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Overview

After several years of work and the input of many interested individuals, groups and organisations, the UK passed the Equality Act  2010.  As at the end of 2012, this legislation has been fully implemented throughout the UK.

With this legislation the UK Government aims to simplify, modernise and increase the effectiveness of equality legislation.

Under the Equality Act gender reassignment is a protected characteristic, which means those who posses the characteristic are protected from discrimination by the legislation.

The Act covers people who are proposing to undergo, currently undergoing or have undergone a process (or part of a process) of gender reassignment. The act makes it clear that it is not necessary for people to have any medical diagnosis or treatment to gain this protection; it is a personal process of moving away from one’s birth gender to one’s self-identified gender. A person remains protected, even if they decide not to proceed further with transitioning.

In regards to transgender equality the Act provides the following:

  • ‘Gender reassignment’ is named as an explicit protected characteristic, alongside age, disability, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
  • The requirement for medical supervision to take place as part of a process of ‘gender reassignment’ has been removed so someone who simply changes the gender role in which they live without ever going to see a doctor is protected.
  • All the main protections which already existed for gender reassignment are carried over from the previous Sex Discrimination Act legislation – e.g. protection from gender reassignment discrimination in employment and goods and services. The previously existing exceptions are also carried over.
  • The Equality Act offers new protection from discrimination due to association with transgender people or perception as a transgender person.
  • It also offers new protection from indirect discrimination because of gender reassignment.
  • The public sector equality duty is extended to more fully include gender reassignment as one of the specific protected characteristics for which public bodies must take due regard of: the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation; the need to promote equality; and the need to promote good relations.
  • Protection is provided for gender reassignment discrimination in education.

We continue to call for the protected characteristic to be widened in the future to ‘gender identity’ rather than ‘gender reassignment’ in order to be more clearly inclusive of those transgender people who do not identify as transsexual and do not intend to change the gender in which they live. It is also currently unclear whether intersex people are protected under the act and so it should be amended to explicitly provide them with protection from discrimination. We also continue to call for various anomalies regarding the gender reassignment discrimination and harassment protections in the Equality Act 2010 to be resolved (such as how insurance premiums are calculated for transsexual people, the lack of harassment protection for trans people in school education, and in terms of occupational requirements and single sex service provision).

It must also be noted that the Equality Act 2010 does not resolve some of the ongoing problems with the Gender Recognition Act 2004, such as the requirement to submit detailed psychiatric diagnosis reports in order to access the basic human right to have your gender identity recognised.  We are pleased to report that the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act 2014 addressed the issue of transgender marriages and civil partnerships.  Further information on this can be found on our completed work pages.

Equality Act 2010

After several years of work and the input of many interested individuals, groups and organisations, the UK passed the Equality Act  2010.  As at the end of 2012, this legislation has been fully implemented throughout the UK.

With this legislation the UK Government aims to simplify, modernise and increase the effectiveness of equality legislation.

Under the Equality Act gender reassignment is a protected characteristic, which means those who posses the characteristic are protected from discrimination by the legislation.

The Act covers people who are proposing to undergo, currently undergoing or have undergone a process (or part of a process) of gender reassignment. The act makes it clear that it is not necessary for people to have any medical diagnosis or treatment to gain this protection; it is a personal process of moving away from one’s birth gender to one’s self-identified gender. A person remains protected, even if they decide not to proceed further with transitioning.

In regards to transgender equality the Act provides the following:

  • ‘Gender reassignment’ is named as an explicit protected characteristic, alongside age, disability, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
  • The requirement for medical supervision to take place as part of a process of ‘gender reassignment’ has been removed so someone who simply changes the gender role in which they live without ever going to see a doctor is protected.
  • All the main protections which already existed for gender reassignment are carried over from the previous Sex Discrimination Act legislation – e.g. protection from gender reassignment discrimination in employment and goods and services. The previously existing exceptions are also carried over.
  • The Equality Act offers new protection from discrimination due to association with transgender people or perception as a transgender person.
  • It also offers new protection from indirect discrimination because of gender reassignment.
  • The public sector equality duty is extended to more fully include gender reassignment as one of the specific protected characteristics for which public bodies must take due regard of: the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation; the need to promote equality; and the need to promote good relations.
  • Protection is provided for gender reassignment discrimination in education.

