Rachel Reese & Emma Cusdin on London Pride and Trans Rights
Empiric Empiric

Q&A with Rachel Reese & Emma Cusdin on London Pride and Trans Rights

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Published 16/07/2018

Q&A with Rachel Reese & Emma Cusdin on London Pride and Trans Rights

Rachel Reese, Director at Global Butterflies, and Emma Cusdin, People Director at Aviva, give their take on the London Pride protests and where the trans movement is headed.

Did you enjoy this year’s London Pride?
Yes, we had a great time, we always do.    

There was some disruption during the parade by lesbian protest group ‘Get The L Out’ claiming their rights are under attack by the trans movement. What is your take on this? 
It was unfortunate that a very small number of people managed to disrupt the event. It is an operational issue for Pride In London to review next year. Our view was that the event was still a great success with 30,000 people marching and celebrating. We don’t believe Pride In London is transphobic in anyway and we do support what they do.

People forget that Pride In London is a voluntary organisation, many of our friends donate 100s of hours of their time to this event (many were devastated by what happened). The demonstration by these women actually brought the LGBT community closer together in its unity of disapproval of what these women stand for. 

There are those who suggest that gender and sexuality should be treated separately. Where do you stand on that?
They are not separate, many trans people are indeed LGB in their sexuality. People often say maybe the “T” should be separate from LGB - how can it be? We all face similar prejudice and there is unity in numbers. 

How have attitudes to trans people changed in the last few years in general?
We would say up to 2015 it was becoming good to be trans in the UK, however, hatred for the trans community in the USA by the Trump/Pence administration has washed across the Atlantic. Also the delay of the Gender Recognition Act Review by the UK Government has allowed anti-trans groups to publish untrue and hateful articles in the media. The protest group at London Pride was indicative of this delay.

Where do you hope to see the trans movement in a few years’ time?
We hope that the Irish system of self-declaration will be implemented. Also, that the Equality Act will recognise non-binary people. There is a lot of work to do in the UK until trans rights are truly accepted. We need to heal as a community as we are very splintered, a very different picture to the community of 20 years ago.

What changes have you seen by businesses to make their working environments more welcoming to trans people?
Many of our clients are doing great work in our space. Three of our clients made it in to the WEI Trans Top 10 employers list. To be a successful trans-inclusive employer you need to get inclusivity into your DNA, you can’t bolt it on. Most businesses train their top teams and HR functions (including recruiters who often won’t put trans people forward for jobs). Vibrant and living trans policies are also an important aspect of trans inclusivity. We spend a lot of time training client facing staff / customer services which is an aspect that often gets forgotten. 

Do you have any advice for trans people in the workplace?
If you want to transition, don’t waste time (we did), it is never as frightening as it will be in your head. Speak to someone you trust. Look for signs that your employer is going to be supportive (See points above).       

If you have transitioned, be yourself, don’t let anyone tell you how to be, you are amazing, you are the only person like you on the planet. If your employer doesn’t have any trans role models, consider stepping up BUT don’t let them roll you out everywhere, it can be exhausting; ask them why you are the only out trans employee, if you are.

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