One in Eight Transgender People Have Been Physically Attacked at Work

A new UK survey from Stonewall found that trans and non-binary people face shocking levels of harassment and abuse.

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Jan 19 2018, 4:22pm

Photo by Alexey Kuzma via Stocksy

LGBT rights campaigners Stonewall has warned of "widespread" and "profound" discrimination and violence against transgender people in the UK.

According to a YouGov survey commissioned by the organization, one in eight transgender people have been physically attacked in their workplace by colleagues or customers. Half of trans and non-binary people also hid their gender identity at work for fear of discrimination.

Silvia, 30, from Wales, said in the survey: “I recently resigned my post due to being bullied by a manager after a conversation between myself and a few friends was leaked regarding my transition. I was bullied into self-harm, suicidal ideation, and resigned as I felt I had no other option. I am now struggling to get a job because I'm transgender.” (Stonewall withheld the last names of respondents' last names for confidentiality reasons.)

Almost 900 trans and non-binary people responded to the survey as part of an ongoing series of reports into LGBT life in Britain. “What we have found is deeply worrying,” the Stonewall report reads. “Hate crime and discrimination against trans people, on our streets, in our hospitals, in workplaces and at universities, is widespread.”

The high level of harassment and violence at work mirrors the daily experience of many trans and gender non-conforming people. Forty-one percent of trans people and 31 percent of non-binary people said they experienced a hate crime incident in the last 12 months, according to the report.

Young trans people are especially at risk of violence, with 53 percent of those aged between 18 and 24 targeted by hate crime on account of their gender identity in the last year. Only four in five said they feel comfortable reporting such attacks to the police.

“I was verbally assaulted, called a 'tranny', 'shim', 'he/she', 'pussyboy', groped, and had someone try to yank my binder outside a nightclub,” said Sean, a 23-year-old from the south west of England, “and this all on the same night.”

Discrimination and fear of harassment also stop trans people from participating fully in everyday life and accessing public spaces. Over two in five people said they avoided certain streets because of fears for their safety, and a third of respondents reporting that they had faced discrimination when visting cafes, bars, and nightclubs in the last 12 months. Almost half of trans people said they did not feel comfortable using public toilets.

"People react aggressively when I use public bathrooms if they are unsure of my biological sex," said Flynn, 21, from the east of England. People think it is acceptable to ask me about my sex and genitals in public environments. I have had people grab my crotch in public walking down a road in the middle of the day in a crowded area."

The report comes at a time of increasingly hostile right-wing media coverage of trans issues, described by many—including former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband—as a moral panic reminiscent of the newspaper scaremongering around gay people in the 80s. In December 2017, the government announced that it would delay long-anticipated reform to gender recognition laws.

“We are constantly questioned on our existence, treated hostilely and ridiculed in the name of debate. We are constantly exposed to hate and criticism in media and daily life as the public respond to the media's attitudes,” said Esme, 32, from Scotland. “I'm sick of being described as a mentally ill freak.”

A Stonewall spokesperson told Broadly: “Our research lays bare the deeply worrying levels of transphobia and transphobic hate crimes and incidents in Britain today. What’s worse is these hate crimes against trans people are even happening in the workplace."

"Simple changes such as creating zero tolerance policies on transphobic bullying, can massively improve day-to-day life for trans people," they added. "Stonewall also has guidance for employers so they can develop a policy to support employees who are transitioning. We’re also calling for changes to the law and are lobbying the government to update the Gender Recognition Act (2004), which is in desperate need of reform."