6 Ways Travel & Hospitality can better support the Trans community

If you've not already noticed, the trans community is under attack...and not just in the UK. In the US, it's been the worst year in history for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being passed, and over here the Tories are actively attacking the trans community to distract from their incompetence, most notably refusing to ban conversion therapy for the Trans Community.  In America, the right wing FOX news have even wheeled out Caitlyn Jenner to spout her usual anti-trans nonsense and JK Rowling is up in our grills here being a mega-TERF (educate yourselves on this term please, in short it's radical anti-trans views hidden behind extreme feminism). The hate just won't stop.

Yet our industry, one that has many people who identify as on the trans or wider LGBTQ+ spectrum whether openly or behind closed doors, has remained at large silent on this. In an industry that is based on human relationships, we should be supporting people and celebrating our unique differences and that includes the Trans community. 

Let me make one thing perfectly clear here - silence in this matter is complicity to what's going on. Right now it's an incredibly scary time to be LGBTQ+ and especially trans. I'm calling on our industry to please stand up & support us and have listed 6 issues we currently face and how the industry can help:

1.Issue: Trans voices are not heard - cis-het people are writing about these issues, talking about them in interviews and controlling the narrative. The trans community is silenced and vilified constantly and it's incredibly tiring. 

How can you support? Amplify trans and wider LGBTQ+ voices. Whether that is bringing in outside support to your organisation from an ed&i perspective to educate your workforce (Katie Neeves is your person there) to signing up to amazing services like QueerAF, who send weekly newsletters to your organisation written by LGBTQ+ talent about LGBTQ+ issues that won't make mainstream news. No budget to bring in external trans talent? No problem. You can share trans content on your socials - instagrams to engage with and follow are: Alok Vmenon, Mx Deran , Charlie Craggs, Juno Dawson , Fox Fisher, Radam Ridwan , Munroe Bergdorf ,Raising Theybies and Rico.

2. Issue: Assuming peoples genders is commonplace in Hotels, on planes & in public. This is very traumatic for trans people. The amount of times i've been mis-gendered consistently in luxury hotels, even when consistently correcting staff, is offensive. 

How can you support? Train staff that 'Sir' or 'Madam' are unnecessarily gendered to support the binaries that the patriarchy has put in place. Why do you need to greet someone based on assuming their gender? Cut the cr*p and just say Hello / good morning / good afternoon, heck even say Hello Gorgeous if you're cool. There's absolutely no need to attach a gender to greetings. Shout out to brands like The Standard, who do this beautifully.

3. Issue: Many Trans and NB people can't fly as their true genders, because of outdated documents like Passports and applying for jobs/sign on HR forms still only have Mr/Ms options. It makes travelling and applying for jobs an extremely stressful experience. For example on my passport it still says MR, and legally there is no option to change this to an X marker in the UK (representing Mx, my preffered prefix), meaning that i'm constantly misgendered from flight to hotel.

How can you support? Get in the habit of asking people their preferred pronouns at the point of booking. Add notes to your system. Update your outdated HR documents. Be better.

4. Issue: Trans people fear for their safety right now and whacking a pride flag on your website / hotel is not going to do much to change that. 

How can you support? Show the community that you care and be an ally. Promote queer artists, donate to trans charities, actively support the community. You can even provide your staff these epic dom&ink badges that highlight your team are allies and are safe people to be around (all proceeds go to Kaleidoscope trust). Also just maybe think twice before sending your LGBTQ+ staff to anti-lgbtq+ countries and also even selling those destinations in the first place? kthanks. You can also look at signing up with certified proud and holding your business accountable to supporting the community.

5. Issue: You're told that teaching about trans/LGBTQ+ issues is our way of turning your kids trans/queer. It's absolutely not. But as a result of a lack of LGBTQ+ history teaching your staff will likely be uneducated on all things LGBTQ+.

How can you support? Educate them. Here at Lightning we actively share content to staff to ensure they have the option to learn. Here's an amazing list of free content that you can share around your organisation.

- Getting Curious w Jonathan Van Ness - specifically episode 3, which is based on Non-Binary and will be an amazing watch for everyone (bring tissues) (Netflix)

- Disclosure (Netflix) - possibly the most essential viewing on trans issues out there (Netflix)

- Transitioning Teens - the struggle on transitioning (BBC iPlayer)

- Sex Education series 3 tackles so many gender issues beautifully (Netflix)

- Pray Away (Netflix) such a hot topic right now as the government refuses to ban conversion therapy for trans youth

- The death and life of Marsha P Johnson (Netflix) queer history at its finest.

- QForce is a new queer animated superhero series (Netflix)

- POSE is incredible queer viewing (BBC iPlayer)

- Heartstopper (Netflix) << just launched on Netflix

- It's a sin (Channel 4) 

Please do note though, these shows can be incredibly triggering, especially for queer people, so make sure you have a safe support network there to discuss any of the issues faced.

6. Issue: Y'all are happy to share a unisex plane toilet, but have been told that in general trans people choosing their bathroom puts your safety at risk. Toilets are a battleground for transgender rights, and let me tell you first hand...WE JUST WANT TO PEE. Choosing a bathroom is an incredibly stressful experience for the community and one that causes mass hysteria to the general cis-het public.

How can you support? Gender neutral bathrooms. Enough said.

Lastly - pronouns. Honestly if by now you're not utilising the pronouns feature on Linkedin & Instagram and your staff don't have their pronouns on their signatures then you can't be helped. This costs you nothing and you're essentially choosing violence if you're actively deciding not to do this.

At Lightning we'll continue to be the change we want to see and fighting for the trans community, as well as the wider LGBTQ+ community. If you are reading this blog and would like to speak to me about any issues covered then my door is always open and it's a safe and confidential space. You can email on: office@lightningtravelrecruitment.com 

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Chris King

24th April