Significant hormonal changes such as those experienced in menopause can affect a much wider community than many of us realise and it is important that employers are aware.
Members of the trans and non-binary community can sometimes experience menopause symptoms if they are taking hormonal treatments.
It is important for employers to be trans and non-binary inclusive in the support they offer.
What do the statistics tell us?
- 650000+ people in the UK are estimated to experience some degree of gender non-conformity. This is equal to 1% of the UK population who are on the gender identity spectrum.
- In Europe, this figure is 4%. The US says 12% of Millennials and 20% of Generation Z identify as non-binary.
- 60% of trans and non-binary people have experienced harassment or mistreatment in the workplace.
- It can often be hard for us to get into blue chip companies; many trans and non-binary people end up working part-time.
- International unemployment in the trans and non-binary community is 15% (before lockdown).
- 53% of the community are hiding their gender identity in the workplace because they feel it is unsafe to be visible.
These statistics tell us that the trans and non-binary community are struggling in the workplace, often being unsupported, and yet we make up a significant part of the population.
Since I transitioned 20 years ago there have been workplace improvements, however, we cannot take our foot off the gas in regard to trans and non-binary inclusion.
I know that for many organisations getting to grips with trans and non-binary language can be difficult. My advice would be to start someone’s name first and get to know them as a person. You can then follow on with their pronouns and title (if they have one). Personally, I get to know someone’s gender identity and what it means to them, as I get to know them as a person.
Starting with trans and non-binary language first can be problematic e.g. previously we just used the term ‘transgender’ but not everyone really fits neatly into this category. For instance, some non-binary people do not see themselves as transgender. By all means read up on the trans and non-binary terms online; remember to start with the person in front of you rather than a label.
Generally speaking, if sex is computer hardware, then gender identity is your programming e.g. how you see yourself internally. Gender expression is your ‘outer coating’, such as pronouns, clothes, voice etc… essentially how you demonstrate your internal gender identity.
What does transition or change in gender expression entail in the workplace?
In work terms, this can be a short meeting in HR to say that your pronouns have changed but it could be undergoing a full medical transition that can take up to seven years.
Trans and non-binary people and the menopause
It is important to note that not every trans or non-binary person take hormones. A person can change their gender expression without any medical intervention whatsoever.
Those taking hormones to feminise will usually take oestrogen and progesterone, along with testosterone blockers. To masculinise, they will take testosterone and oestrogen blockers. People taking these hormones have regular health checks.
Menopause symptoms can arise we come off hormones, which we may have to do for procedures. We may experience the same symptoms when we restart the hormones.
This hormone disruption can cause sleeplessness, fatigue, lack of concentration, mood swings, hot sweats… all similar to those which can be experienced during menopause. People experiencing these symptoms will potentially need the same workplace support as those going through menopause. This is where employers need to make sure they are being fully inclusive.
Adjustments like change of uniform, access to toilet facilities and cold water, plenty of ventilation, and the chance to ask for flexible working can support all people with these symptoms.
It can be easy to get bogged down with the language and terminology, remember to start with people first.
Author: Rachel Reese, Global Butterflies.
Global Butterflies was created to bring awareness of trans and non-binary issues to the business sector. By working closely with companies, their hope is to help organisations adopt a zero-tolerance approach to trans-phobic behaviour and attitudes, while also taking steps to help them become more inclusive in their cultures.
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