The study highlights the challenges faced by transgender and non-binary workers

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New research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) highlights some of the challenges transgender and non-binary staff can face at work.

The study also shows how their experiences can help us see ways in which the work context could be changed to create a more inclusive environment that is receptive to more diverse gender identities. for example, by providing gender-neutral changing and bathroom facilities, and processes that allow people to fill in forms and choose pronouns according to their identity.

The project is published in Work Employment and Society.

While there are various examples of good practices and initiatives to make workplaces more inclusive, there is little research that tells the story of transgender employees at work. Transgender workers are often subject to discrimination, harassment and violence, despite the fact that gender identity is a protected characteristic in many contexts.

This new study examines how individual experiences combine with organizational culture, processes and work relationships to create moments where different gender identities can be accepted or rejected, which can be very damaging to transgender workers.

Lead author Dr. David Watson, associate professor of organizational behavior at UEA’s Norwich Business School, said: “Our findings are important because trans and non-binary people do not have a strong voice in all workplaces and where they are not inclusive or welcoming. this can lead to significant damage.”

The research team, from UEA and the University of Valle d’Aosta in Italy, met with 11 Italian transgender workers to hear their stories, which were then analyzed to understand how their experiences challenged gender binaries and how could inform the transformation of workplaces to become more inclusive, such as providing awareness training for staff that incorporates an understanding of gender identity as fluid and constructed.

“Our meetings convey some of the stigma and harm that trans workers can experience, however, we also heard about positive experiences,” said co-author Associate Professor Angelo Benozzo, from the University of Valle d’Aosta.

“Departing from expected gender norms exposes individuals to vulnerability, although it can also provoke reflection on the nature of gender, thereby encouraging acceptance in the workplace and reducing vulnerability to others.”

The study is based on an understanding of gender that sees gender identity as something that is performative and potentially fluid rather than fixed and given, where cultural expectations of what constitutes ‘acceptable’ gender identities shape how people ‘do’ gender, for example through the way they dress.

When the heterosexual gender model is considered the default gender identity, this notion of heteronormativity reinforces gender binaryism – the idea that society has only two sexes, male and female. that heterosexuality is expected; and other gender identities are considered less understandable or even acceptable.

Dr. Watson added, “The desirability of overturning gender norms depends on what those gender norms are, how they limit or harm individuals, and the potential consequences for those who challenge them. So our research does not show the need for the same transgender workers to subvert gender norms, but rather we need to challenge gender binaries in the workplace to allow all individuals to freely express their gender identity.”

More information:
Trans people in the workplace: possibilities for subverting heteronormativity, Work Employment and Society (2023).

Provided by the University of East Anglia

Reference: Study highlights challenges facing transgender and non-binary workers (2023, March 16) Retrieved March 16, 2023, from -workers.html

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