temptation to think that there is growth in the number of transgender workers, it cannot be confidently told as there are no adequately reliable figures.

As to their entry into the workforce, transgender people encounter challenges and problems owing to who they are rather than merit and their qualifications. For example, on one hand, many employers in the United Kingdom are recognizing the advantages that accrue to their businesses from creating an environment that incorporates and accommodates people from diverse backgrounds. These include sexuality, age, gender, color, disability or any other groups, as it has been observed that the brightest talent is best harnessed from a diverse workforce, the result of which is high job performance and, resultantly, high productivity. On the other hand, other employers however struggle with the challenges that pertain to the recruitment of a diverse workforce. Evidence shows that, in particular, transsexuals are discriminated against more than other minorities groups when it comes to hiring.[9]  This happens in spite of the fact that the United Kingdom has legislation that criminalizes workplace discrimination of transgender people.[10] Some of the reasons may be personal to the prospective employers while others reasons can be attributed to lack of awareness. For that reason, transgender people find themselves in a situation where they have to avoid disclosing their circumstances to their prospective employers and even during their employment if they are offered the job.

Most of the transgender people who successfully get hired still get to face discrimination in the workplace. Studies reveal that up to ninety percent of transgender people do report some form of mistreatment or harassment in the workplace.[11] This behavior directed at them by their employers and/or fellow employees threaten their economic security in terms of reducing their ability to properly do their job, thus lowering their productivity, and consequently making them vulnerable to being fired. Some may resign because of the conditions. Some of the acts of discrimination against transgender (and gay) people include denial of promotion solely because of their gender identity or sexuality; their performance being evaluated negatively because they are transgender or gay rather than their productivity; experiencing physical or verbal abuse; and their workplaces being vandalized.[12] Workplace discrimination is encountered at a higher rate by transgender people compared to lesbians, gays, or other minority groups.

Even if transgender people are able to put up with the sorts of discrimination they experience in the work place, they still face the possibility of being fired merely for being transgender. Of the many available reported cases, one of the most striking ones took place in the United States, and happened to an employee working at a state’s administrative level. Just because of being transgender, Vandy Beth Glenn was fired from her job with the Georgia General Assembly because, according to her boss, she “would make other people uncomfortable and her transition was unacceptable and inappropriate.”[13]  This is not an isolated case. In jurisdictions where employment security laws are not firm, it is easy for such types of arguably inappropriate firings to happen. In States where there is enough protection, going through the legal process can be a difficult and demanding process, especially in situations where the victims cannot afford legal fees necessary to see the legal process through.

Having looked at the plight of the transgender group in the workplace, it is necessary to ask if there are laws in place to protect them. In the United States, while some States prohibit discrimination of transgender people, such laws do not exist at the federal level. Congress has repeatedly failed to pass an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that protects gender expression and sexual identity.[14] In the United Kingdom, there are two major Acts of Parliament that are concerned with one’s rights as a transgender person: the Equality Act of 2010 9 (Scotland, England and Wales). This protects against victimization, harassment and discrimination because of gender reassignment; and the Gender Recognition Act of 2004, which gives a transsexual person the right to seek complete recognition of his or her gender identity in legal terms.[15]

Assumption is usually made that gender identity is a self-explanatory concept, on the basis of biological cues, appearances and mannerisms. For that reason, the society is usually out of touch with the realities of being transgender. It fails to acknowledge that there could be alternatives to the traditionally assigned concepts of “man” and “woman”. Anyone who comes out as a transgender or chooses to seek gender transition gets his or her life made difficult when found out. In the workplace, people of sexual minorities are victimized, harassed, and discriminated against. They encounter problems during their job seeking and hiring by prospective employers; during work by their colleagues; and even end up being fired for being who they are in cases where they have managed to put up with the discrimination, victimization and harassment. Transgender people experience these problems at a very high rate in comparison to other minorities. While it would be thought that putting in place laws that are protective of transgender people would be a good thing to do, very little or nothing has been done in the way of taking such measures. There are no such laws at the Federal level in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the two available laws do not arguably appear to be robust enough. Transgender people are people like anyone else. There is no reason why they should be subjected to different treatment to anyone else. In the workplace, everyone should be measured in terms of their qualification, merit and productivity – a person’s identity should not in any way be an element in the employment equation.

