Transphobia, Cultural Intelligence & Empathy

For the June edition of our Towards Utopia newsletter we asked Charlie Craggs to write her view on Cultural Intelligence. Charlie’s experiences and advice below are total gold – thank you Charlie!

Tired of the transphobia I faced in my everyday life, five years ago I started Nail Transphobia as a way to change the narrative. I knew it was often because people are uneducated that they don’t understand and wanted to do my bit to help build knowledge. Most people haven’t met a trans person but have misconceptions about trans people. I knew that if people had the chance to sit down and have a chat with a trans person it would help them understand and more importantly see that there’s not much to understand.

I now spend more and more time working with businesses and believe that for a leader to be a good leader they must be educated on different communities and cultures. Why? Because they will meet someone from these communities in the work environment, be it an employee or a customer, and need to understand the nuances of their lived experiences.

To get super specific, there are three reasons I believe cultural intelligence is important:

  1. So you know what not to say / what to say , ie not saying something really offensive which will both upset the person and could even require HR to get involved. Or something slightly offensive, a micro aggression like asking a black person if you can touch their hair etc., which will damage the organisations culture.
  2. So you can act accordingly when someone else in the workplace does or says something offensive like this, and is also able to recognise it before the victim comes to complain about it (whether it be subtle micro micro aggressions or blatant transphobia.)
  3. So they can lead by example, being both a role model and an ally, fostering an accepting environment and inclusive culture.

And it’s not like it’s hard to build cultural intelligence! You can read articles and books from authors from those communities or follow people on social media who make content relating to those communities. Educating doesn’t mean asking marginalised people who are tired of answering a million basic questions about their identity another million questions, ask google instead, it has probably got the answer.

And if you want to go deeper, there’s loads of ways to experience different cultures. By reading and following literature / people from these communities you’ll hear about things like protests and celebrations you can go to and experience. By immersing yourself in different cultures you’ll get a deeper understanding and with this comes empathy.