Swiss transgender group launches campaign against workplace discrimination

Some 50 Swiss companies and institutions have already signed a declaration of commitment to a trans-friendly workplace. Keystone

Transgender Networks Switzerland (TGNS) have launched a nationwide “Trans Welcome” campaign to combat discrimination against transgender people at work.

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This comes after TGNS lawyers received more than 300 complaints of workplace discrimination last year.  

The TGNS campaign, launched on Wednesday, includes the website transwelcome.ch which contains information about “Being trans and coming out in the work environment”.

Some 50 Swiss companies and institutions including Swiss Post, the Swiss Federal Railways, and ETH Zurich have already signed a declaration of commitment to a trans-friendly workplace.

The TGNS is urging Swiss employers to play a stronger role in improving the integration of trans people in the workplace. It says the Swiss government, cantons and municipalities as the largest employers must set a good example and create an “inclusive work culture” which supports trans people.

Difficulties

The unemployment rate for Swiss transgender people is 20% - five times higher than the Swiss national average.  According to Alecs Recher, head of legal advice at TGNS, this is often because of challenges transgender people face at work after coming-out. “The negative experiences include bullying, unfair references, but also sexual harassment and dismissals,” he told the Swiss News Agency.

+Find out what life is like for a transgender farmer in rural Switzerland 

According to Recher, almost all complaints handled during an arbitration process result in a favourable outcome for the trans person involved, even though complainants rarely receive financial compensation from their employers. “Yet simply hearing that they have been wronged is very important to these people,” said Recher.

A new, non-representative survey conducted by TGNS which questioned 140 transgender people in German- and French-speaking Switzerland found that for one in five participants, their coming-out had not been successful.

The study, which was co-financed by the Swiss Federal Office for Gender Equality (EBG), found that around 25% of participants lost their jobs after coming out, or experienced a deterioration of their professional situation. Less than half of all participants said that they felt accepted at work in their new gender, and 25% said that they had received little or no support from their employer.


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