A photo of Arlo in front of the trans flag

Being trans in the creative industries

Posted on April 20, 2022

Curated by Arlo, trainee communications assistant at Creative Access.

At Creative Access, we believe it’s important to uplift and support the trans people around you. We asked trans people working in the creative industries for their opinions, concerns and advice about being trans in the workplace.

As a creative person do you think being trans influences your creativity?

Arlo: Being trans definitely influences my creative side, you will always find references and inspiration to queer culture through my work. I think that’s down to the sense of safety and community I am fortunate enough to have found in queer spaces.

Loke: I definitely think being trans influences my creativity (and vice versa). For me a large element of my creativity is about the making process – which I feel draws parallels to the way being trans is about making yourself.

What can a workplace do to support their trans workers? Has your workplace supported you or what would you want them to do differently?

Arlo: Workplaces can do a lot to support their trans employees such as pronoun pins/email sign offs, gender neutral bathrooms, sanitary products in both men’s and women’s bathrooms, offering legal and preferred name boxes on forms and documentation/systems. Advocating for their employees would be really helpful too in terms of customer/client interactions and educating staff.

Loke: I think a good way to support trans workers is to ask that all staff include their pronouns on email signatures or zoom profiles, so it becomes a normalised thing. It’s also useful to have open space for conversation about being trans (but not asking invasive questions unprompted of course.) Perhaps in some cases if a workplace is in the space to aid a trans person to get corrected documents or other things, that support would be really lovely too.

How can co-workers support and advocate for the trans people they work with?

Arlo: Co-workers can best advocate for their trans colleagues by asking them and checking with them how they’d like to be referred and defending/correcting others even in the absence of their trans colleagues.

Loke: Co-workers specifically both listening to the trans people they work with, and being willing to do their own research, sets a really good basis for allyship. In a customer service front, correcting customers on pronouns can also be really good.

What is some advice you’d give to trans people on how to navigate the workplace?

Arlo: Every trans person navigates the workplace in a different way. Some people choose to go stealth (a person who passes as their desired gender and doesn’t share that they are trans with others) at work and some don’t. I personally would only discuss trans issues with people I know I would be safe to do so with. Having people around me in my work environment that can and do advocate for me in my absence and presence is so important for me as sometimes I do not always have the emotional capacity to continuously correct others when they get my pronouns wrong or misgender me.

Loke: I think it’s good, if you’re confident enough, to actually mention and ask about how being trans will be in the workplace when being interviewed. It can keep you potentially from taking on a job you might not feel safe at. I’d also say take it in small steps once you’re in the workplace. I knew my co-workers were all safe, but I was still reading what level of things I could share.

 Do you feel the creative industries is a good career choice for trans people? If so, why? 

Arlo: I have found the creative industries to be the largest gathering of queer and trans individuals – so much more so than any other field. The industry, while still dominated by men, is much more saturated with like-minded and open people who create a safe and comfortable environment to flourish in.

Loke: I think the creative industries are a good place because generally speaking it attracts more accepting people/other lgbt+ folk – which just works out to make it a safer place. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that it can be a tough sector in terms of salaries – which I’m acutely aware is a troublesome issue from many for trans folk.

Are there specific challenges or opportunities for trans people in the creative industries?

Arlo: Personally, I haven’t encountered many challenges as a trans person, but I have encountered many opportunities for myself and other minorities, such as minority-specific communities/workshops that help people connect with each other and network with others in the industry.

Loke: I think there are definitely opportunities opening up in the creative industries for trans people. People want to see themselves represented more within art and media and it’s better to hire a trans person to make art/content reflecting trans people than asking others to do so. I know some artists who help illustrate for trans-specific educational sources; stuff like that is definitely popping up more and more.