LGBT Group Challenge Tesco Over Transphobic Abuse By Employee


According to Red Ribbon Project, the recent article in Sunday World highlighting the appalling practice of cyber bullying by a Tesco employee is indicative of a much wider problem. A community support worker at Red Ribbon Project stated, “People do not
behave like this at work if they are told not to behave like this. The fact that this individual felt it was not only reasonable to openly label others as “tranny” or “rat” but that he felt it ok to do so publicly, with images he has stolen during his worktime, proves that
neither establishment is effectively training their staff on definitions of bullying or harassment. It also suggests that the entire working environment is racist, degrading and phobic in nature”. 

Karen, a trans woman, told Red Ribbon Project that the incident was not isolated and that she feels targeted constantly when shopping in that particular Tesco store. She claimed that she was asked to be “less obvious” and refused entry into toilets. She said, “About 2 months ago I had to stop using Tesco and Arthur’s Quay. When I went in there I was treated as if I was a circus freak show, used for voyeuristic pleasures. Staff refuse to use the term ‘she’ to describe me in conversation. I have been able to challenge this with individual staff, but I have definitely heard male members of security refer to me as a ‘tranny’”.

Karen continued, “My experience as a customer is undermined. I am belittled and frequently joked about; sometimes to my face. When staff talk to me they comment upon me in a way that makes me feel less than human, less than equal. On more than one occasion I have been singled out and harassed by staff because of my gender expression. There is a pervasive transphobic atmosphere in both establishments.” 

Sharon, counselor at Red Ribbon Project said “The impact of this kind of humiliation can affect people deeply. As with all types of bullying, it can reduce people’s self confidence and trust in others and can undermine their sense of safety. Where this targeting is
ongoing, as is the case here, it can cause so much distress that it leaves the victims unable to respond, diminishing their sense of well being and sometimes leading to suicidal feelings”.

© 2013 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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