Mis-gendering trans people can cause a great deal of distress and embarrassment to all those involved. This can happen in any interaction, but is most likely during telephone conversations because there are no visual clues to assist. How do organisations that conduct at least some of their business by telephone ensure that all their customers are treated with respect and courtesy?
Beaumont Society member, Lindsay Dearman, took a great deal of trouble to contact 100 large businesses and public and private bodies – including a number of Members of Parliament – hoping to find examples of good practice of how these organisations train their staff who deal with the public through telephone conversations. We had hoped that these organisations would be so proud of their progressive and inclusive policies that we would be able to share the best practice with all relevant organisations throughout the country to the benefit of everyone.
Sadly, the results of the survey – which are published in the latest issue of the Beaumont Society’s members’ magazine – were a big disappointment. Only 19 of those contacted took the trouble to reply and of those some had not actually made the effort to read the survey – regretting that they were unable to help with our “fund-raising”! We were definitely not fund-raising. All we were trying to find out was whether the staff were given any instructions or guidelines for dealing with voices that did not match the stereotype for the person’s gender, and if so, what training or guidance was provided.We were also interested to know if they received any complaints about mis-gendering and what the policy for dealing with any complaints might be.
The Beaumont Society would still love to hear of examples of good practice that we could publicise to everyone’s benefit. If anyone knows of such good practice please contact our President, Jane Hamlin: firstname.lastname@example.org. Should you know of organisations that are insensitive to these issues, we would also like to hear about them so that we can draw their attention to the good practice.