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    « Promoting British values – what key challenges remain? | Main | Is the Prevent Duty hindering free speech? »

    Do you know how to be a good ally to trans people?

    How have you improved trans inclusion in your organisation? Do your staff know how to be a good ally? What might this mean when you don’t knowingly have any trans staff or students? Would new guidance from UNISON help?

    ‘To you the press, I say shame, shame on all of you’.

    The words of the coroner at the inquest into the suicide of trans teacher Lucy Meadows still echo five years later, as trans people are often subject to negative media commentary. Despite the positive profiles of trans people and TV shows and films in recent years, two in five trans people experienced harassment in the past year with a 45% increase in transphobia hate crime.

    Education providers can play a central role in tackling issues and providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for trans staff and students. In March 2018, UNISON published new guidance on supporting trans people in the workplace. The guidance recommends, for example:

    • Speak up for trans people and trans equality when trans people are present. Don’t leave it to trans people to defend trans equality
    • Speak up when there are no trans people. Transphobia is always wrong and shouldn’t be ignored. And transphobia is no laughing matter – challenge even if presented in a jokey way or with no intention to offend
    • Misgendering someone or using their birth / previous name is hurtful and may be unlawful harassment
    • Try not to make assumptions. There is no universal experience of being trans. 

    You can download the guidance here

    The education sector has no room for complacency – Stonewall research revealed that more than a third of students in FE/HE experienced negative comments or behaviour from staff. Other factors hindering trans inclusion include:

    • Confusion on appropriate terminology
    • Data security and confidentiality issues (particularly important to address with the new general data protection regulations)
    • Recruitment and admissions processes
    • Access to facilities
    • Policies and procedures that do not explicitly support trans inclusion.

    In my February 2018 equality update, I highlighted this research plus the daily discrimination faced by trans people. If you missed this then you can read it here

    A lack of staff understanding and awareness is often the root cause of prejudice and harassment, even when unintentional, so invest in regular CPD. One of my popular training courses is ‘LGBT equality - celebrating diversity, fostering good relations and tackling trans and homophobia.’

    The workshop:

    • explores real-life case studies and scenarios dealing with difficult and challenging situations and how these should be addressed
    • supports staff to gain the skills and confidence to tackle issues and language that they may feel uneasy about challenging
    • explores potential challenges such as deeply held religious convictions
    • raises understanding and awareness of trans issues and explores concerns such as loos and confidentiality
    • clarifies legal requirements for collecting, evaluating and publishing LGBandT staff and student data
    • explores Ofsted requirements

    You can download information on this workshop here

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