Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Transgender Woman Accuses Jobcenter of Discriminatory "Advice"

In England, Jobcentre Plus is a government agency which assists the unemployed in their search for jobs.  It also administers claims for benefits.

Apparently, some of Jobcenter's employees believe that a part of their job is also to pass judgement on transgendered individuals. 

Tina Cook has lodged a formal complaint with the Department of Work and Pensions, alleging that she was told she should dress as a man in order to find a job. 

Tina Cook
Tina lost her job in the construction industry one year ago. Until then, she had lived a dual life, as Andrew during the day at work and as Tina during her off hours at home. She decided to begin the transition process when she became unemployed and entered a program which requires her to live full-time as a woman or lose her benefits. If she were to take the Jobcenter's advice, she would have to withdraw from the program. 

"I’ve only recently summoned the courage to be the way I want. I have given up so much. My family don’t really talk to me and I have no friends. How can they expect me to give it up to get a job. It’s really insensitive." 

She reports that the employees at her local Jobcenter call her "Darling," and adds, "They wink at me and say it. I know they are making fun. I don’t go to the Jobcentre for disrespect and abuse. All I need to do for that is walk down the street or go into any pub. Someone will always say something, but I don’t expect it when I am trying to get off benefits and get back into work." 

Since becoming unemployed a year ago, Tina has been interviewed for various jobs about thirty times, mostly for cleaning or kitchen work. "I get the feeling when I go to the Jobcentre sometimes that they don’t want me there. When they see me, they try to make me go to interviews for waitressing jobs at posh restaurants, but my forearms are covered in tattoos. There is no chance I’d get those jobs." 

The Department for Work and Pensions has responded to the allegations, saying, "Jobcentre Plus is committed to treating all individuals fairly and equally. We will not tolerate discrimination and will take any allegations seriously. We are aware of this complaint and are investigating."