Do you know your rights?
Did you know that in certain situations, such as work, you can’t be treated unfairly compared to other people because you feel as though your sex is different to your birth sex? This is because Gender Reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.
“Gender reassignment” means that someone is proposing to change, is changing, or has changed, their physiological or other gender attributes, but doesn’t mean that they must have had specific treatment or surgery. Non-binary and gender fluid people are also covered by this protected characteristic.
This unfair treatment is called discrimination. There are several types of discrimination, including direct and indirect discrimination.
Direct discrimination is when you are treated worse than someone who is not transexual. For instance, if you were refused a promotion which meant you would have to deal with the public because your employer thought it would be embarrassing to have a transexual person dealing with clients.
Indirect discrimination is when an arrangement that affects everyone has an unfair effect on some people because they are transsexual. For instance, a school which asked all staff to bring in photos of themselves as children for the noticeboard would discriminate indirectly against transsexual employees who find it unpleasant for a photograph taken prior to transition to be displayed.
Harassment is another form of discrimination which is not allowed under equality law, and employers have a duty to protect their staff from harassment. This would include requiring other employees to treat transsexual colleagues with respect, for instance by referring to them using their preferred name and gender. However, it wouldn’t extend to requiring other employees to refrain from expressing the belief that people cannot change sex as part of a respectful discussion or outside work as part of the public debate about these issues.
It’s important to know and understand equality law, but it can be complex.