Another day, another horror story. This one about the Co-op. But I’m not sure that’s relevant. Over the last couple of years, i’ve had my own share of run-ins with the megacorps that make up UK financial services: Barclays, Lloyds, the Halifax, Zurich Insurance.
And because i write about this stuff and am prepared to help others out when they have issues, i’ve also taken up cases with Equifax, Experian, Barclays, Nationwide…the list seems never-ending. Has the time come for a Trans Finance Watch, along the lines of Trans Media Watch, to take on a sector of business that seems utterly – and persistently insensitive, discriminatory and…well, just plain hypocritical when it comes to dealing with the trans community?
I know. The world-weary response from some will be: is there any point? Abuse and subtle discrimination are pretty much par for the course if you’re trans. And besides, as i am sure most financial services will instantly object, its about “security”, so that makes it different.
Except, as i’ve argued time and time again. The latter is little more than a fig leaf. I’m not just a professional complainer: i’ve spent a fair chunk of my life working alongside the financial sector, held senior positions in it, and been directly responsible for setting up a fair few security procedures.
Load of bankers
I have a good idea of what works: and i have two mega-beefs when it comes to banks, building societies and the like. First, the arrogance: the smug way in which senior execs voice the s-word, at which point all argument is suppoed to cease.
Except most of them have never actually grappled with the detail of the issue. They aren’t aware that divorce certificates (which they demand from divorced women) carry no personal details – so aren’t really woth the paper they are written on when it comes to “proof”: they have little idea what it really takes to obtain a deed poll (or how footling a document it is). In other words, they claim “security” with not the least idea of how their practices relate to really putting security in place.
In the past, i have attempted to argue that current procedures are mostly discriminatory to trans and women customers. That cuts no ice. I am now shifting ground…and have an interesting case coming up soon where i have taken one company to the Financial Ombudsman for negligence – for claiming a process enhances security when it does nothing of the sort!
Government gets it right
Too, i have worked with government on these issues – most recently the Cabinet Office – and i am cheered by the discovery that most government departments actually have some very good procedures on this front: have actually looked at the issues; and aren’t making the vacuous noises that most in financial services do.
And while i do my best, if there is anyone else out there interested in giving a helping hand, maybe now is the time to take the initiative.
I love Trans Media Watch: am 100% supportive of what they are about. But as a working journalist, i think it would be improper of me to be intimately involved in what they do. So i stay arm’s length – even when, at times – i really, really would like to be more involved.
So this feels like a useful initiative.
Other question: should it be limited to trans discrimination? The issues that affect the trans community are also issues – around “proof” of identity – that affect non-trans women.
Thoughts, support, comment. All welcome.
The average trans man or woman faces enough discrimination in their day-to-day life
That’s a simple ask