We continue to call for the protected characteristic to be widened in the future to ‘gender identity’ rather than ‘gender reassignment’ in order to be more clearly inclusive of those transgender people who do not identify as transsexual and do not intend to change the gender in which they live. It is also currently unclear whether intersex people are protected under the act and so it should be amended to explicitly provide them with protection from discrimination. We also continue to call for various anomalies regarding the gender reassignment discrimination and harassment protections in the Equality Act 2010 to be resolved (such as how insurance premiums are calculated for transsexual people, the lack of harassment protection for trans people in school education, and in terms of occupational requirements and single sex service provision).

It must also be noted that the Equality Act 2010 does not resolve some of the ongoing problems with the Gender Recognition Act 2004, such as the requirement to submit detailed psychiatric diagnosis reports in order to access the basic human right to have your gender identity recognised.  We are pleased to report that the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act 2014 addressed the issue of transgender marriages and civil partnerships.  Further information on this can be found on our completed work pages.

Inappropriate questions

Inappropriate questioning is anything that is of a higher level of intimacy than questions you would ask a person who is not transgender.  For example, it would be inappropriate in general conversation to ask a man you didn’t know very well about the size and shape of his penis, or to ask a woman you only knew a little whether or not she wore a wig or a padded bra. Therefore, it is also completely inappropriate to quiz transgender people about their bodies.  It is also very impolite to ask transgender people what previous first names they might have had or what they used to look like.  Don’t let any natural curiosity about trans people override your usual politeness and sensitivity.

Organisations often wonder if they should ask trans employees or service users whether or not they have a Gender Recognition Certificate.  The Scottish Transgender Alliance is strongly of the view that there are only a very limited number of occasions when it would be acceptable to ask about someone’s gender recognition status or to ask to see their birth certificate.  The occasions where it would be appropriate to ask about gender recognition or to see someone’s birth certificate are:

  • where a job is restricted to a single sex/gender as a occupational requirement under Schedule 9, Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010 and therefore the legal sex/gender of an applicant determines whether or not they can be employed in the post;
  • where the calculations in regard to pensions or benefits differ depending on the legal gender/sex of the person;
  • where the person is applying to a registrar’s office to get a marriage or civil partnership.

It is good practice for all other aspects of employment or service provision to treat all trans people in accordance with the gender in which they live their lives.  This should be regardless of whether or not someone has a formal Gender Recognition Certificate.  If they live permanently in their acquired gender and therefore have their day to day identification documents (such as their bank cards, drivers licence or passport) in their acquired name and gender then that is all that an employer or service provider usually should need to know.  Just treat them as their acquired gender in all such cases without asking about gender recognition.  Some people will have undergone gender reassignment many years ago before it was possible to get a Gender Recognition Certificate and may not even know that such certificates exist, let alone how to apply.  Even when they do know about the Gender Recognition Act, some long-term transitioned people may not be able to get the necessary medical evidence assembled if the doctors who helped them to transition are now retired.  Other people might not have the literacy skills necessary to complete the paperwork needed to get a Gender Recognition Certificate.  Finally, people who are in existing marriages or civil partnerships are unable to get Gender Recognition without first ending their legal marriage or civil partnership so may decide not to apply. It is how people live their day to day lives which is the important consideration.

Resources

This page lists all the downloadable documents currently available on the site.

