Gender Reassignment Discrimination

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Health Assured team

15 September 2021

As an employer, you must protect your staff from all forms of discrimination. There are laws in place to protect employees from different forms of discrimination. Failure to protect your workers can lead to employment tribunals and costly fines. You must put procedures in place to stop gender reassignment discrimination.

In this guide, we’ll explain what gender reassignment discrimination is, give some examples and provide tips on stopping it in the workplace.

What is gender reassignment discrimination?

Gender reassignment discrimination means treating someone less favourably because they’re transgender.

Gender reassignment is the transition a person makes to change their physical sexual characteristics to better match their gender identity.

People who go through this transition tend to identify as transgender. Transgender is an umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.

A person doesn’t need to go through gender reassignment to be considered transgender, however they are still protected from this type of discrimination.

Gender reassignment legislation

Transgender discrimination is covered under gender reassignment discrimination in the Equality Act (2010).

The Equality Act protects people from discrimination based on certain protected characteristics. There nine protected characteristics are:

  • Age.
  • Disability.
  • Gender reassignment.
  • Marriage and civil partnership.
  • Pregnancy and maternity.
  • Race.
  • Religion or belief.
  • Sex.
  • Sexual orientation.

This act makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone for any of these reasons.

The Gender Recognition Act UK allows people to change their gender by law. The Equality Act makes it illegal to discriminate against gender reassignment whether someone has legally changed gender or not.

Different types of discrimination

There are four main types of gender reassignment discrimination. They include:

Direct gender reassignment discrimination: When a person is treated less favourably than others because of their gender identity. This is often the most common form of discrimination. It includes people who are treated unfairly because they are perceived to be transgender too, which is also known as discrimination by perception.

Indirect gender reassignment discrimination: When a workplace rule that applies equally to everyone disadvantages a group of people who have been through gender reassignment. The policy might apply to all staff members, but if it negatively impacts a transgender worker then it has the potential to cause a discrimination claim.

Gender reassignment harassment: Uninvited conduct relating to someone’s gender. The conduct may violate a person’s dignity or create a fearful, hostile environment. Examples of this kind of harassment include verbally abusive language, tolerating trans-phobic terms, excessive criticism of staff or colleges and even abuse from third parties like clients or customers.

Gender reassignment victimisation: Treating someone differently because they have complained about, or are believed to have complained about, gender reassignment harassment. It doesn’t matter whether or not the person has actually made a complaint, if they are treated unfairly for this reason—It’s classed as victimisation.

Examples of gender reassignment discrimination

  • A transgender employee applies for a promotion at work but is turned down for an interview. Even though they hold all the relevant experience. The other candidates for the role all have similar experience levels to the transgender employee. They are all offered interviews. The hiring manager believes that they couldn’t deal with the issues the transgender employee might bring to the team. So, decides not to consider the application.
  • An employee has recently come out to the people they work with. As they walk through the office, other employees point and begin talking amongst themselves. Colleagues have made rude remarks to the employee, cutting them off in meetings and ignoring them in passing. The employee is left feeling isolated and fearful of coming to work.
  • A transgender employee requests time off for appointments for their medical gender reassignment procedure. The workplace doesn’t deem these appointments as a medical requirement and penalises the employee for taking time off. They are given a warning about their absence rates and are told to arrange other appointments outside of work time.

Discrimination against gender reassignment is unacceptable. Don't tolerate it in your workplace.

How to stop gender reassignment discrimination in the workplace

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure equality in the workplace. Here are some of the things you can do to put a stop to gender reassignment discrimination in the workplace.

Communicate your policies

Communication is key. If you don’t make your employees aware of your policies, including those around discrimination—of all kinds—then they can’t begin to emanate them. It’s important to spread the word about your zero-tolerance approach. Plus, word travels fast. If you stamp out discrimination when it does happen. Then there’s a good chance that it won’t continue.

Develop transgender-specific training

Transgender people are underrepresented in the workplace. Many people might not know the struggles that transgender people at work go through. Providing educatory materials can shift perceptions around transgender men and women. It can also help to raise awareness around the struggles that they face in the workplace.

Hire a diverse workforce

Employing a diverse workforce can help to stop discrimination in the workplace. Employing transgender workers can help to shift perceptions. The more diverse your workforce is—the more accepting your organisational culture will be. It brings new perspectives, experiences, and knowledge to the table. So, it's good for business too.

Talk to your transgender employees

If you do employ transgender workers, talk to them, and find out what their specific needs might be. You must ensure you support your workers and treat them equally. Find out if there’s anything you can do to tackle issues they might have and take steps to make these changes. The results will be happier and healthier employees in the long run.

Support your employees with Health Assured

How can Health Assured’s EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) support your business with gender reassignment discrimination? With a huge number of certified counsellors and wellbeing specialists, we can help support transgender employees through challenging times.

With our EAP, you get access to our counsellors 24/7, 365 and our mental, physical wellbeing resources.

We also offer a confidential whistleblowing service that allows transgender employees to raise workplace issues or concerns in complete confidence. Our trained counsellors and advisors can offer in the moment support. We’ll then document the details and reach out to the organisation, so they can identify and deal with the issue.

Arrange a call back from a workplace wellbeing expert today on 0844 891 0357.

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