A U.K. transgender woman says she was told by her local employment
office that her chances of finding work would improve if she dressed as a
Eighteen months ago, Andrew Cook was laid off from a
construction job and began collecting unemployment benefits. Last
February, Cook—who has felt like a female since age 6 and has been
cross-dressing for decades—started gender-reassignment treatment and
began living as Tina.
Cook, 54, alleges that last week at the
Darlington Jobcentre she was advised to dress like a man for interviews
to increase her chances of finding work.
“I have been living in
the wrong body for 53 years and have only recently summoned up the
courage to be the way I want,” she told The Northern Echo.
“I have given up so much for this. My family don’t really talk to me
and I have no friends. How can they expect me to give it up to get a
job? I think it is really insensitive.”
According to the terms of
her treatment, Cook—who is only a quarter of the way through the
reassignment process—must dress and present herself as a woman to avoid
being dropped from the program.
Emma Roebuck, joint project
coordinator at Gay Advice Darlington, called the Jobcentre’s advice
“unprofessional,” saying that “people need help and support through this
process. If you have a Government agency saying you are never going to
get a job dressing like that, then they are effectively saying you are a
A spokesman for the U.K. Department for Work and
Pensions said the Jobcentre is committed to providing fair treatment to
all individuals and that the incident is under investigation.
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