April 18, 2018 / 12:11 PM / a year ago

Firefighters and bankers pledge to be 'transgender allies' in UK workplaces

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In fire stations, banks, companies and parliament, British workers have pledged to support transgender colleagues facing violence and discrimination through a training program that aims to promote inclusive workplaces.

Britain’s lower house of parliament, leading banks Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group, consumer goods maker Procter & Gamble Co and accounting firm EY are among those rolling out the program to support transgender people.

Stonewall, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights group which is spearheading the training, said half of transgender people it surveyed have hidden their identity at work because they feared discrimination and abuse.

One in eight transgender workers have been physically attacked by a customer or colleague but other members of staff can help by being a “visible ally”, it said.

“A lack of confidence can often provoke a fear of making mistakes, and prevents many people from being visible allies to trans people – whether that’s in the workplace, in the local community or online,” said Bex Stinson of Stonewall.

“Our ‘Trans Allies Programme’ is here to help people better understand the issues trans people face, and offer them a way to learn more about how to step up as an effective trans ally,” Stinson, head of transgender inclusion, said in a statement.

The program comes amid greater acceptance and recognition of transgender rights in Britain, particularly in parliament.

“The House of Commons is committed to creating an inclusive environment for all staff and to wholly supporting LGBT equality,” said Jennifer Crook, head of diversity at Britain’s lower house of parliament.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday called for Commonwealth countries to reform outdated anti-gay legislation would help to stop widespread persecution and discrimination.

Last July, May’s government also proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act to allow gender reassignment surgery without a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a mental health condition where someone’s gender identity does not match their physical body.

The Lancet medical journal estimated in 2016 that there are about 25 million transgender people globally.

Transgender people suffer high rates of depression - up to 60 percent - due to stigma, discrimination and abuse, jeopardizing their physical and mental health, it said.

Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Katy Migiro; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, gender equality, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories

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