Tina Cook (nee Andrew) has been transitioning from male to female for a year, after years of dressing as a woman. Tina, from Durham, England, has known since age six she was living in the wrong body. And after spending her entire life working in the construction industry, she was laid off some 18 months ago. Facing unemployment, she hit up the neighborhood unemployment office. Where she was told to start dressing like a man.
After being made redundant from her construction job 18 months ago, Ms Cook began to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. When she was at the Jobcentre in Darlington last week, she says she was advised to go back to dressing like a man for interviews if she wanted to improve her chances of securing a job.
“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,” said Ms Cook. “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.” … She added: “I don’t go to the Jobcentre to get disrespect and abuse. All I need to do for that is walk down any street or go into any pub. Somebody will always say something, but I don’t expect it when I am trying to get off benefits and get back into work. I suppose it is just something I have to deal with.”
Moreover, Tina, who has some three years of operations and treatments left to fully transition, must continue dressing as a woman to be eligible for gender reassignment; patients must live as their intended sex for at least a year before a credentialed doctor will perform surgery. Even Tina’s wife Vaudine, whom no longer lives with her legal husband, feels for her: “It is so insensitive for them to suggest this. They do not know the repercussions it could have, not only on Tina, but also on me. I grieved for my husband and have long since said goodbye to him. It would knock me sideways seeing Tina dressing as Andrew. It is a ridiculous thing to ask.” So Tina has filed a complaint, and a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman says, “Jobcentre Plus is committed to treating all individuals fairly and equally. We will not tolerate discrimination and will take any allegations seriously. We are aware of this complaint and are investigating.”