I have transitioned over 19 years ago, and during that time, I've had several jobs. But never have I had so much trouble keeping work as I have in the last few years. My concern is that things have actually gotten worse for trans workers, not better.
I believe it is critical that trans workers be able to work; not just be able to obtain jobs, but also keep their employment - and in my experience there is little help for those who need help in keeping their jobs when employers decide to get rid of them.
There are two issues at play here:
1. Tactics used against workers to create hostile working conditions, which are employed to force trans workers out of their jobs.
2. Help available to trans workers when they under assault at work, which is the only way trans workers can confront employers when employers and their managers employ these tactics to drive someone out of the organization.
In this post, I am going to discuss the first issue: tactics used to create hostile working conditions. I will discuss other tactics, and support issues in a subsequent post, if there is interest.
Typical Tactics Employed to Drive Employees Out of an Organization:
1. Sexual/Gender remarks
These are obvious to most of us here, as I suspect we've all heard them. Pronoun disrespect, and various remarks like "fag", if you are a woman, calling you "man", if you're a man, calling you "girl", "he-she", etc, etc, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
BUT, these are easy to identify and even correct. It's the other, more subtle techniques that are truly scary, and much more difficult to confront employers over.
2. The Stress-Overload Technique
This technique is employed to stress out a worker by giving them unreasonable work tasks and/or unfair deadlines to assure a hostile work environment. This technique was recently employed against me by a recent employer.
Here's the background: The employer in question hires a highly skilled and technically experienced worker, a worker that has experience that directly maps to what the employer is currently working on. The employer either discovers, via the workers conversation with them, or they suspect the worker is trans.
Suddenly, the new employee is assigned to a technology that they have no experience in, and that typically takes years to master. Little training is provided. The employer then decides to force this new employee to perform at a masters level of skill despite the fact that they have only worked in the technology a few weeks. The employer even goes to the extreme of telling the new employee that they (the employee) can't tell others outside their immediate group that they don't have the experience or knowledge necessary to perform tasks requested. This means a comment like "I don't know the answer to your question, but I will find out the answer...." is NOT acceptable, and could be interpreted as an excuse to fire the employee for disobedience. The employer forces the new employee to misrepresent their knowledge and skills to others even within the organization they work for.
This puts the new employee in an impossible position, and that is the intent from the beginning.
But this is only one example of the stress-overload technique. There are many others. But before I give more examples, I want some feedback. Is there interest out there in discussing this topic? Are others interested in hearing about how these techniques are being used?
If there is interest, I can detail examples of tactics that are used in some other techniques listed below. I think trans workers must be aware that these techniques can and will be employed against them, and must be prepared to deal with them, however unpleasant it may be to be aware of these techniques.
3. The Lack of Work Technique
4. Blatant Sabotage