Transgender Awareness Training

For information on Transgender Awareness Training including details of the aims and objectives and costs of training please click on the link below. If you are assessing your need to undertake training to address the Gender Reassignment protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 please read on. 

The need for training arises out of three specific area of legislation.  

  • The Gender Recognition Act, 2004 which enables a trans person to change gender legally and makes it a criminal offence to disclose a persons gender history.  
  • The Equality Act 2010 which significantly extended the protection under law to people who have, are percieved to have or are associated with someone who has the protected characteristic of Gender Reassignment.
  • The Public Sector Duty which requires all public bodies to  to pay due regard to the need to elliminate discrimination harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations in respect of all protected charcteristics. 

Trans Awareness Training Workshops

Why is Transgender Awareness Training so Important?

Unlike specific Transgender Awareness Training, most general education on this subject, especially TV documentaries and media reports, tend to focus on Gender Reassignment Surgery or "sex change".  As a result of this bias, most legislation has tended to focus on people who are undergoing, have undergone or are planning to undergo gender reassignment – and that is still the basis of the definition of the Gender Reassignment protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

This obsession with sex and surgery has always irritated me because it leads to the conclusion that there are very few people with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment and I believe the focus on sex is one of the main reasons why trans people experience so much discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

I began delivering Transgender Awareness Training Workshops in 2007 while at university studying for my master’s degree in Gender Research. Most of my audiences then were members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender ) societies. Even the LGBT community does not really understand trans.  I still come across trans people today who have never met another trans person and their own confusion is largely the result of a complete lack of understanding of what Transgenderism is all about.

From an equalities perspective, the primary issue is about appearance - people are unlikely to discriminate against us or harass us unless they know or believe that we are trans. If a trans person transitions and successfully presents themselves in their acquired gender no one will know they are trans unless they or someone knows about their past and discolses it.  Because there is a high risk of discrimination or even violence when a trans persons gender history is disclosed, that is why it is a criminal offence for anyone who is aware of our gender history though their work, to disclose that information without our permission. 

Here are a few of the statements I have heard recently made by public sector employees which illustrate the level of confusion people have and the need for Transgender Awareness Training.   If you cannot understand the problem with any of those statements then you definitely need to read on.

“He’s changed sex so why does he want to be with a woman?”

“But if she is pregnant, how can she be treated as a man?”

“But if he hasn’t had surgery, surely he can’t use the female changing rooms?”

“The child’s stepfather is a transgender which does complicate things”

Just to emphasise the problem - the 4th statement above was in an official social services report which was sent to other members of the public making it a direct breach of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010 and constituted a criminal offence by the officeer who wrote and disrtibuted the report.

I have recently come across a number of instances where a transpersons gender history has been accidentally disclosed by public sector officials. Not all have been a breach of the Gender Recognition Act, but all have resulted in internal inquiries, all have resulted in changes to policy and proceedures and all have been hugely costly in terms of  senior management time. 

The problem with many equalites breaches is that they do not appear to cost money. Management time is already paid for but in the current environment of public sector cuts, most organisations are struggling to deliver their core services cal ill afford to wate senior management time addressing breaches of equalities and changes topolicy simply because of a lack of adequate Transgender Awarerness Training. 

Gender Identity is probably the major frontier civil rights and whilst most people no longer discriminate openly against trans peope, chaning gender is difficult for people to understand and because we so heavily gender our society from the momsnt a child is born, any breach of gender norms tens to be viewed as wierd, particulary men expressing femininity. most of the discrimination and harassment is done behind our backs with sniggering and derogatory comment. 

Transgender Awarness Training and Changing Attitudes

“How do you cope with it?” said my colleague leaning forward so as keep his voice down.

“Cope with what? I said.

“All the people staring at you, talking about you, sniggering... ?”

“Where?” I said, turning in my seat to survey the people sitting around in the hotel lounge, apparently getting on with their own meetings.

“Oh, they’ve stopped now you’ve looked,” replied my colleague

“Who was making comments?” I asked, raising my voice a little.

“Leave it” he said quickly raising his hand a little, obviously mortified by the thought that I might make a scene and further embarrass him.

I relaxed. “I cope with it because I don’t see it,” I said. “People do it behind my back – they hide their prejudice.”