Bibliography

American Arbitration Association. 2010. Handbook on employment arbitration and ADR.

Huntington, N.Y.: JurisNet.

American Law Institute-American Bar Association Committee on Continuing Professional

Education. 1994. Current developments in employment law: ALI-ABA course of study materials. Philadelphia, PA: American Law Institute-American Bar Association Committee on Continuing Professional Education.

 

APSU JABR Vol 1, No 2, November 2014  By David Grimmett.

Burda, Joan M. 2008. Gay, lesbian, and transgender clients: a lawyer’s guide. Chicago, Ill: ABA

General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division.

 

Burns, Crosby et al. 2011. Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace

Discrimination and Harassment. Centre for American Progress. https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2011/06/pdf/workplace_discrimination.pdf

 

Burns, Crosby et al. 2012. The State of Diversity in Today’s Workforce. Centre for American

Progress.                                                                                       https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2012/07/pdf/diversity_brief.pdf

Sen, Indrani. 2005. Transgender human rights. Delhi: Isha Books.

Stryker, Susan. “My Words to Victor Frankenstein. Above the Village of Chamounix-

Performing Transgender Rage.” Kvinder, Køn & Forskning 34 (1994).

 

Target Jobs. Transsexual and transgender issues: diversity matters.

https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/equality-and-diversity/324261-transsexual-and-transgender-issues-diversity-matters

The Williams Institute. Estimates of LGBT Communities.

http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/1_LGBTWorkforce1.pdf

 

[1]  Susan Stryker. “My Words to Victor Frankenstein. Above the Village of Chamounix-Performing Transgender Rage.” Kvinder, Køn & Forskning 34 (1994), 251.

 

[2] Indrani Sen. 2005. Transgender human rights. Delhi: Isha Books, 5.

 

[3]   Joan M Burda. 2008. Gay, lesbian, and transgender clients: a lawyer’s guide. Chicago, Ill: ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division, 156.

[4] The Williams Institute. Estimates of LGBT Communities, 2. http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/1_LGBTWorkforce1.pdf

 

[5] Crosby Burns et al. 2012. The State of Diversity in Today’s Workforce. Centre for American Progress, 4.  https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2012/07/pdf/diversity_brief.pdf

[6] Ibid, 3.

[7]The Williams Institute. Estimates of LGBT Communities, 2.                            http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/1_LGBTWorkforce1.pdf

 

[8] Ibid, 6.

[9] Target Jobs. Transsexual and transgender issues: diversity matters, par. 2.

https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/equality-and-diversity/324261-transsexual-and-transgender-issues-diversity-matters

[10] Ibid, par 3.

[11] Crosby Burns et al. 2011. Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment. Centre for American Progress,1.

https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2011/06/pdf/workplace_discrimination.pdf

[12] American Law Institute-American Bar Association Committee on Continuing Professional Education. 1994. Current developments in employment law: ALI-ABA course of study materials. Philadelphia, PA: American Law Institute-American Bar Association Committee on Continuing Professional Education, 1994.

[13] Crosby Burns et al. 2011. Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment. Centre for American Progress, 2.

https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2011/06/pdf/workplace_discrimination.pdf

[14] APSU JABR Vol 1, No 2, November 2014  By David Grimmett, 114.

American Arbitration Association. 2010. Handbook on employment arbitration and ADR. Huntington, N.Y.: JurisNet, 188.

[15] Target Jobs. Transsexual and transgender issues: diversity matters, par. 15.

https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/equality-and-diversity/324261-transsexual-and-transgender-issues-diversity-matters