The construction industry can be tough to get used to, with potentially harsh banter and a culture of “manliness”. So you can imagine the struggles of some in construction who are victims of constant banter turned bullying, but what would that look like for a transgender construction worker?
Transgender people feel that their personal perception of their gender does not match the gender that they were assigned at birth. This can cause problems in their lives which may lead to mental
health issues further down the line. There is a lot of intolerance towards transgender people as there is a lack of understanding in the community. This lack of understanding can cause people to create views or stereotypes of trans-people which may not be true, leading to negative aspersions being cast about them.
Although being transgender is no longer classified as a mental health illness by the World Health Organisation, it is still a topic within mental health. As we are covering mental health awareness day this year, we thought that this topic was not spoken about enough within construction.
The construction industry has an issue with mental health as a whole with a large proportion of suicides being related to construction. However, the LGBT community has a particularly tough time with bullying and discrimination.
Below, you can see the statistics of employees who were asked to answer the following statement “In the past year I have personally experienced offensive or inappropriate comments / banter about my own gender or sexual identity in the workplace”.
The surveyed LGBT+ employees within construction returned a 27.8% rate of “yes” answers. This figure is incredibly high, considering it means that around 1 in 3 LGBT+ employees will face inappropriate behaviour towards them.
The poor treatment of the LGBT+ community can be detrimental to a person mental health. As many trans-people suffer from a lack of identity or failing to have their identity validated by others, they may begin to feel more alone and detached from their friends and co-workers.
“The UK’s largest trans study of 889 trans individuals across the UK, Trans Mental Health Study 2012, found very high rates of mental health issues among transgender people, with 88% of respondents showing symptoms of depression and 75% of anxiety compared with 20% of people in the UK general population. In an analysis of the same data set, researchers found that 66% of trans people had used mental health services, indicating a much higher uptake than from the general population. Non-Binary People’s Experiences in the UK, a survey of 895 non-binary people, found that 40% of non-binary people considered”https://www.lgbthealth.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/LGBTI-Populations-and-Mental-Health-Inequality-May-2018.pdf
How Can We Improve
It is great to understand the issues of trans and LGBT communities in the workplace, however, it still occurs on a daily basis regardless of if you take part or not. We should all be taking steps to help improve the lives of others where we can and use our own platforms to spread awareness.
We can start by taking harassment complaints seriously and professionally. When a trans employee complains about their treatment by another member of staff, it could be easy to blame the trans-person for any disruptions.
However, we have to accept that trans-people face bullying and discrimination throughout their lives. This doesn’t mean that you should hold a witch-hunt for any non-conforming transphobic employees. Mental Health Awareness training may be the solution as a lot of hatred for other marginalised groups, stems from a lack of understanding.
A clear diversity policy can also be a way to ensure that transphobia and mistreatment are taken seriously, or better, doesn’t happen at all. By detailing the way the company deals with these transgressions and the company’s culture surrounding LGBT communities, the workplace can become a more tolerable place to work for all groups of people.