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I've been making the following self-explanatory post around some transgender/intersex support sites. Since it fits in the activism area, I thought I'd post a copy here. Obviously, you're welcome to pass on your comments, no matter that you probably aren't directly affected. (it's a bit wall-of-text, sorry)

I am a recruiter of almost 30 years, (and a bank manager before that) and in all that time, I have never had a transgendered person apply for a job, and have never seen one employed by the wide array of companies I deal with. These range from large multinationals to local businesses with two employees. The lack of visibility of employment of transgendered people in general is a blight on our (New Zealand's) otherwise excellent human rights history.

As an active supporter of LBGT rights (as well as human rights in general) I have been trying to find a way to be of some practical help to people who are trans/intersex. Part of the driver for me doing this now is that my oldest daughter (age 15) has been school friends with two kids for ten years, one of whom is FtM and the other MtF.

Attitudes in the wider community have me fearful of their employment prospects, and while I don't know one of the pair very well, the other has been a frequent visitor at our house since early childhood, along with his mother - whom I coincidentally knew from years prior. As a result of being around someone going through transition from female to male, my 12-year-old son doesn't see it as anything special, or even very interesting. He just sees it as the way that person's life is, which is how it should be. He even looks up to the 16 yo as a male role model! When I was12, I never even knew there were transgendered people.

At this stage, my thoughts are to introduce some of my more humanitarian employers to an affirmative action-style program whereby the companies make a commitment to employ someone from the TG/IS community. Some of these companies already have sensible human rights policies and I'm sure it will only be a case of getting them to think about TG/IS employment for them to join in. I realise that drawing up a policy will be a little tricky as it's important that the policy itself doesn't become a reason for discrimination by "outing" people and putting labels on them. As long as the details of the policy and not the people involved are the only public releases, I think the outcome is manageable.

The way I would see it working is that companies would agree to actively seek to employ a TG/IS person and offer support. Such support to be at the request of the employee, and it would all be done non-publicly, as I don't think drawing attention to either the employee or the policy would be helpful.

I have been speaking to local TG/IS support groups, and while some of the leaders are in good jobs, lots of the others are not and many of them have been the victim of discrimination. I get the feeling that many find it easier to stay out of the general workforce than face the inevitable stares and whispers. That can only change if many people work together for a common goal of stopping discrimination. It seems to have worked out well for the LG part of LGBT, but they have the dual advantages of "appearing normal" and large numbers.

I want to try get as wide a cross-section of people's opinions as I can so that I can present as much information as possible to these companies. Obviously, names or any identifiable details will not be included.

What I'm after is opinions on the following questions:

Are you happy in your current employment? Or do you feel that you are in a lesser job than you are capable of?

Would you be happy to work in a front-line position where you interface with customers? Or would you prefer to be in a team of good people but without customer contact? (how about phones if face-to-face isn't your thing?)

If you have higher than school qualifications, do you feel you get value from them in the workplace?

What suggestions do you have for overcoming discrimination in the workplace?

What practical steps could employers quietly undertake to make changes to infrastructure that would make it easier of TG/IS employees? Like unisex toilets, for instance.

My intention at this stage is to seek out people I know well who are likely to buy into the idea, then use my recruitment company (at no cost, obviously) to actively recruit TG/IS candidates, by working with the community in a way that I don't think corporate HR managers have the desire or ability to do.