Being transgender is pretty straightforward in the sense that we were born as the wrong gender, so we have to physically change it. However, the rights that protect us once we decide to become who we were meant to be aren’t as clear-cut.
In this post, we’ll outline some of the laws in place that protect us and give you some advice on what to do if you feel your rights have been violated.
Gender Recognition Act 2004
This Act is defined as:
An Act to make provision for and in connection with change of gender.
It then goes on to specify that an ‘acquired gender’ indicates a change of sex:
“Where a full gender recognition certificate is issued to a person, the person’s gender becomes for all purposes the acquired gender (so that, if the acquired gender is the male gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a man and, if it is the female gender, the person’s sex becomes that of a woman).”
This essentially gives you the legal right to be recognised as the gender you transitioned to. If someone doesn’t do this at work, for example, this gives you the right to challenge them, legally if necessary.
Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 specifies the reassignment of ‘sex,’ not gender, even though the ‘protected characteristic’ is gender reassignment. The ‘process’ of reassignment is undefined, as are the ‘other attributes’ of sex apart from the physiological:
“A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.”
The Act defines the protected characteristics of ‘gender reassignment’ as in reference to a transsexual person, and ‘sex’ as in reference to a ‘man’ or ‘woman’ although these terms are redefined as denoting ‘gender’ in the Collecting Information on Gender Identity document 2012 (above).
“In relation to the protected characteristic of gender reassignment – a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a transsexual person”
“In relation to the protected characteristic of sex— a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a man or to a woman”
This act protects you…well is supposed to protect you, from discrimination for being transgender in pretty much any scenario.
This means all types of discrimination:
This means treating people differently based on a specific characteristic. For example, a promotion comes up at your workplace but your employer believes that (for some reason) transgender people are emotionally unable to handle more responsibility so you’re passed over for the promotion when you’re actually well suited to the job. If this happens you can file a complaint with your HR department or the police.
This can happen when an organisation puts a rule, policy or a way of doing things in place which has a negative impact on someone with particular circumstances. For example, if a property developer is planning to redevelop some of its housing but asks that all tenants verify their gender It decides to hold consultation events in the evening. Many of the female residents complain that they cannot attend these meetings because of childcare responsibilities.
This means people cannot treat you in a way that violates your dignity, or creates a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. For example, a transgender man visits a pub with friends. The bar staff then make derogatory and offensive comments about him, which upset and offend him. If this happens to you, you can file a police complaint.
This means people cannot treat you unfairly if you are taking action under the Equality Act (like making a complaint of discrimination), or if you are supporting someone else who is doing so. For example, if you legally challenge someone for violating your rights as a transgender person under the Equality Act, and someone else ridicules you or abuses you in any way because of this, they are violating your rights.
The Human Rights Act 1998
The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to. It incorporates the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic British law. The Human Rights Act came into force in the UK in October 2000.
The Human Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate on a wide range of grounds including ‘sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status’.
The case law relating to this right has shown that the term ‘other status’ includes sexual orientation, illegitimacy, marital status, trade union membership, transsexual status and imprisonment. It can also be used to challenge discrimination on the basis of age or disability.
Similar to the Equality Act 2010 this makes it illegal for anyone to discriminate against you for being transgender.
If you’re unsure about what your rights are in certain situations you can make an appointment with to speak to one of our team. We’re not legal professionals but we have quite likely gone through a similar problem as you and can give you some general advice on how to solve it.
Or you could check out the following websites for more information:
As always, if you’re cisgender, know someone who is transgender who is being discriminated against, please direct them to our website or the ones mentioned above. Thank you in advance 🙂
We hope that you never have to use the information in this post, however, the harsh reality is that you will probably need it at some point in your life.
Until next time darling,
The GI COLLECTION team