One-third of Israelis unwilling to work, study with transgender people - poll

Two-thirds of Israelis feel that Israeli society is not tolerant of the trans community.

 Members of the LGBTQ+ community and supporters participate in a protest march in support of the transgender community, in Tel Aviv on July 22, 2018. (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Members of the LGBTQ+ community and supporters participate in a protest march in support of the transgender community, in Tel Aviv on July 22, 2018.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

A third of Israelis are unwilling to work or learn with transgender people and a quarter of businesses are unwilling to employ transgender people, according to a new poll published by Transgenders for Social Justice (Project Gila) and Google on Tuesday morning.

The poll was conducted by the Ipsos market research and public opinion company.

The survey also found that two-thirds of Israelis feel that Israeli society is not tolerant of the trans community. The widespread unwillingness of Israeli employers to employ transgender people comes despite all business that do employ transgender people reporting that they are satisfied with their performance at work.

According to the employers, the main blocks to employing transgender people are religious beliefs and fears about deterring other employees or customers.

Google and Project Gila have launched a campaign to support trans people in the workplace, with videos simulating Google searches such as "How do I tell people at work that I'm trans?" and emails between transgender people and other employees that show how to be accepting. The campaign is also putting up billboards around Israel reading "Making a space for everyone" with both the masculine and feminine forms of the words in Hebrew. [Hebrew is a language in which all words are gendered as either "zachar" (masculine) or "nekeivah" (feminine)]

Billboards in Tel Aviv reading ''Making a space for everyone'' with the Google search ''Project Gila for Transgender Empowerment'' (credit: Courtesy of Project Gila and Google)Billboards in Tel Aviv reading ''Making a space for everyone'' with the Google search ''Project Gila for Transgender Empowerment'' (credit: Courtesy of Project Gila and Google)

"Transphobia kills even when it comes in the form of discrimination and abuse in the labor market," said Bar Awasker Yitzhak, CEO of Project Gila. "This campaign is a reminder that the solution to our plight is in the hands of the entire Israeli society - let us earn a decent living with support in the workplace, even in the face of manifestations of transphobia, and save lives."

"Transphobia kills even when it comes in the form of discrimination and abuse in the labor market."

Bar Awasker Yitzhak, CEO of Project Gila

"Along with the disturbing data that our survey revealed, there is a bright spot - over 75% of Israelis are willing to accept and service transgender people and 100% of Israeli employers who employ transgender workers are satisfied with their performance at work and this is a call for more and more employers to learn about us and employ us," added Awasker Yitzhak.

"Our campaign places at its center a successful transgender woman because it was important to us to reflect the opportunities and potential of the trans community to integrate into the employment market," said Barak Regev, CEO of Google Israel.

"We entered into this partnership with the Gila Project out of a desire to learn for ourselves how we can improve and make Google a more accessible and respectful society for the trans community. We already offer a subsidy for gender reassignment surgery, a grant for surrogacy services and training for employees on the subject," added Regev. "This month, our teams will also undergo training from the Gila Project so that we can better employ, retain and promote people from the trans community."

Transgender employment 

In 2019, the chance of a transgender person being unemployed was six times higher than that of a non-transgender person, according to the Israeli Institute for Gender and LGBTQ+ Studies. Only a quarter of transgender people in Israel worked full time and half earned lower than minimum wage.

About 80% of the trans community were located in the bottom three deciles in the income distribution in Israel in 2019. Additionally, about 50% of transgender people in Israel have experienced physical violence at least once based on their gender identity and about 70% of the trans community experiences verbal abuse regularly.

"There is a direct and strong link between the levels of unemployment and poverty among members of the trans community and the high rates of suicide in it, with 4 out of 5 transgender people considering suicide, and about 40% even attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime," said Dr. Sigal Goldin of the Israeli Institute for Gender and LGBTQ+ Studies. "It is important that employers in the economy understand that hiring workers from the trans spectrum will not only benefit them with dedicated workers, but it can actually save lives."

In November, during Transgender Awareness Week, a first-of-its-kind survey carried out by the Geocartography Company and released by the Agudah's Israeli Institute for Gender and LGBTQ Studies and Project Gila found that 80% of Israelis said that it would be difficult or even impossible for them to accept knowing their child is transgender.

On the other hand, that survey found that 67% of Israelis said they would have no issue working with a transgender colleague.

About half of Israelis stated that they believe that there are only two genders which are set by biology. One out of every six Israelis knows a transgender person, with female Israelis tending to know more transgender people personally than men.