Trans people in employment: An exploratory study using an occupational therapy approach to promote change in workplace environment
Background: Occupational therapy is focused on enabling people to participate in the tasks that they need, want or have to do. Occupational therapists work with people to adapt tasks or environments so that they can lead the lives that they want to. The need for task or environmental adaptation may occur after a change in life circumstance. Trans individuals are those that have changed from one gender to another, as result of this change they may struggle to participate in the activities that they need, want or have to do. Trans people have higher rates of unemployment than those who have not changed gender. Purpose: A review of the literature illustrates that work environments are not meeting the needs of trans employees. The following study proposal suggests that the use of an occupational therapy approach may facilitate a richer understanding of the facilitators and barriers to engagement in work for trans individuals and promote environmental change to improve their experiences and participation in employment. Method: Utilising the aid of a lesbian, gay and transgender charity, twelve trans individuals with experience of employment in the UK will be recruited to take part in the study. Participants will be individually interviewed about their employment experiences and what has helped and hindered their ability to work as a trans person. Changes that would improve working environment for trans individuals will be deliberated. Follow up focus groups will enable participants to further discuss their experiences with each other and review data collected from the interviews. Implications: It is expected that the findings of this study will confirm that trans employees face barriers to participation in work and that an occupational therapy approach may be of benefit to promoting change in the work environment to break these. It is hoped that further research may focus on practical implementation of the findings through larger scale projects with employers.