Transphobia at work

Gem talks about starting a new job and experiencing institutional transphobia which almost made them give up the position.

Duration 04:06

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Almost, almost everybody at the college calls me ‘he’. Even though I have a huge pronoun badge – like it’s almost an embarrassingly large one, I kind of want a smaller one, but like, I have a big pronoun badge and I see people looking at it cos I see their eyes dart down, furtively look down and then they catch me – they see me catch them looking and then they get awkward, but they still don’t use ‘them’ and they don’t even make any attempt to.
And... in fact, there are staff who deliberately go out of their way to kind of aggressively gender me male. I think cos they think they’re being transphobic when they do that [laughs].

In fact there was [pause] big problems when I joined the college. Basically HR were trying to be transphobic towards me, but they guessed my assigned gender wrong, so [laughs] so it was really weird like... because obviously... DBS checks are really important in education cos, like, position of authority and children and young people, vulnerable people – so, gotta do DBS check, which, cool, fine. But the form... was an online form, and you can only put male or female. And the titles you had to choose were Mr or Miss. And the – or Miss, Ms... Mrs – but they corresponded to the male or female, so – for, for example you couldn’t put in female and title Mr, or the other way round. But... anyway, so when it came to that form, I filled in female and Ms, because... I don’t feel any more… - I feel more female than male... and... I identify more with woman than man. Despite the fact that, I was assigned female and I’m on testosterone – this is just like, me being really genderqueer, and the world needs to... stop caring as much.

But – and so I put in female and Ms. And then... the H, HR called me and were like ‘sorry, there’s something wrong with your form. We’re gonna – you know, you acci – you know, you put in female, we have to put your gender down as male and Mr’. And I was like ‘well no you don’t, like, I put in female and Ms, so you have to go with that’. And they said ‘no, no, sorry, we have to go with what’s official’ and I was like…’you see [pause] fe – like, female is official, like I haven’t changed my gender marker, like…’. But I don’t – I didn’t actually say I haven’t changed my gender marker, I said, like, the correct one is female.
And they said ‘oh, I’m really sorry’ and they were, they were basically – they were essentially saying ‘even though, you know, that’s correct for you, we have to put in male’. I was like, ‘you’re just wrong!’. And so I said to them, I said in no uncertain terms, like, ‘you’re wrong. It – you can’t tell me what the right way to do this. I’m telling you, it’s female and it’s Ms.’ And... they [pause] they just wouldn’t do it...

And I almost – this is just when I was joining the college and I almost decided to actually to like, give up my place as a job because I was like, this is an extremely transphobic institution. Basically they thought I was assigned male at birth. And they... wanted to put me down as male and Mr because that’s what they thought my assigned gender was, despite the fact that they just got it wrong [laughs]. Like… - and… and I was very close to just not wanting to take the job because this is how – HR are the people you’re supposed to go to when you have like a discrimination complaint! [Laughs] Like – anyway, so I got through that.

And then... and then after I took the job I said to them, like, ‘on your records you must put me down as female in your records, like, I’d rather you put me down as non-binary but as if you’re going to do that. So you must put me down as female, like, even just as a point of principle – like, this is what I want. Right. And it’s the legal official one, so I don’t know what the problem is here’ [laughs]. Like... and they still haven’t done it! I’ve been… at this job, or, in the college for... like... nearly two years. And they still have refused to put down my legal gender [pause] that has never been changed on the system [laughs].