Friday, June 9

The labor reality of trans people: “They close so many doors that you think the next one will not open”

Yelko Fernandez Ferrer He has been working for the Tenerife public bus company, Titsa, for more than 30 years. He began his transit when he had been in the company for some time in which he is now head of Traffic. “Out of respect for my parents, I waited for them to pass away to make the transition and I told the company that way,” he explains.

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“From that moment on, I began to live as a Yelko and asked to be treated as a man and with respect.” The current president of the Libertrans association He affirms that the company assumed it naturally and is proud that the company has an advanced diversity plan and is involved in the visibility of the group. “There has been no difference when I was read as a lesbian woman and now as a trans man,” he adds. However, he does remember that starting transit is not easy and comments and insults are always heard from society that “although many times they are not referring to you, you believe it that way because you feel vulnerable,” he explains.

His recipe is to “keep walking” because “if you stop you will continue to be targeted and they will continue to shoot you”, he adds. His job now is to make his work compatible with accompanying trans people so that they all have opportunities to develop their life project. The first step is to support them so that they believe in themselves because “they close so many doors that you think the next one will not open.”

Their experience in this company, however, is not always common among trans people, who still face a tedious path to access employment and to keep their job. “There is a general narrative on the part of trans people that when they go to work they break their backs and endure more loads for fear of losing that job,” a trans woman explains to this newsroom. expert in the workplace that he has preferred to safeguard his name. He points out that there are several barriers and the first is precisely in access to employment. “The continuous discrimination that you can experience on the street puts you on alert when you go for a job interview,” she says. According to a study on the socio-labour insertion of trans people in Spain, an unemployment rate of 46% is estimated, a figure that should also be studied taking into account variables that increase this vulnerability, such as age, the fact of being a trans woman to be a trans man, the passing (concept to indicate the fact that a person goes more or less socially unnoticed as a trans person, depending on the Guide to improve the employability of trans people of the Network of LGTBI Municipalities) or the fact of being a migrant, as was collected also in a CEAR report.

The social worker Jennifer Molina and the counselor of the program for the employment and labor insertion of LGTBI people santiago roque (both from the Gamá association) are part of a group promoted by the Cabildo de Gran Canaria precisely to study and improve the job placement of trans people on the island. Both emphasize that during this time they have trained the interlocutors at the table and a diagnosis has been carried out that has taken into account the data from the reports at the state level and also their own data after the work they have been doing in the last decades. Both stress that there are still many pending challenges and maintain that the Canary Law of 2014the protocol of accompaniment to trans students in 2017 and the Canarian Law of 2021 have served to provide a legal framework that allows progress in rights and that now there are a greater number of trained trans people, for example.

Sara Ramirez, Minister of Equality and Diversity of the island corporation, explains that “the most beautiful thing about the project is that all the agents involved are sitting down: the different groups, also from the opposition, different areas of the Cabildo such as Employment, Human Resources, Equality and Education , town halls, unions and LGTBI groups, the Canary Islands Employment Service, the Diversity area of ​​the Government of the Canary Islands, the Canary Islands Confederation of Entrepreneurs and the Chamber of Commerce”, adding that there is already a diagnosis as well as trans employability guides, ” transformed into calendars to create safe spaces in the workplace”. This week the last of the tables of the legislature was held where the employment area explained how it is working for the inclusion of vulnerable groups in the calls, such as trans people (this is considered within the Canarian law).

In the diagnosis of the labor reality of trans people in Gran Canaria, it is verified that it is a vulnerable sector of the population, and that “a group specifically discriminated against by this intersectional dynamic is that of older trans women, who for the historical moment in which they were born, and because they are currently an aging group, they are more easily directed towards job insecurity itineraries, which often border on social exclusion”. In addition, “trans women in the context of prostitution are detected, especially when they are in situations of special vulnerability, such as the elderly, but also migrants.” Another particularly difficult situation, as far as job search is concerned, is that of young people looking for their first jobs. “There is a structural variable, and that is the difficulty in finding a job that affects youth regardless of their gender identity, but there are other specific manifestations that affect the group, such as not passing a selection process because during it it becomes visible that He is a trans person”, he details.

