A US study based on data collected from 64 transgendered workers found that* trans women’s pay fell by around a third following their transition, while trans men saw their pay increase slightly. Trans women were also more likely to experience discrimination in other areas of the workplace, while some trans men felt more accepted in their new perceived gender:
“My transition went extremely smoothly,” one female-to-male, blue-collar worker told the researchers. “I was shocked at how smooth. No one even talks about it and it had no effect on my pay. If anything, I have been better accepted at work because people don’t see me as a [slur for a lesbian] like before.”
Trans man Dr Ben Barres’ experience neatly illustrates this phenomenon:
Ben Barres, a female-to-male transgender neuroscientist at Stanford, found that his work was more highly valued after his gender transition. “Ben Barres gave a great seminar today,” a colleague of his reportedly said, “but then his work is much better than his sister’s.”
Dr. Barres, of course, doesn’t have a sister in academia.
So sexism’s alive and kicking in the workplace: no surprise there. But the study, while only small, does make it quite clear that the pay gap cannot be simply explained away by women’s “choices” to be a mother or to work in certain sectors – choices that, as we well know, only result in lower pay due to the continuation of the traditional male-centric employment and value systems. Women are still suffering outright discrimination, and men – even trans men, some of whom doubtless face transphobic discrimination in the workplace – still enjoy preferential treatment.
*Apologies for the crappy article title, *cringe*.