On 20 November, Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) honours transgender people who died from transphobic violence. This day is important to focus on prejudice, discrimination, and structural barriers that cause these tragedies.
It follows Transgender Awareness Week ( 13th - 19th November) and is a day of reflection and action to confront the bigotry and discrimination suffered by the transgender community.
Hate Crimes in The UK
Recent UK data show transgender people's experiences of hate crime. Transgender hate crimes rose 56% in a year, the largest yearly rise since records started. The total number of offences recorded in 2021-22 reached nearly 156,000, with those targeting people of transgender identity rising from 2,799 to 4,355. This significant rise has been partly attributed to the prevalence of transphobic narratives on social media and the discussions surrounding transgender issues in public discourse.
Organisations like Galop, an LGBT+ anti-abuse charity, have emphasised the tangible impact of transphobic rhetoric in the media and by politicians, stating a direct link between such narratives and the violence inflicted upon the transgender community. The concerns are magnified by the observation that hate crimes against LGBT+ individuals tend to receive lower sentencing lengths compared to other hate crimes.
Such societal and political climates contribute to a hostile atmosphere, signaling to potential perpetrators that their actions are tolerable. These are more than just statistics; they represent a disturbing trend of increasing violence against individuals for their gender identity, underscoring a pressing need for societal change and increased protective measures for the transgender community.
Trans People in the UK, Legal Protections
The 2021 UK Census includes an optional gender identification question for 16-year-olds for the first time to collect transgender data. 262,000 (0.5%) of 45.7 million respondents indicated a gender identification different from their biological sex. This group included 48,000 trans men, 48,000 trans women, and 30,000 non-binary, with a lesser percentage identifying as other genders.
Multiple laws protect transgender people in the UK. The Equality Act 2010 protects gender reassignment, it protects transgender people against discrimination in employment, education, as consumers, while using public services, when purchasing or renting property, and as club or organisation members or visitors. The 2020 Taylor v Jaguar Land Rover Ltd decision recognized non-binary and genderfluid identities as protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.
What are Dog Whistles and How to Challenge Them?
Dog whistles are subtle, coded messages or phrases used in political messaging to appeal to a particular group without making the underlying message explicit. These messages are often used to convey controversial or potentially offensive viewpoints in a manner that is not immediately apparent to the general audience but clear to the intended subgroup.
On Transgender Day of Remembrance, it is particularly important to be vigilant about the use of dog whistles that may undermine the significance of the day or propagate transphobic sentiments. Workplaces should be aware that phrases or coded language that seem innocuous can carry harmful meanings or perpetuate stereotypes about the transgender community.
To challenge dog whistles, organisations can:
Educate staff on the importance of TDOR and the impact of harmful rhetoric, empowering them to recognise and challenge dog whistles.
Create a supportive environment where transgender employees feel safe to voice concerns about covert discriminatory language.
Encourage open dialogue about the language used in the workplace, promoting transparency and inclusivity.
Highlight the consequences of dog whistles and the importance of using language that respects all individuals, especially on days of remembrance.
What Can Workplaces Do to Show Solidarity?
Workplaces can play a pivotal role in showing solidarity and marking Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) through various meaningful actions:
Hold workshops and training sessions that educate employees about transgender issues, history, and the significance of TDOR. This can involve inviting speakers from the trans community or organisations that work for trans rights and inclusion.
Moment of Silence
Observe a moment of silence on TDOR to remember the lives lost to anti-transgender violence. This can be part of a larger company-wide event or meeting to pay respects and reflect on the importance of allyship.
Use internal communication channels to share stories and information about TDOR. Posters, newsletters, or articles can be effective in raising awareness. This can also include social media campaigns using relevant hashtags to show support.
Supporting Transgender Organisations
Partner with or donate to organisations that support the transgender community. Encourage employee matching programs to amplify the impact of individual donations.
Make sure corporate policies include transgender and non-binary colleagues. Non-discriminatory employment, transition at work policies, inclusive health benefits, and gender-neutral toilets are examples.
Adopt and encourage the use of inclusive language within the workplace. This includes using correct pronouns and titles (such as They/them.) and respecting people’s identities.
Transgender Inclusion Committee
Form a committee focused on transgender inclusion to provide a platform for transgender employees to voice their concerns and suggestions for a more inclusive work environment.
Wear purple or light a candle at the workplace as a sign of remembrance and solidarity. Displaying the transgender flag or creating a memorial space where employees can leave messages of support can also be powerful gestures.
Organise volunteering days with local LGBTQ+ groups that work directly with the transgender community.
Issue a public statement or press release reaffirming the company’s commitment to transgender rights and inclusion and recognising TDOR.
By taking these actions, workplaces not only mark TDOR with respect but also contribute to a culture of inclusivity and understanding that supports transgender employees year-round.
Want to learn more about trans inclusion in the workplace? Listen to our recent interview with Eva Echo, Director of Innovation, Birmingham Pride: