IT specialist and transgender
Ninna Fedder Køhrsen’s fear of being made redundant when she told her boss at Danske Bank that she was transgender turned out to be unfounded. Now she encourages other trans people in the sector to stand up for who they are.
As a student assistant at Danske Bank, she was a man. The stress of writing her thesis at the IT University of Copenhagen was what really got her thinking about changing gender. In 2011, when she had become a permanent member of the bank as an IT specialist, and had been undergoing hormone therapy for some time, she wrote to her boss at the time and said that she was transgender and was in the process of changing gender.
“I was living a bit of a double life as a man at work and a woman in my private life, which was not good for me. It’s not pleasant to hide who you are. On the other hand, I was afraid I could be made redundant if I came forward and said I was transgender. Many trans people have experienced this in the past”, says Ninna Fedder Køhrsen. She points out that being transgender was legally considered a psychiatric diagnosis for personality disorder all the way up to 2017.
Support from management and colleagues
Her boss reacted positively to the email and supported Ninna. Shortly before Christmas 2011, she stood up at a meeting in front of all her colleagues and told them that she was transgender. The timing of the meeting was carefully planned so that the name change and employee card etc. would be changed during the Christmas holidays and be ready for the new year.
“The meeting was a good experience. I don’t remember any negative response from my colleagues at all and I felt safe coming forward because I had the management’s support”, says Ninna.
“The first few years, there were a few people who had difficulty remembering my real name and gender, which was a little annoying, but I’m sure wasn’t on purpose.”
Ninna has been employed in Danske Bank as an IT specialist for 11 years and is very happy with her work and the social relations with her colleagues.
After 10 years of medical treatment, Ninna’s appearance is that of a woman, and people who meet her on the street would have a hard time telling that she used to be a man.
“In the past, I have experienced being shouted at and pushed on the street, but now I can avoid a lot of that and choose to say that I am a trans person if I want to”, says Ninna.
Her identity is not just being a trans person
She is now appearing in the press with her own name and photo for the first time, because she wants to pave the way for other trans people in the financial sector to show who they really are.
“I don’t want to be a spokesperson for trans people in general. My identity shouldn’t just be that I am transgender. It am an IT specialist and very happy with my work, just like many others”, Ninna explains, who only recently met other transgender people at Danske Bank.
She has joined the Board of Directors of the Danske Rainbow Network. The network, which was established on 30 January 2020, has over 300 members who are either LGBTQ+ or allies – that is, employees in the bank who support inclusion and diversity in the bank.
Ninna Fedder Køhrsen has helped formulate a guide for managers and employees at Danske Bank on how to treat and support people at work.
“We want to be clear that we want to be an open and inclusive workplace. This applies to all employees. We are well aware that this likely only has to do with a few employees, but on the other hand it will have a rather large impact on those employees”, said HR Director Karsten Breum to Børsen at the publication of the guide at the end of March as part of International Transgender Day of Visibility.
The term “trans person” is a short form of saying a person is transgender.
According to LGBT Danmark, being transgender means that the person has a gender identity that is more or less not in accordance with the biological sex they were assigned at birth.