Jack is a Journalism Student at UTS with an eye for politics, health and the LGBTI community.
Transgender Australians are calling for stricter regulation around discrimination in the workplace.
While policies exist to ensure all LGBTI employees are protected at work, gender transition is a complex process that can leave individuals feeling defenceless.
Transgender Sydneysider Jesse Jones said there should be mandatory education around trans issues in the workplace, and supportive policies that are taken seriously.
I had to go and hide in the bathroom until I stopped panicking
Mr Jones started his transition after his thirtieth birthday while self-employed in sex work. Once he stopped passing as female, he found a telemarketing office job.
“I joined my new team on the first day, and one guy launched into asking me all sorts about transition, and I hadn't even said I was trans. I was exposed, afraid," Mr Jones said.
"I had to go and hide in the bathroom until I stopped panicking.”
Mr Jones said the experience was common for transgender individuals, with many forced to find alternate working arrangements in fear of discrimination.
“Education needs to be ongoing, not a once-off couple of hours that everybody forgets. It needs to lead to a total attitude change, not just lip service,” he said.
Currently, the implementation of education programs around LGBTI experiences are at the discretion of business owners.
LGBTI health promotion organisation ACON's Brent Mackie said unemployment rates were high in the transgender community because intolerance and discrimination acted as barriers to transgender individuals obtaining and maintaining meaningful employment.
Kaya Wilson, who transitioned into a female when she was in her late 20s, said her experience was “largely positive”.
“I've done other different jobs where it would have been an issue. It was still terrifying but my boss said that her primary concern was my emotional wellbeing, and I cried.”
“I researched all of my rights and the laws and stuff. I came really armed. I feel like I made decisions where it wasn't going to be an issue,” she said.
For many transgender individuals, arming themselves with policies and rights is a natural step in the process of transition.
“If you're going to come out at the office, talking to some other trans people or a trans specialist psychologist can be a good way to get ideas for approaching it,” said Jesse.