Labour market trans people significantly better than assumed

On Labour Day, Gendertalent shows the results of the 350 cases of the last four years. On bases of these results, I argue that, rather than discrimination, five other factors play a role. I plead for five concrete actions, three of which have to be taken by trans people and two by the Ministry of Social Affairs.

In the 2011 report, commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and carried out by Dutch Central Statistics Bureau (CBS) ; it was stated that specialised help for trans persons would be most effective. In the past years, Gendertalent has coached 350 people. Of these, 95% were fit for work and 100% of the people who were ready for work found a job. A comparison with normal reintegration companies shows that these figures are 80% for fit for work and 60% to guide people to work. The guidance is also rated with a 9.2. This shows that specialised help for trans people is a very effective tool.

Furthermore, research has shown in the past that 25-30% of trans persons receive benefits. A calculation shows that this should be a total of 20,400 people out of a trans population of 68,000. Until now, however, far fewer trans persons have gone into transition. As TNN has already calculated, some 12,500 people have gone into transition. This would amount to 3,750 persons. In order to serve this group, Gendertalent has built a network with the 35 large regional municipalities that have an LGBT+ policy and the UWV. However, in the past years we saw 350 trans persons asking for help. This would mean that the number of benefit recipients would be around 3% of the total population. We estimate that a maximum of 9% would potentially be eligible for assistance. This means that over 90% of the trans people are working.

In the research carried out by the University of Humanistics and the trans lobby organisation Transgender Netwerk Nederland, it further appeared that 42% of the trans persons had to deal with labour market discrimination. In the group of people we supported, however, there were only 20 cases, of which five were serious discrimination cases. For Gendertalent clients, that is 5,7%. Although the client group of Gendertalent is not the same as the entire group of working trans people, it is striking that the figure is significantly lower, especially in the most vulnerable group, than the assumed 42% for the entire group.

If we zoom in on the five serious discrimination cases, other factors were also involved in these cases. Self-acceptance, self-stigma, resilience, constructive handling of frictions and a problem with being able to let go of difficult situations were the most important points of attention. After the counselling process in which they worked on these issues, it turned out that the impact of exclusion or bullying behaviour had been significantly reduced by these individuals. Freely translated: they were stronger in their shoes.

Further, we see in practice that there are five reasons why people become unemployed. First, the most important is that learned behavioural patterns no longer work as they did before. Secondly, hormone therapy plays a role. Thereby, the forces either decrease or increase. This can lead to burn-out symptoms, for example. Thirdly, it appears that the social environment is an important reason why someone becomes unemployed. Fourthly, it appears that work values change to such an extent that someone wants to change jobs. And finally, the effects of hormones on physical ability play a role. These reasons were also pointed out by the Dutch CBS in 2011. This picture seems to match the practice during the past four years.

If we look at the other side of the coin: the employers’ side, we see willing employers who are eager to hire diverse people In recent years, we have built a network in healthcare, engineering, construction, logistics and ICT. 90% of the companies we spoke to are open to hiring trans people. However, these companies indicated that they were worried about the operation involving financial risks. In 80% of the cases, our reassurance, the no-risk policy for WAJONG, WIA and ZW or because of the person’s age, could take away the concerns. Transition leave, as advocated by the lobby organisations and D66 is like using the Evergreen to ship 10 sea containers. The problem of trans people is mainly an assumption problem.

In conclusion, research results seem to give a skewed picture of practice. The substantive recommendations made by CBS in the past are good, but can be implemented on a small scale. How could the labour market for trans persons be improved? Based on practical experience, I advocate five concrete actions.

Firstly, I would like to suggest to every trans person that from today onwards, we change our mindset to one of optimism and positivism. That we start seeing negative situations to learn from. That we call each other to account when there is excessive negativity in order to create political support. That we stand up for the vulnerable in our group while remaining realistic towards the outside world. That from today we focus on positive situations and on employers who embrace us. Let’s highlight these companies by, for example, sharing our positive stories on social media under the hashtag #transproof.

Secondly, I propose that from now on, we all report labour-related discrimination cases directly to the labour inspectorate, which has already been given a budget for this. And above all, that we go on with our lives afterwards. That we spend our precious time on this world with employers who hire us. After all, a tour of the site shows that they do. That we realise that by focusing on this tragedy, no matter how bad, we are evoking fear in others. That we are aware that it is fear that evokes fear and positivism and hope, above all, that gives life.

Thirdly, I call on the Minister of Social Affairs, in cooperation with the VNG and the UWV, to ensure that applicants with a trans background can all use a no-risk policy guarantee. A guarantee for the period of two years (with a possible extension of two years). The no-risk policy is a proven labour market measure to take away employers’ fear of costs resulting from sickness absence. This labour market instrument is immediately available. It can be directly applied by the Minister, labour market regions and the UWV. I call upon directors of these organisations to finally take their responsibility after four years.

Fourth, Gendertalent is working with employers and educational institutions to facilitate transitions for trans people in a twenty-job labour market. I call on employers, educational institutions and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Trans People to work together to make this a success.

Finally, independent research should be conducted in cooperation with the various gender teams in the Netherlands into the actual labour market position of trans persons. This research should have a longitudinal character so that the situation, the interventions and the development can be measured over time. Moreover, this research should pay special attention to the representativeness of the respondents.

With these five measures, the persistent problems of a small group of individual trans persons are not solved, but real bumps (from work) to work for them are tackled in a proper way.