Ottawa

Military embraces, retail industry shuns trans workers, says Carleton prof

A Canada-wide study by a Carleton University professor suggests transgender individuals are more likely to be denied work in customer service industries than in other industries.

Retail and service industries more likely to discriminate against transgender workers, says prof

The transgender pride (left), pride (centre) and Canada 150 pride flags fly after a flag raising ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 14, 2017. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

As the Canadian military is inviting transgender people to join their ranks, an Ottawa human rights advocate says not all industries are as inclusive. 

A Canada-wide study by Dan Irving, a human rights professor at Carleton University, suggests that transgender individuals are more likely to be denied work in customer service industries than in other industries.

Dan Irving, a human rights professor at Carleton University, said his research shows transgender workers face barriers in the workplace. (Dan Irving/Facebook)

His research found that in many cases people were fired, denied promotions or failed interviews because they would have to explain why "they didn't look like a 'normal woman' or a 'normal man.'"

"Their gender performance started to be conflated with the job performance," Irving told CBC Radio's All In A Day. "It has a lot to do with appearance."

Canadian Forces tweet a good step

After President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that he would reinstate a ban on transgender people from joining the U.S. military, the Canadian Armed Forces had a tweet of their own. 

Though public acknowledgements like this are a step in the right direction, Irving said there is still work to be done. 

"Part of it is talking to labour activists and people who could defend workplace rights," he said. "[And] part of it is to have wider conversation about how we judge people."

However, not every sour job interview or pink slip can be attributed to gender identity, Irving added.

"It would be bad … to assume that certain employers are acting a certain way because of transphobia," he said. "But these conversations need to be had."

Almost 20 Canadian Forces' members underwent sex reassignment surgery between 2008 and 2015. 

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