Gender Reassignment – need to know
One day, I expect to meet a trans person (previously referred to as a transsexual) who may need my help and support as they transition to the gender they wish to identify with from that which they were assigned at birth. The last thing I would want in that situation would be to make things any more difficult through my ignorance. I’ve started researching this area and it’s been fascinating. My hope is that I can share a few insights and raise awareness and maybe address some negative attitudes through this blog.
Your knowledge may be limited to what you’ve heard in the media from high profile cases such as Kellie Maloney, the boxing promoter who has completed their gender-reassignment and Chloe Allen of the Scots Guards who is in the process of making the transition. Headlines were even more interesting as Chloe will be the first female to serve on the front line gaining the Army praise for being incredibly supportive, inclusive and forward thinking.
There is some confusing language around this area:
Gender dysphoria – the NHS defines as a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. Can also be known as Gender Identity Disorder. People who suffer from gender dysphoria don’t have choice in the matter.
So what does the law say?
The Equality Act 2010 offers protection from discrimination for anyone who is transsexual and refers to this commonly shared characteristic as gender reassignment. Protection starts from when someone decides to live as the gender they identify as whether they propose to change their gender or not as this is considered more a personal process rather than a medical one.
Some of the challenges facing a trans person:
- Transphobia causing a significant effect on trans people’s lives, from family rejection to discrimination, bullying and harassment at work or in education
- Suicide rates are extremely high in trans people choosing this as an alternative to facing the difficulties of gender reassignment
- Lack of understanding and empathy from GP’s, employers, colleagues, family and friends
- Perceptions of society through a lack of understanding
- To be legally recognised as your acquired gender, a Gender Recognition Certificate must be applied for – only possible once certain criteria has been met such as living in the acquired gender for 2 years
- However, we still have a duty to treat people in the way they identify, regardless of legal status of their gender. For example, someone that identifies as a Trans female should be able to come to work and be treated within the system as a female regardless of their legal gender status
What can you do?
- Encourage Inclusivity
- Review your policies and train your Managers and HR team who are most likely to be approached in the first instance – there’s some helpful advice on the ACAS website at http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2064
- Incorporate awareness of gender reassignment issues into your Equality Act 2010 training for everyone to protect everyone from discrimination
- If you don’t already have an Inclusivity/Equality Policy or even better an Equality Strategy that includes how you would support an employee undertaking gender reassignment, consider updating this now, so anyone affected knows who to approach and work out how you would be able to respond supportively
- Equality should feature within all business policies to increase integration into everyday business, therefore an Equality Strategy is your route towards this
Interested in finding out more?
- There’s a powerful video on the NHS website at nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- equalityhumanrights.com/en – Equality and Human Rights Commission
- stonewall.org.uk – Stonewall campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people across Britain
- http://gendertrust.org.uk/ -Gender Trust
- http://www.gires.org.uk/ – Gender Identity Research and Information Society
- http://www.pfc.org.uk/ – Press for Change