The following speech was given at the Radical 1st of May 2019 in Reykjavik by a representative of Trans Ísland.
Trans rights have certainly come a long way in the past decades. Going from being almost completely invisible in the eyes of the public, trans people in Iceland have achieved and are achieving some great things in terms of social acceptance and legal rights, including protection from discrimination in the workplace. But despite this positive shift trans people still struggle in the workplace, like many other disenfranchised groups.
While there is little research on the trans community in Iceland, many trans people in Iceland have negative stories to tell about the job market.
Research abroad shows us that employers are less likely to hire transgender people, and the experiences of trans people in Iceland reflect that. Trans people struggle to get work, especially those who are visibly trans or gender non-conforming. Trans people also report struggling a lot when they transition while working as they often face discrimination within their workplace.
We in Trans Ísland strongly feel that the fight for trans rights must be recognised a class struggle.
Right now prejudice and transphobia is hindering trans people from being able to participate in society in the same ways as many others, often leaving them marginalised, with less access to not only employment but also education and healthcare. This means that trans people are often accepting lower paying work or are engaging in sex work for survival and struggling to make ends meet.
As the fight for equality continues, unions must recognise that under their banner there is an array of disenfranchised groups that will never truly be freed from this class struggle until we deal with all systems of oppression that keep us marginalised. Solidarity between groups is essential if we want to eradicate poverty, classism and inequality.