Two Sudbury organizations create training to help transgender employees
Only about 40% of transgender people are employed full-time
Two Sudbury groups are working together to help employers learn how to make their spaces safe, inclusive and positive work environments for transgender people.
TG Innerselves and the Sudbury Worker Education Advocacy Centre have created training events geared toward employers, employees and community members who want to learn more about creating inclusive work environments.
"Both agencies have encountered many trans people who experience discrimination and harassment in the workplace and barriers when it comes to employment," said Vincent Bolt, the education manager at TG Innerselves.
TG Innerselves is an organization that supports trans people by providing a safe space and support, as well as providing information and education to people in the community.
"I think back to my own experience coming out in the workplace and I came out at my first job when I was 16 and when I came out to management it was negatively received, they refused to change the sticker on my name tag, refused to call me by my chosen name and it was a real struggle to have my name and pronouns respected even after I legally changed my name," said Bolt.
He says he uses his own experience to help educate employers, employees and community members who want to learn.
According to Bolt, transgender people face many barriers in the workplace, many similar to his own coming out experience.
We've had a lot of cases where people were outed by other employees and then what happens is you have those who oppose your transition who then make the environment toxic.- Vincent Bolt
"Although 71 per cent of transgender people have some post-secondary education, only about 40 per cent of trans people are employed full-time," he said.
"Which means many of us are either precariously employed or unemployed and it's not because we don't want to work, it's that we also experience other barriers when it comes to seeking employment, so a lot of people who are qualified for the position they're applying for, once they go for the interview and it's found out they're trans they're not called back."
Bolt says his organization hears from many trans people who have had issues with their boss or coworkers after coming out.
"We hear this all the time, people saying that after I came out as trans my hours were reduced... and the environment becomes so toxic that the person often ends up quitting," Bolt said.
"Not everybody even comes out at work on their own terms or willingly. We've had a lot of cases where people were outed by other employees and then what happens is you have those who oppose your transition who then make the environment toxic," he said.
Which is why Bolt says they decided to create training workshops to help people understand the rights of transgender employees.
The first training session was on Friday at the Sound End branch of the Sudbury library, Bolt says the free training was sold out within a couple of days.
"A lot of interest from people who work in various sectors, so both people from the not-for-profit sector and the for profit sector," he said, adding that more sessions will be offered in the fall in both French and English.
During the training, people have the opportunity to learn about what is protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code, what rights that trans people have provincially and federally and ways that work environments can be made inclusive and be safer workspaces for trans people.
"If you are actively going through your social and medical transition or just starting your coming out process in a workplace, you have to come out to people and you never know how people are going to respond or react to that," said Bolt.
"We want employers to know that it is a person's right to be able to transition in the workplace, it's a person's right to have access to the uniforms and nametags that represent their identified gender and chosen name, that employees have the right to use the washrooms and change rooms that reflect their gender identity, that employers have a duty to accommodate trans employees."