“I realised I was a transgender woman. When I made the announcement, I got lots of messages of support”
Each year between 13 and 19 November, people and organisations around the country take part in Transgender Awareness Week to help increase understanding about transgender people and the issues transgender people face. Transgender Awareness Week falls the week before Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is held annually on the 20 November.
Danni our IT Support Officer, who has worked with us for nine years, shares the support she received from Family Fund throughout her transition towards being a woman:
“I am one of the people Family Fund staff call on if their laptops stop working, and it’s my job to get them back up and running and awarding grants as quickly as possible! I also help with the IT infrastructure, so it’s also not uncommon to find me with my head in the suspended ceiling or hidden behind a server rack.
“In July this year, I realised I was a transgender woman. This means I was born a man, but I identify as a woman, and I have started to transition towards being a woman socially, medically and legally. There were a lot of signs over the years – thoughts I’d had and things I’d said, but I just wrote them off as random thoughts people have. In July, I was watching a video of a woman playing guitar and I thought: “I wish I was pretty like her”, which was accompanied by an intense feeling of sadness, and that’s when it all fell into place, and I realised!”
“Family Fund is an incredibly inclusive place to work. We have gender neutral single occupancy toilets, we have a team of inclusion champions who help shape company culture and policy, and honestly everyone here is just so nice! I didn’t have any worries or anxieties about coming out at work.
“I was obviously going to look very different the day I came into work as a woman. I made a post on the company intranet explaining what was happening, to save having the same conversation 200 times, to set expectations to avoid surprised looks. And so people would be able to get my name and pronouns right straight away.
“When I made the announcement, I got lots of messages of support. HR and some of the managers messaged me directly and asked me if there was anything they could pass on to their team to make coming into work, as my authentic self, easier. One of the supervisors had a lovely conversation with me and kept an eye out for people using my old name and wrong pronouns, and my colleague in IT helped me changed my name and email addresses in our many IT systems. There are a lot, and I was getting a little bogged down changing everything myself.”
The future of workplaces
“While many workplaces have policies in place to protect transgender people, it would be nice to see people in all workplaces treating transgender people with respect – not because they know they will get a disciplinary for breaking company policy, but because they know it’s the right thing to do.
“It’s certainly the latter at Family Fund, and I think as people are becoming more aware of transgenderism it’s becoming the norm across UK workplaces too, despite remaining hostility towards transgender people.
“I also hope to see paid time off for medical transitioning, as it can involve quite a few appointments and weeks of recovery time.”
Tips for colleagues and workplaces on how to be better allies to transgender people
“Respect the person’s decision. As I came out in my 30’s and hadn’t shown any external signs of wanting to be a woman, some of my friends and family were very confused. Just trusting that when someone says they are transgender, and they know their own selves, makes life so much easier!
“Remember to use the person’s correct name and pronouns. This also applies when you are talking about the person in the past tense (e.g. telling a story about them from before they came out.) It also applies when that person is not present, and you are talking about them to a colleague. If you get the person’s name or pronouns wrong, correct yourself, say sorry, and move on.
“If someone else gets the transgender person’s name and/or pronouns wrong, correct them. A transgender person will often have to do this several times a day, and it’s like a small confrontation, which can be exhausting. Taking some of this burden off their shoulders can really help them get through their day!
“Introducing yourself with your pronouns in meetings with external clients/suppliers, even if you are cisgender – where your gender matches your biological sex. This can take the stigma off others doing the same.
Tips for people considering coming out to their workplace and colleagues
“Remember you are protected by law in the changes to the equality act in 2010 and join a Union – many offer free legal support if you have an issue in the workplace. Write a message first, leaving a message on the company intranet before you come into work with a new wardrobe makes it easier for people to process the change.
“When introducing yourself outside the office, also use your pronouns. I went on a first aid course and despite wearing a skirt I was misgendered all day for two days by the instructor. I should have used my pronouns after telling the group my name, it would have made the two days go so much better.”