Workplace diversity: we’ve got your back

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses self-harm and mental health. If you are contemplating suicide or having suicidal thoughts, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

Almost 50 per cent of Trans and gender diverse people have attempted suicide before they reach adulthood – a tragic statistic dramatically higher than the national average.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day to recognise Trans folk who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence. It's a solemn occasion for Trans people and their loved ones around the world. 

As a transgender person myself, it is certainly a day potently charged with emotion.

However, it is a day for me also to remember the privilege I have in working for an organisation that stands with me as a Trans person and says “we have your back”.

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Pic: Rochelle Johnson Source: Supplied

Transgender or “Trans” is an umbrella term that describes people who identify their gender as different to what was assigned to them at birth

This remembrance day, I pause and remember many of my fellow Trans and gender diverse siblings have lost their lives to transphobia and violence. 

"There is much still to be done to obtain equality for Trans people.”

Just like when we gather to march at Mardi Gras and remember the 78ers upon whose shoulders we stand, so too on this day we gather and remember those who have gone before us and achieved much in enabling us to live our lives in more safety and equality than they did.

But there is much still to be done to obtain equality for Trans people.

Going about life as a Trans person is in many ways an act of defiance against others thinking they can tell you who you are. It is an existence of hypervigilance, of constantly having to look out for danger – from verbal slurs to the potential of being physically attacked.

As a Trans person I face many barriers, from being able to hold identification documents that reflect my gender identity to obtaining access to health services. I face a nearly constant barrage of negative media about myself and my Trans and gender diverse siblings, often with political leaders and commentators throwing around comments about our identities to ‘score points’.

Another barrier, direct and indirect, comes in the form of employment.

Many Trans people face direct discrimination in finding employment due to people not accepting us or not wanting to work alongside us, just because we are Trans.

As many Trans and gender diverse people change their identity when they transition, we obtain new identity documents to match our new true selves but in this process we lose some of our history such as access to our professional experience, accreditations and qualifications, or work history which can become extremely difficult to verify.

One thing I have learned from being a part of ANZ, an organisation that believes in diversity, inclusion and respect, means knowing that as a Trans person my employer stands with me.

After having been assaulted and verbally abused for who I was during the marriage equality campaign last year, entering my workplace on the morning of the result I was engulfed in a sense of this being a safe place that accepts, includes and stands with me.

As we stop to reflect on the violence of the past and recognise that it still occurs in the present, it is also important to recognise that within that solemnity there are shining lights of inclusion and respect.

Knowing as a Trans person your employer stands with you shouldn’t be a unique and rare thing, it should be the typical and expected thing, and I long for the day when my Trans and gender diverse siblings have this same privilege that I have. 

ANZ is proud to support diversity and inclusion, and to stand with the transgender and gender diverse community. 

Rochelle Johnson is an Analyst in Group Technology and a Pride Senior Leader at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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