 

Gender overview

When a child is born, a doctor or midwife takes a quick glance at the baby’s genitals and declares the baby a boy or a girl accordingly (unless the doctor or midwife notices during their quick glance that the baby is intersex…). But in day-to-day social situations, we don’t flash our genitals at each other! Instead, we determine the gender of other people in the first seconds of meeting by unconsciously observing and analysing a huge number of different gender-associated cues like clothes, body shape, voice, face shape, mannerisms and behaviour. We also signal our own gender using these cues. For the majority of people, these different gender-associated cues all match up closely with the gender they actually identify as, but for a minority not everything matches up as expected.

It can feel uncomfortable and difficult to suddenly try to think in depth about something usually determined easily without any conscious thought. But a useful way to think about gender without causing too much of a headache is to use the diagram shown below. It helps you to think about the differences between gender identity and expression, sex assigned at birth, and sexual and romantic attraction.

Gender Unicorn

 

Throughout history, small but significant numbers of people have found that their sex assigned at birth, gender identities and gender expressions do not all match up in the way society would expect. For every imaginable combination of positions on these five scales, there are currently a number of people in the UK for whom that combination is their daily experience of their gender and sexuality. Unfortunately, while nature loves variety, society tends to prefer similarity so there is often a lot of pressure, in the form of harassment and discrimination, to try to force people not to reveal any gender variance.

Gender specialists

Transgender people do not need to know for certain whether they want to transition in order to choose to see one of the Scottish gender specialist doctors to explore the options available.  The Scottish gender specialists are experienced in helping a wide range of transgender people of all ages and identities.

It is important that people are open and honest with their gender specialist in order to receive the most appropriate assistance.  In the past many transgender people were concerned that gender specialists might only let them transition if they appeared likely to be straight/heterosexual once transitioned.  Fortunately, all the current Scottish gender specialists recognise that trans people can have a wide range of sexual orientations; both in terms of their sexual histories and future intentions.  The current Scottish gender specialists do not expect people to have any particular sexual orientation in order to transition.

In Scotland, there are two main NHS Gender Identity Clinics (GICs) – the Glasgow Sandyford GIC and the Edinburgh Chalmers GIC. There is also a small GIC in Aberdeen which is currently staffed through monthly visits by Dr Sarah Kennedy, the lead clinician of the Edinburgh Chalmers GIC. There is also a small GIC in Inverness which works in partnership with the Glasgow Sandyford GIC.

The Glasgow Sandyford Gender Identity Clinic accepts people from anywhere in Scotland.  The Sandyford NHS Gender Identity Clinic currently has around a 12 month waiting time for a first appointment.  Often people are referred to the Sandyford NHS Gender Identity Clinic by their GP Practice but it is also possible to self-refer to the clinic by phoning 0141 211 8137. The Glasgow Sandyford GIC accepts people of all ages because it has a specialist child and adolescent service.

The Edinburgh Chalmers Gender Identity Clinic accepts people from NHS Lothian, NHS Borders, NHS Fife. The Edinburgh Chalmers GIC currently has around a 14 month waiting time for a first appointment. The Edinburgh Chalmers GIC prefers people to be referred by their GP Practice to the clinic. The Edinburgh Chalmers GIC accepts people aged 17 or older.

A small number of trans people in Scotland see clinicians at private clinics, including: Dr Lyndsey Myskow at YourGP in Edinburgh and Dr Stuart Lorimer at Gendercare in London.

Non-binary people

Some people find they do not feel comfortable thinking of themselves as simply either male or female.  Instead they feel that their gender identity is more complicated to describe.  Some may identify their gender as right in the middle between male and female, while others may feel mainly male but not 100% male (or vice-versa not feel 100% female).  Alternatively, they may entirely reject defining their gender in terms of male and female in any way.

As their gender does not conform to traditional Western ideas of gender as binary, they can be considered to be non-binary people. Some other terms they have created to describe themselves include genderqueer, third-gender, bigender, androgyne, agender, gender-fluid and non-gender, although other terms are also used. However, some people will prefer not to define themselves using anything more specific than just transgender or trans. As lots of these words are quite new and created by the trans community, they often mean different things to different people, and new words to describe non-binary identities are being created all the time.

