Happy International Day of Transgender Visibility! + Resources for Your Inclusive Journey

Today, 31 March, Oxfam is celebrating the achievements and contributions of transgender colleagues, partners and friends worldwide, as well as recognising and speaking out against the discrimination faced by the transgender community. Here are four reasons why this is so important:

1. Trans rights are human rights

We believe everyone has the human right to freedom of gender identity and expression. Because we’re not safe until all of us are safe. We believe respect for human rights will help lift people out of poverty and injustice.

We fully affirm the right of all people to freedom of gender identity and expression, and we will do everything we can to ensure that this right is respected and upheld within our organisation and through our work. There must be no place in Oxfam for transphobia.”

The Senior Leadership Team, Oxfam GB

The trans flag with trans rights are human rights written on it

Understanding sex and gender

  • Sex refers to “the different biological and physiological characteristics of males and females, such as reproductive organs, chromosomes, hormones, etc.
  • These sex characteristics can vary and some people have biological attributes of both sexes or have biological attributes that do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female (i.e. people who are intersex).
  • Gender refers to "the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men.
  • A person’s innate sense of their own gender may or may not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth, for example, trans men and women and non-binary people
  • We believe everyone has the human right to freedom of gender identity and expression. Because we’re not safe until all of us are safe.

Gender identity and biological sex are two very separate things... biological sex is what you're physically born as, and it's what the doctor assigns you as when you are born... right?...Trans people agree that biological sex exists. Trans inclusionists know that biological sex exists. They just also know that gender identity exists as well.”

Shaaba Lotun, Creator and Researcher.

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A pair of hands holding up the trans symbol

2. We oppose discrimination

Oxfam works to tackle discrimination and inequality, whether on the basis of race, sex, gender or sexuality. We take an intersectional approach – recognising the way that different identities and inequalities interact to create unique experiences, of both oppression and privilege.

On our journey to becoming anti-racist in everything that we do, we will work to put the experiences of black trans people at the centre, and always recognise the role that race plays in the experiences of gender.

‘Equality’ must include everyone or it is not equality. For this reason, our commitment to gender equality includes trans people.

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Some statistics

Discrimination, stigmatisation and exclusion mean that trans and gender non-conforming people are more likely to live in poverty, experience unemployment, homelessness, and mental health issues, to be victims of violence, lack access to healthcare, or to be forced into sex work that can put them at risk. Black trans people, who have always been at the forefront of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement, experience intersecting discrimination and harm and must not be forgotten in our anti-racist commitment.”

The Oxfam GB LGBT+ Network and supporters

3. It’s part of Oxfam’s own journey of change

We know we are at the start of our own journey of trans inclusion; we have sometimes made mistakes and have much more to do. There must be no place in Oxfam for transphobia and we are committed to creating a culture which is fully inclusive and consistent with our values. Our places of work should be safe and respectful spaces.

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A rainbow progress flag flying with blue sky in the background

We believe that the existence and rights of trans people takes nothing away from the very important work we as an organisation are doing with regards to combatting discrimination based on sex and is very relevant to work that relates to gender identity. We are also quite clear on the difference between sex and gender.”

The Oxfam GB LGBT+ Network and supporters

4. We want to use our platform to make space for our trans colleagues, partners and friends

We are learning all the time from those of us who bring lived experience to their work driving social change.

Helen Wishart

An electricity box with setncil art on it that says trans happiness is real

A woman can be masculine, a woman can be trans, a woman can be intersex... a woman can be whatever she identifies as. It doesn't make her any less of a woman. I'm just excited for people to realise that the gender conversation involves everyone, not just trans people.”

And some resources!