Being transgender in the workplace has always come with significant challenges. Whether this is the communication process with your colleagues, arranging leave for medical procedures, or the sheer uniqueness of a person’s transition for the organisation, it can be both daunting and frustrating.
Now, however, there is a new agency ‘Transwerkt Nederland’ (Trans Works Netherlands) which facilitates this process for both the person transitioning and the organisation through an integral approach putting the transitioning person in the middle point. As an initiative of the well established re-integration bureau “Job Coach Connect”, and at the request of Workplace Pride member UWV and civil society organisation TNN (Transgender Network Netherlands), this initiative has huge potential for both the transgender community and their employers.
In the article below, Petra van Dijk of Transwerkt Nederland tells her own story and relates how the tide has turned for the better for transgender people in Netherlands’ workplaces.
Later this fall, Workplace Pride office will be hosting a webinar with Transwerkt Nederland and dive into more detail about the complex issue of being transgender in the workplace.
Trans Werkt Nederland Supports Transgender People
About a year ago, a re-integration agency called Jobcoach Connect, was invited by Workplace Pride member, UWV and TNN (Transgender Network Netherlands) to tackle the low employment rate of transgender people in The Netherlands, through guidance and job coaching. This new initiative is called ‘Trans Werkt Nederland’ (Trans Works Netherlands)
From a study conducted in 2017, we learned that almost 20% of transgender people are unemployed or incapacitated and that 28% have a net income of less than €1.000 per month, despite 41% of them being well educated.
As a qualified job-coach and a experiential transgender woman, I think I can make a difference when it comes to empowering trans people. Be it helping them find work or to resolving challenges in their workplaces. I recently joined Trans Werkt Nederland because I think it’s important that the talent of transgender people is not wasted and that transgender people can function perfectly just like any other employee.
A lot of improvements still have to be made for LGBTQI+ people in the workplace. Recently, a consultancy organization called ‘Berenschot’ conducted a survey that showed that only 20% of Dutch companies have an active diversity policy. Another survey by IT service provider ‘Peak-IT’ showed that 20% of the supervisors and HRM managers are hesitant to hire a transgender person!
These times are very challenging. We’ve had the #metoo discussion, and the horrible death of George Floyd that outraged the world. The #blacklivesmatter movement demands the end the discrimination of people of color and ending institutionalized racism.
In the midst of all this, we have the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of people all over the world are infected, many getting sick. Lots of companies struggle: less work, employees working at home, decisions made on whether to continue with providing government support or letting people go or maybe even going bankrupt. Many are unemployed as a result, often being the most vulnerable with flexible or temporary contracts, young people working in the catering industry and the self-employed.
Recent developments in Hungary and Poland show that some European countries are not being progressive in their legislation for the LGBTQI+ community.
The recent ILGA Rainbow Index shows no progress for the LGBTQI+ situation in Europe.
However, I personally feel that times are slowly changing overall for the better for LGBTQI+ people. But at the same time I realize that I am very privileged as a Dutch, white, well-educated trans woman with a strong character and lots of support in my life. I know that many trans people are struggling, even in The Netherlands. Especially trans people of color, religious trans persons and sex-workers.