Due to Western society’s expectation that all people, including transgender people, will identify as just either male or female, it can be very difficult to work out how to express a gender identity which is neither simply one nor the other. Some people living in these societies may therefore experience a long period of uncertainty about how they relate to the highly gender-stereotyped world around them. There are countries and cultures in which gender is not understood in such a rigid male and female binary, and non-binary trans people in these societies are likely to have different experiences of navigating their gender identities and expressions.

Non-binary people can use a range of pronouns, including the most common ones ‘he’ and ‘she’. However, they may be more likely to use gender neutral pronouns such as the singular ‘they’ and ‘their’ to reflect that they don’t identify as either male or female. Other gender neutral pronouns include ‘zie’ and ‘hir’, which are used less often and mostly online, but it is still important to respect a person’s identity by using the correct pronouns for them, even if they are new or unusual to you. If a person tells you they are non-binary, it is perfectly polite to ask them what pronouns they would like you to use either by asking directly: “excuse me, but which pronouns do you use?” or asking: “how would you like to be addressed?” Once someone has let you know their pronouns, it is really important to try and get them right as much as possible.

Non-binary people also span a very wide range of desire to access medical gender reassignment services.  Some have no interest at all in physically changing their body.  Others may wish to partially physically transition (for example taking hormones but not having any surgery or, alternatively, having some surgery without taking hormones).  Some others will follow the same transition route as trans men and trans women who decide to medically transition as closely as possible to the “other” gender, but still reject identifying simply as male or female.

You can download a PDF of our non-binary leaflet which gives a brief introduction to what non-binary means, and best practice for supporting non-binary people!

WPATH Issues Statement on Legal Gender Recognition

On 19 January, 2015 the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) issued a statement asserting its position regarding legal gender recognition.

Significantly, WPATH stated:

  • “No particular medical, surgical, or mental health treatment or diagnosis is an adequate marker for anyone’s gender identity, so these should not be requirements for legal gender change.”
  • “WPATH Standard of Care 7 recognizes that there is a spectrum of gender identities, and that choices of identity limited to Male or Female may be inadequate to reflect all gender identities; an option of X or Other (as examples) may be advisable.”
  • “Marital status and parental status should not affect legal recognition of gender change. . .”
  • “. . . appropriate legal gender recognition should be available to transgender youth.”
  • ” . . . urges governments to eliminate unnecessary barriers, and to institute simple and accessible administrative procedures for transgender people to obtain legal recognition of gender, consonant with each individual’s identity. . . “

The Scottish Transgender Alliance welcomes that WPATH, long regarded as the world’s foremost authority on the medical treatment of transgender people, has clearly stated that legal recognition should be completely separate from the medical processes and not contingent on any diagnosis.  We are also pleased that they support access to legal gender recognition for transgender young people, and for the inclusion of a non-binary option.

These statements clearly align with the calls of our Equal Recognition campaign.  It is good to see that our campaign is consistent not only with international trans human rights activism, but also with the views of leading medical gender specialists.

The full text of the WPATH statement can be read here. WPATH Statement on Legal Recognition of Gender Identity 1-19-15

Irish Gender Recognition Act signed into law

We’re delighted to hear that Ireland’s Gender Recognition Act is now being signed into law.

The following is a press release from TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland):

Tánaiste  Announces Commencement of the Gender Recognition Act 2015

Today (Friday 4th September), TENI warmly welcomed the announcement that the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, had signed the Commencement Order for the Gender Recognition Act 2015. This will enable trans people to be formally recognised in their preferred gender for all purposes by the Irish State for the first time. As of Tuesday 8th September trans people will be able to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate from the Department of Social Protection and subsequently obtain a new birth certificate.

“The wait for legal recognition is finally over. The practical and symbolic importance of being recognised in the eyes of the State cannot be underestimated. This is a turning point for trans rights in Ireland and I hope this leads to further positive changes for our community,” said TENI Chief Executive Broden Giambrone. “This is also the end of a very long journey for Dr Lydia Foy who will soon have her correct birth certificate.”

