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Trans woman forced to leave her job after co-worker refused to stop using her dead name

Patrick Kelleher March 22, 2021
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Kayte Osborne trans

Kayte Osborne was deadnamed in the workplace. (Stock image/Envato Elements)

A trans woman was forced to leave her job after a co-worker insistently deadnamed her and refused to use her correct pronouns in the workplace.

Kayte Osborne had been working at Storage Box in Albany in Auckland, New Zealand, for more than three years when she decided to leave because of her colleague’s behaviour.

She told Stuff.co.nz that she came out as trans to her colleagues around a year ago, telling them that her name was Kayte and her pronouns were she and her.

While most of Kayte’s co-workers were accepting, one woman refused to use her correct name, and even made anti-trans comments while Kayte was present.

“This woman refused to call me Kayte and would constantly use my dead name instead,” Oborne told Stuff.

“In response to my preferred pronouns, she told me she would call me ‘it’ instead.”

Trans woman felt ‘nobody cared’ about workplace abuse

The situation quickly escalated from bad to worse, with the colleague saying on one occasion that she didn’t believe it was possible to be trans.

Osborne eventually worked up the courage to approach the store’s owner to speak about the mistreatment – however, her boss responded by defending the colleague.

“I felt like I’ve been forced to leave,” Osborne said.

“I contacted the head office of Storage Box and was told everyone was entitled to their opinion.”

Osborne said she never received an apology for the mistreatment, leaving her feeling that “nobody really cared” she was upset.

Grant Morse, general manager of Storage Box, told Stuff.co.nz that they are in “ongoing discussions with both the employee and business owner”.

“It’s a complex matter. As such, I have no comment to make at this stage,” Morse said.

Trans people often face challenges in the workplace not faced by their cis counterparts.

According to a recent survey conducted by Totaljobs in collaboration with YouGov, two in three trans people in the UK hide their identity in the workplace, marking a sharp rise from five years ago when just over half of all trans people had disclosed their identity to colleagues and their employer.

The survey of 410 trans people also found that one in three trans people had experienced discrimination in the workplace in the last five years because of their identity, while 32 per cent had experienced bullying or insults.

Some 27 per cent had been deadnamed and 32 per cent said colleagues had deliberately used the wrong pronouns when referring to them.

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