International Transgender Day of Visibility and raising awareness in the Civil Service
Blog posted by: Sue Owen, DCMS Permanent Secretary, and Civil Service LGB&TI Champion, 29 March 2019 – Categories: Civil Service Leaders, Diversity and inclusion.
International Transgender Day of Visibility takes place every year on 31 March, to celebrate transgender and non-binary people, and to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by transgender people. This year Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) has the theme and hashtag #MoreThanVisibility.
Visibility is key to developing an inclusive culture and working environment. If transgender civil servants are invisible in the organisation, individuals will feel isolated. As an organisation we need greater visibility to understand and monitor the experiences of our transgender colleagues.
In the cross-government LGBT Action Plan, we have committed to ensuring the Civil Service is an exemplar employer for collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity in a sensitive, respectful and proportionate way. We are, therefore, working with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Government Equalities Office (GEO) to develop standardised questions for inclusion in internal departmental systems, such as HR systems.
We need these data to enable us to measure our progress in:
- meeting our commitment in our Diversity & Inclusion Strategy to take targeted action to ensure that the working environment is LGB&TI-inclusive
- meeting our commitment in the LGBT Action Plan to role-model best practice in establishing working environments that are inclusive for LGBT staff
- achieving our ambition to be the most inclusive employer in the UK
In my 30 years in the Civil Service, and especially in my four years as Civil Service LGB&TI Champion, I have seen considerable progress in raising awareness of issues for trans and non-binary civil servants, and establishing working environments that are transgender- and non-binary-inclusive.
I am proud of the progress the Civil Service has made in raising the visibility of our trans staff, and beginning to address their needs. For example, during my tenure as LGB&TI Champion we have:
- specifically included transgender and intersex people in our Diversity & Inclusion Strategy
- included questions on gender identity in the annual Civil Service People Survey
- started to develop a new Gender Identity and Intersex model policy package, building on previous guidance produced by the a:gender network; and aimed at giving guidance to trans, non-binary and intersex individuals, their colleagues and managers on how to address issues in the workplace, and create an inclusive working environment
a:gender, the cross-government network for transgender, non binary and intersex civil servants, was established in 2003. As we mark International Transgender Day of Visibility, I must pay tribute to the courage, tenacity and commitment of a:gender members in raising awareness of trans issues in the Civil Service, supporting trans, non-binary and intersex staff and their managers, supporting departments in the development of trans-inclusive policies, and supporting me in my role as Straight Ally and Civil Service Diversity Champion. I have learnt a huge amount from a:gender in relation to transgender issues, non-binary issues and intersex issues.
As I step down from my role, I acknowledge that there is still work to be done, in particular:
- working with the results from our People Survey to help us gauge how inclusive our working environments feel to transgender civil servants, so that we can target actions where most needed
- developing standardised questions for collecting data on both sexual orientation and gender identity
I am confident that, with the commitment of staff networks, of departmental LGB&TI champions, and of the Civil Service as a whole, the Civil Service will become an exemplar employer, role-modelling best practice, to ensure that barriers to inclusion for transgender, non-binary and intersex civil servants are removed. I look forward to seeing this, albeit from a distance.
On International Transgender Day of Visibility, let us know what you are doing and join the conversation on social media, using the hashtag #MoreThanVisibility.
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