Single Criteria

All trans people, regardless of marital status, will be able to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. The Tánaiste stated today that the requirement to be single (so-called ‘forced divorce’ clause) would not be commenced in the legislation: “I am particularly happy that we are in a position to immediately provide this recognition to transgender people regardless of their marital status. The Commencement Order which I have signed specifically excludes those elements of the legislation which required that applicants for gender recognition be single. I was able to do so because the President has very recently signed the results of the Marriage Equality Referendum into law.”

“We warmly welcome the Tánaiste’s remarks and are delighted that trans people who are married or in civil partnerships will be able to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate,” said TENI Chief Executive Broden Giambrone. “Married trans people will no longer be forced to choose between their families and their right to be legally recognised. This is a great day for families in Ireland.”

Next Steps

TENI will continue to advocate for the meaningful inclusion of young, intersex and non-binary people in the Gender Recognition Act. TENI will also have a step-by-step guide to applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate on our website (www.teni.ie) next week.

The application form for the Gender Recognition Certificate will be available on the Department’s website (www.welfare.ie) on Tuesday 8th September with further background information. The application form can also be obtained through the post by contacting Client Identity Services, Department of Social Protection, Shannon Lodge, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, N41 KD81 or by phone at 071 9672659.

For Further Information

Contact TENI’s Chief Executive, Broden Giambrone, on 087 135 9816 or director@teni.ie.

About TENI

Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) seeks to improve conditions and advance the rights and equality of trans people and their families. www.teni.ie / 01 873 3575.

Youth & family

Transgender people can be any age.  It is common for transgender people to be gender variant from a very young age and transgender children and teenagers can experience just as intense gender dysphoria as transgender adults.

Click on image to access high resolution PDF poster version

Click on image to access high resolution PDF poster version.

Historically, the needs of transgender young people have often been overlooked.  It is often much harder for a transgender child to get other people to listen to and accept their views about their personal gender identity, than it is for a transgender adult.  Young people often find that adults will simply try to impose upon them what the adults think is “for the best” rather than taking account of how the young person wishes to be treated.

Currently young people aged under 18 who have transitioned to live in a different gender are unable to legally change the gender listed on their birth certificate. This causes significant difficulties for adolescent trans people as it prevents them having the same privacy and recognition of their gender as older trans people and non-trans adolescents. Transgender Europe has produced a poster highlighting this issue as part of their Access All Areas – Gender Recognition Opens Doors campaign. The Scottish Transgender Alliance is pushing for the Scottish Government to urgently address this inequality.

A major issue for transgender youth is that their dependence on their family for money, housing and transport can restrict their ability to access transgender support groups or gender identity clinics if their parents do not support their transgender identity.  Also, transgender young people often struggle to get doctors, teachers, parents and social workers to take their gender dysphoria seriously because adults may simply ignore a young person’s gender dysphoria in the hope that they will “grow out of it”.

Other family issues can include the needs of families where a parent is transgender and also the issues for transgender people wishing to adopt a child or use fertility services.

Research, Support and Resources

A study done with 433 trans young people aged 16-24 in Ontario, Canada in 2012 showed how important the support of parents is for trans young people. Some of the findings included:

  • 100% of trans young people with ‘very supportive’ parents were in adequate accommodation, versus only 45% of those whose parents were ‘somewhat to not at all supportive’
  • 70% of trans young people with ‘very supportive’ parents reported very good or excellent mental health, versus only 15% of those whose parents were ‘somewhat to not at all supportive’
  • 72% of trans young people with ‘very supportive’ parents reported being satisfied with life, versus only 13% of those whose parents were ‘somewhat to not at all supportive’

You can read the full report by clicking here

You can find out where to get support for both trans young people and carers, family and friends of young trans people on our support page

LGBT Youth has a list of great resources for trans young people around coming out, sexual health, and explaining gender identity. Click here to go to the LGBT Youth website and download these resources.