Understanding Gender Identity with Future Learn

New online course on Understanding Gender Identity with OU and FutureLearn

In October the Open University launched the UK’s first ever online training course focusing specifically on gender identity, developed in partnership with Gendered Intelligence.

The two-hour short course – Understanding Gender Identity – has been created to help organisations become more trans-inclusive and understanding, after it emerged that one in eight trans employees has been physically attacked at work in the past year.[1] 

The course is based on our 90 minute training session and is aimed at a new audience of professionals and students who are keen to access their learning online.

The course is led by author and academic Dr Meg-John Barker and Dr Jay Stewart, co-founder and CEO of Gendered Intelligence, and will be hosted on FutureLearn, the social learning platform. It costs just £25, and is open to all individuals and employers looking to increase their awareness of trans identity.

The key topics highlighted in the programme include: the core contexts of gender awareness and trans identity; an exploration of key terms and use of language; a basic understanding of legislation around rights and responsibility around trans identities; and an introduction for employers on how organisations can become trans-inclusive. The interactive content includes quizzes and video role-plays showing how to be a trans ally.

This course is the first in a series being developed by The Open University to tackle workplace bias. Other short courses will look to address similar areas of bias and discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexuality, age, race, culture and religion.

Dr Meg-John Barker, Senior Lecturer at The Open University, said: “Few people have a good understanding of gender identity, and they can be negative or overly conscious in their approach as a result. Many trans people face discrimination every day – and it’s time for this to change, which is why The Open University has developed this short course on Gender Identity.

“This is the first in a series of short courses on bias. Bias is everywhere, and it’s essential that employers and individuals take responsibility for addressing it. By increasing awareness and understanding of the key issues both workplaces and society will become safer and more inclusive.”

Jay Stewart, co-founder and CEO of Gendered Intelligence, said: “We are very excited to have partnered with The Open University to develop our training sessions for a new audience who are keen to access their learning online. At Gendered Intelligence we are experiencing huge interest from a wide range of professionals working across public, private and third sectors who are keen to learn more about how they can ensure their organisations are inclusive of trans and gender diverse people. This short course is an affordable way to address gaps in knowledge from organisations who have only a few employees and to those with tens of thousands.”

[1] Stonewall (2018) LGBT in Britain: Trans Report

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What is it like to be trans at work? We found out at Imagining Our Futures 2017

Last Saturday at Gendered Intelligence we ran our annual day about careers and interests for young trans people in London, Imagining Our Futures 2017. 

In the morning we invited 15 diverse employers and organisations to run stalls and chat to attendees about what they can offer to trans people.

We were delighted to have stalls from Accenture, Amazing Apprenticeships, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Diversity Role Models, EYLondon College of Beauty Therapy, Media Trust,  Ministry of Justice/Civil Service, NHS Employers, NUT, Royal MailSoho TheatreStonewall, TfL, with Institute of PhysicsRoyal Astronomical Society and National Physical Laboratory on one stall.

A group of trans teachers from the NUT  ran a workshop about what it’s like being trans as a teacher alongside the careers and interests fair.

At the beginning of the day we asked young people to share their concerns about their future at work or following their interest. Their comments demonstrated that there is still a lot of fear and apprehension around what it means to be trans at work. They are concerned about “being viewed as inferior compared to others”; “getting discriminated against” and “being outed against my will”.

Imagining Our Futures gives young trans people a chance to talk to employers and organisations about careers and projects that interest them. More importantly, those employers have an opportunity to tell young trans people that they are welcome in the workplace. Many organisations now recognise the value of a diverse workforce. Resilience and self-knowledge are assets. Imagining Our Futures provides a space for employers to communicate their message that trans people have a place in their workforce.

During the afternoon session, ten adult trans professionals with a range of backgrounds spoke to the audience of young trans people and their parents/carers about their experiences of being trans in the workplace. Just under half of them were non-binary. We heard from an academic, a London Underground driver, a video games developer, a charity filmmaker, a graphic designer, an archaeologist, an IT engineer at Mars, a software developer, a consultant and a primary school teacher.

Our speakers did not shy away from issues that they had encountered at work. They spoke about instances of being misgendered and when other’s lack of knowledge had created tricky moments for them. Everyone had experienced challenges and looked for advice and support from their employer, union or wider networks of friends, mentors and allies.

However, our speakers’ experience of work were overwhelmingly positive. Their employers had been accommodating and supportive and in general they were able to be themselves at work. Many found that their work improved once they felt comfortable in themselves .

At the end of the day, we asked all the young people who attended for their reflections about Imagining Our Futures 2017. Here are some highlights:

“The job fair was interesting – I felt like something positive could come out of it and it was great to speak to real people.”

“The employers I spoke to had a great attitude.”

“This morning’s careers fair showed us that employers are keen to diversify and appeal to trans people.”

“I have learnt that workplaces are accepting.”

“Thinking about a career is usually daunting, but today has given me a lot of confidence. I feel like I have a future as a trans person. “

“It’s reassuring to know that I have options in the future.”“It’s good that the fair focused on the “T”. I graduated recently and have been to LGBT employment fairs where trans gets lost.”

“It’s been empowering and encouraging. We exist everywhere and it’s been great to see companies that value our individuality.”

“I now know there is a place for non-binary people in the workforce. I go by they/them and I see that I can do that in the future too.”

There is a lot of work to be done to make sure that young trans people are, and feel, safe to be themselves in all areas of their lives. Imagining Our Futures showed attendees that progress is being made and that they can have the future they deserve.

We’d like to thank the National Union of Teachers for donating their amazing space at Hamilton House for Imagining Our Futures 2017.