The conversation above was a real incident 10 years ago when I first changed my gender and started to develop my Transgender Awareness Training workshop. Since then the law has changed beyond recognition and most organisations have in place equality policies to help ensure that everyone is treated fairly and is protected from discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Unfortunately those changes in the law have had an unplanned effect. Because people know they will be disciplined if they behave or speak inappropriately they have learnt not to be seen to discriminate. Changing the law does not change attitudes and beliefs especially when no-one understands the issues. All too often the subject of sexual orientation is mixed up with Gender Identity causing further hurt and confusion for everyone.

Between 1988 and 2003 Local Authorities were prevented by law from presenting homosexuality as normal, and as a result very little Transgender Awareness Training was delivered and schools insisted that they were not allowed to include gender identity and sexual orientation in the school curriculum. Of course children were constantly exposed to homophobic and transphobic comment, were aware of other children who had two dads or two mums or a dad when was becoming a woman... but when that information became public knowledge schools simply refused to discuss it, and even now are still reluctant to tackle the area.

Transgender Awareness Training needs to address unspoken issues. It is not possible to exclude sexual orientation from a discussion of gender identity. Just because a man wants to live as a woman, does not mean that he wants relationships with men, just as many my women change gender and live as gay men. Unfortunately many people when they see a transgender woman, treat them as a "bloke in a dress" and assume they are gay". When people discriminate against me it is often homophobic discrimination.

This confusion means that people don't want to talk about the topic in case they get it wrong and are accused of discrimination or harassment. And faced with a trans person applying for employment, there is inclination to find a way to exclude them to avoid having discrimination harassment problems. And this highlights the much more difficult challenge organisations face today - the unconscious and hidden bias and prejudice that is impacting the way people are treated every day.

People still talk about me behind my back, refer to me a “he” instead of “she”, point and snigger when I pass and I still seldom see or hear any of it. But my friends, family and acquaintances do. Where people hide their deep prejudice from me, they openly show it to people who know me, even confronting them for being with me, and often waiting until I have left before making comments. All too often however I don't get to hear about it, because people are concerned that I will be upset and remain silent.

What they don’t understand is that my friends, family and acquaintances are just as hurt and upset by their behaviour and comments as I would be if they didn't hide it from me. And from my experience, unless there is a programme of Transgender Awareness Training, this behaviour could be happening every day in your organisation.

Transgender Action Plan

Government research quoted in the recent Transgender Action Plan shows:

  • Nearly half of transgender employees experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace
  • 88% of respondents said that ignorance of transgender issues was the biggest challenge they faced in employment
  • Transitioning at work was highlighted as one of the most significant triggers for discrimination
  • More than half of respondents said they suffered discrimination in accessing public services because of their transgender status
  • Between 2009 and 2010 transgender related hate crime increased by 14%

Please download and read the government’s Transgender Action Plan.

What can you do to address this issue?

After reading the Transgender Action plan, please consider inviting me to come in and help.

As one of the UK’s leading motivational speakers and trainers, I have been delivering equality and diversity workshops and keynote presentations, especially Transgender Awareness Training, for nearly a decade and work with over 250 organisations, particularly local authorities, housing associations, educational, NHS and criminal justice organisations.

My workshops and presentations are always highly interactive and entertaining, exploring the impact of the Equality Act in regard to sex, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation and human rights, while demonstrating how the principles discussed apply equally across all protected characteristics. I use a variety of presentation methods - video clips, music, lecture, discussion, groups exercises, questions and answer, case studies and where I use PowerPoint - it is a visual aid. No death by slides presentations.

Most importantly my Transgender Awareness Training is based on real life experience. I take participants on a journey to help them to really understand what it’s like to grow up and cope with being trans or gay, and provide an open environment where they can ask any questions no matter how personal.

My experience over the past decade has confirmed to me that the people hold prejudices mostly through ignorance. Many have never met and spoken to anyone who is trans or gay, and they have been hugely influenced by homophobic and transphobic comments from friends, family and the media. They see and hear trans and gay people and their friends being humiliated and ridiculed, often behind their backs, and feel bullied into silence.

Feedback from my Transgender Awareness Training and other workshops indicates that participants are much more likely to challenge homophobic and transphobic comments, contribute to creating a more harmonious and supportive workplace and treat all service users more fairly and equally after attending a workshop.

I work with organisations to deliver training that is best suited to their circumstances, budget and audience. Presentations can be from one hour to 6 hours and to any number of participants.

If you would like more information on Transgender Awareness Training and other Sex Gender and Equality Training please complete and submit the form below and I will send you more details by return.

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