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Equality monitoring

Why is it necessary to collect information about transgender equality?

Fairness and Freedom: The Final Report of the Equalities Review in 2007 came to the conclusion that “Poor measurement and a lack of transparency have contributed to society and governments being unable to tackle persistent inequalities and their causes.”


Trans Equality Monitoring front cover

If carried out correctly, monitoring transgender equality can help you to understand the needs of your transgender service users and staff – it can help to make sure that the service you are providing is fit for purpose and that it is effective and efficient. It can help you identify areas for improvement and demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to the principles of the Equality Act 2010, especially the requirements of the Public Sector Duty.

However, the number of transgender people is not currently known accurately and many transgender people are extremely wary of revealing that they are transgender. Therefore it is important to think very carefully about using a range of different methods to collect information about transgender equality. Remember that you can monitor  progress without necessarily trying to count the numbers of individual transgender service users or employees you have. Headcounts of the number trans people you serve or employ are not the only thing – or even the most important thing – to monitor to check your organisation’s progress on transgender equality.

Other matters that can and should be monitored (either alongside headcounts or instead of headcounts) include:

  • Progress against transgender equality action points in your equality scheme action plans or equality outcomes;
  • Types and outcomes of service provision complaints;
  • Take up and outcomes of staff grievance and harassment procedures;
  • Impact of staff equalities training and the amount of transgender equality inclusion within such training;
  • Staff and service user attitudes towards transgender equality and rights;
  • Information from departing service users and staff about why they are leaving;
  • Language used in internal and external communications;
  • Internal and external image of the service;
  • Number of requests to change gender on staff or service user records.

Download a Practical Guide to monitoring the number of transgender people who use your service or the number of transgender people you employ including : information on secure data collection; examples of recommended  questions; and how to analyse and present results. 

How do equality organisations currently use the terms transgender/trans, gender identity and gender reassignment?

The Yogyakarta Principles provide the most widely agreed definition of the term gender identity:

“each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms.”

The terms transgender and trans are both widely used by equality organisations to refer to the diverse range of people who find their gender identity does not fully correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth.

The term transsexual is used in the Equality Act 2010 to refer specifically to the sub-set of trans people who share the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. According to the Equality Act 2010, 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 Equality Act 2010 makes it clear that gender reassignment does not need to involve any medical supervision or surgical procedures; it could simply involve a permanent change of the social gender role in which the person lives their life, (for example through a permanent change of name and dress).

When considering whether to just monitor transsexual equality or to monitor transgender/trans equality in its most inclusive sense, it is important to remember that while the Equality Act 2010 only uses the term gender reassignment within its list of protected characteristics, rather than the more inclusive term of gender identity, it none-the-less provides protection to people who are still at the earliest stage of just proposing to undergo future gender reassignment as well as to anyone perceived or otherwise associated with the concept of gender reassignment. Also organisations such as the United Nations and the Council of Europe have already adopted the use of the wider terms of gender identity and transgender/trans. Therefore, best practice is for organisations to conduct monitoring in a fully inclusive manner which respects the wide diversity of all types of transgender and transsexual people.