The process of transitioning from one gender to another.
A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if that 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. This is the case whether or not the reassignment takes place under medical supervision. The process of gender reassignment includes a change of the gender role (termed transition).
People are protected once they have proposed to undergo reassignment, even if later they change their mind. Proposing reassignment requires no more than informing another person of that intention.
Anyone undergoing the reassignment process may be regarded as a ‘transsexual person’ although it should be noted that the terms preferred by people covered by this characteristic are ‘transgender person’ or ‘trans person’.
The terms ‘transgender or trans person’ refer to a person who transitions, sometimes with the help of hormone or cosmetic surgery, to live in their acquired gender role. The person may or may not intend to or have undergone genital surgery.
The term ‘gender dysphoria’ refers to the discomfort, distress or anxiety a person can experience because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. The mental health charity, PACE, have identified that 59 per cent of trans young people said that they had self harmed compared with just under 9 per cent of all 16 to 24 year olds.
Since the enactment of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, trans people in England have been able to get their ‘acquired’ gender recognised for all legal purposes including marriage. With the enactment of ‘The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013’, adults who are married and then transition can remain married to their spouse, if that is something the couple want to do.
There are no accurate figures on how many people experience gender dysphoria in the UK. A survey of 10,000 people in 2012 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggested that 1 per cent of the population was transgender. The truth is no one really knows because many people never seek help. With greater awareness, more people are presenting at an earlier age. Between 2009 and 2015, the number of children aged 10 and under referred to NHS support services to deal with transgender feelings more than quadrupled.
Customer service and employment considerations, council work, projects and examples
Promoting transgender equality involves promoting a culture of and demonstrating inclusive practice. Discrimination and disadvantage can occur out of ignorance or prejudice. In national surveys, trans people have identified that they experience or fear transphobic comments, harassment, prejudice and discrimination in their daily lives.
If unaware of inclusive practice, employees can fear embarrassment and generally be unsure of the right thing to do. The use of toilets or changing areas by trans people and how to deal with potential or perceived perceptions and attitudes of other customers can cause uncertainty and potential discrimination.
It is generally recognised that from the point at which a person presents in their acquired gender, they use the toilet pertaining to that gender. This does not mean the accessible or disabled toilet, unless they are disabled trans person who needs that facility.
Mixed changing rooms and facilities with cubicles (‘changing villages’) offer greatest inclusivity and privacy for all customers.
If another customer or employee makes an inappropriate, transphobic or offensive comment, it should be challenged or dealt with proactively and appropriately following council procedures. Like with any customer, if an employee is uncertain how to address the person, they should ask that person.
Guidance for employees or managers on the issues of transitioning can be found in the Human Resources Manual C7: Gender reassignment which is available on the council intranet.
Other sites of interest