Supporting members experiencing transphobic false allegations of misconduct

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2018 National LGBT Conference
27 July 2018

Conference notes with concern that over recent months there has been a dramatic increase in anti-trans campaigning and transphobia online, in communities, workplaces and, sadly, even within parts of the trade union movement. Although often superficially linked to the debate about the Gender Recognition Act, in reality most of the anti-trans campaigning is targeted at rolling back trans people’s existing rights to use services, to be employed in health and social care roles, and to maintain privacy about their gender history. Some anti-trans campaigners have maliciously contacted the employers of trans people to falsely accuse them of misconduct purely because they have spoken out in support of trans rights.

Conference notes that one young trans healthcare assistant tried to debate in favour of trans equality online and mentioned the name of their employer as an example of trans-inclusive good practice. An anti-trans campaigner argued that trans people should never be allowed to provide intimate care to service users. The next day, the anti-trans campaigner emailed the trans person’s employer falsely accusing them of sexual assault of service users. Alone, unsure of their legal rights, and facing an automatic disciplinary investigation, the trans person was so distressed they made a serious suicide attempt. The employer’s investigation ultimately cleared the trans person and identified that they had been subjected to a transphobic false allegation.

Conference further notes that a member of UNISON’s trans caucus was recently subjected to transphobic abuse and harassment on social media. Following a threat to cause him harm, his employer was sent malicious communications naming him and saying that he ran a ‘misogynist Twitter feed’ and ‘shouldn’t be working with children, especially young girls’. Given he works in the children’s and young people’s mental health sector, this was intensely distressing and traumatic. The organisation he works for has little experience of working with trans issues and he felt they were not equipped to properly support him through the police investigation and the impact. The police were limited by constraints of legislation in that it was his employer and not him who was deemed the aggrieved in law as it was they who received the malicious communications.

Conference therefore calls on the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Committee:

1)To continue to work with the National Executive Council to encourage all parts of the union to speak up in support of trans people, especially their right to privacy about their gender history and their right to employment in health and social care roles.

2)To circulate guidance for UNISON stewards on how to best support trans members subjected to transphobic false accusations of misconduct.

3)To work with the trans caucus to encourage the gathering of trans members’ experiences of transphobic false allegations and targeted harassment at work to facilitate the raising of awareness of these issues in the union and the submission of evidence to future reviews of relevant legislation such as the laws on hate crimes.