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A person’s trans status must be treated with the same high level of confidentiality as sensitive personal medical information. Revealing someone is trans (‘outing’ them) can place them at risk of hate crime and discrimination. Even if a trans person appears open about their trans status, never assume you can tell others. 

The UK General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 provide general privacy protection for trans people. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 provides enhanced privacy protections. Disclosure Scotland has a special confidential process available for trans people.

Enhanced privacy protections in Gender Recognition Act 2004

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 defines any information relating to a trans person’s gender recognition application as ‘protected information’.  It is a criminal offence for anyone acquiring this protected information in an ‘official capacity’ to disclose it to a third party without the trans person’s consent.  There are a few exceptions, for example if the information is required for the prevention or investigation of a crime or if the information is needed by medical professionals at a time when the trans person is too ill to be able to provide consent.

The information is deemed to have been acquired in an ‘official capacity’ if it was acquired by someone in connection with their function:

  • as a member of the civil service, a police constable or the holder of any other public office or in connection with the functions of a local or public authority or of a voluntary organisation,


  • as an employer, or prospective employer, of the person to whom the information relates or as a person employed by such an employer or prospective employer,


  • in the course of, or otherwise in connection with, the conduct of business or the supply of professional services.

Remember that finding out about someone’s trans status through being their work colleague, providing them with any public service or being their trade union representative are all included in the category of ‘official capacity’.  Therefore always maintain confidentiality and be absolutely sure to get the trans person’s written permission before discussing their case with anyone else if this could identify them.  Telling others without the trans person’s permission could result in a criminal conviction and a £5000 personal fine!

Disclosure Scotland Applications

If you’re transgender and applying for a disclosure you can apply using a special process.

This means you only have to tell Disclosure Scotland your previous gender.

You don’t have to tell the person or organisation asking you for a disclosure – unless you’re happy for them to know.

Disclosure application process for transgender applicants

You should use your present name and gender to fill out the disclosure application form.

Do this this for whatever type of disclosure you’re applying for.

You don’t have to:

  • answer ‘yes’ to the part of the form about previous names unless you had other names that don’t relate to your transgender status
  • disclose on the form names that you were previously known by
  • give your Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) to your employer

You must notify Disclosure Scotland of your previous names

To complete your disclosure application, you’ll need to provide Disclosure Scotland with details of your previous names.

To do this, you should send a letter to Disclosure Scotland including the following information:

  • your case reference number
  • your contact details
  • details of your previous names

Disclosure Scotland’s Operations Management will let you know when they have received your information, so you can be sure your information will be handled safely.

Your case reference number is the 16-digit barcode number from the top-right corner of your disclosure application form. Make sure you include this so that Disclosure Scotland can match up your application with your documents.

Send your letter to:

Vetting Operations Manager
Disclosure Scotland
P.O. Box 250
G51 1YU

Mark the envelope ‘Private and confidential’ and/or ‘To be opened by the addressee only’.

If you don’t ask for your document copies to be returned to you, Disclosure Scotland will destroy them. They’ll send you confirmation when they’ve done this.

What your disclosure certificate will show

Your disclosure certificate will show your current name and will not include any previous names.

Get help with the process

If you need any help with your application, telephone 0300 020 0040 and ask to speak to the Vetting Operations Manager. The call centre is open Monday to Friday 9am to 1pm.

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Scottish Trans is part of the Equality Network