Likewise, trans people who work or have worked, stated in this study that they have experienced, on many occasions, discriminatory situations, derived from their trans condition (when this is known). “If it is not known, there is a fairly general fear of making it known. These situations become more complicated if the person decides to make their condition visible, or decides to move while already in a job ”, summarizes the document. Although a change in the attitudes and values ​​of citizens in general is detected, “trans people continue to detect being victims of comments, ridicule or exclusion from groups at work, due to the fact of being trans,” he stresses. It is more subtle violence that, moreover, is more difficult to demonstrate and denounce. But they also continue to occur, “in a more minority way, but not because of this, they generate less damage, cases of direct harassment, harassment, aggression and abuse.”

Jennifer Molina points out that the fact that a good practices calendar is incorporated into a job interview helps to create a safe space, as has the signage in educational centers where it is specified that the center “defends diversity”, since , maintains that “the symbolic builds and transforms”. However, he points out that the difficulties that have existed to change the name in the registry are issues that have exposed trans people to situations of violence, since the person conducting the interview can read the other person as trans, but if then the change does not appear in your documentation, a situation of misunderstanding or violence may occur, and to this is added that the person who attends the interview may have had a life history of rejection. All of this will hinder her access to employment, as do other factors such as having or not having had family support or having had access to training. These are all variables that have placed these people in a greater situation of inequality.

“We come from a history of lack of protection”, summarizes the social worker from Gamá, who adds that the 2007 Law created a legal framework, but it was necessary to update it. She considers that every time there is a legislative advance, a reactive action is produced and that is why Gamá and other LGTBI entities have had to work on this misinformation, fighting hoaxes. One of the issues that counselor Santiago Roque highlights from the new Law is article 15, which speaks precisely about companies including “an action protocol to deal with harassment or violence against LGTBI people. For this, the measures will be agreed through collective bargaining and agreed with the legal representation of the workers”. The counselor also explains that more information and awareness is still needed in companies, since there are still cases of dismissal when the boss finds out that a person on his or her staff is trans and it is difficult to prove the reason for the dismissal.

Precisely, to make the trans reality in employment visible, the UGT union organized a few days ago a conference with professionals, agents involved and company representatives. Mirna Ortega, Secretary of Equality of the UGT Canarias, points out to this newsroom that another union report on the labor situation of the entire LGTBI collective already reflected the situations of violence suffered by the trans population “not only before accessing employment but within itself” and that a more specific survey on trans people is now being prepared. He affirms that in the conferences it was possible to verify the weight that certain stereotypes or beliefs still have and that there were those who stated that “it would not be a problem to hire trans people even if it meant a decrease in income, which from the conference itself we immediately combated”. For this reason, she insists on the need to combat all these prejudices and to provide information and training to companies.

Ortega also refers to article 15 of the new law and points out that the union has fought for diversity plans to be incorporated in companies with more than 50 people on staff. “The challenge is to take it to the collective agreements of the Canary Islands.” For this reason, he hopes that within a maximum period of 12 months it will be possible to count on the regulatory development to start implementing these plans. In the conferences, the person from UGT Canarias who will be working on it was appointed so that “by the time the Government convenes the plaintiffs for negotiation, UGT will already be prepared with a proposal and with a prevention protocol for Harassment for LGTBI reasons ”, he indicates.

Another expert in the labor reality of trans people indicates that it is also important to take these people into account in the documentation of the selection processes. She believes that in Gran Canaria there are already cases of town halls that adapt the forms but there are others that do not. At this point, it emphasizes article seven of the Canary Islands regulation, which says that public administrations “must adopt all administrative measures and of any other nature that are necessary in order to ensure that in administrative files and procedures people are treated in accordance with their felt gender identity, even if they are minors, and without the need to prove it by means of a medical, psychological or any other type of report”.

He explains that there are still challenges to raise awareness among companies and highlights that in the specifications, “administrations can establish a condition of special execution of a social, ethical or environmental nature, and that clause can be the approval for the employment of people with special health needs. social inclusion such as the trans collective”, he sums up. In addition, he defends that he could score the fact of being a company that takes measures and actions for the group, such as having protocols, an anonymous complaint box against discrimination, among others.