Saturday, 16 February 2008

Legal Rights of English transsexual people at work...

I’ve finished the Transgender & Transsexual Guide for my Union to do with as it chooses. I would like to believe it would help avoid the sort of abuse & discrimination I suffered from my employers but is today’s society capable of handling the truth?

The guide I’ve produced runs to 26 pages so I’ve done a two-page summary of the key points. See below.

If anyone would like a full copy then just email me. I’m easy to find simply Google “Maggie Fiona Fox” or add a comment in here with your email addy.

On the personal side I got a valentine card and some Thornton chocolates. My first for 5 years, that’s the card silly! Of course “L” who sent and I managed to trade insults before the day was out. So what started as tears of happiness ended in tears of despair. Sort of sums up my world really.

I’ve got my rail travel warrant and confirmation of my delegate status at my union’s LBGT conference so it’s off to Eastbourne at end of month.

I got an email from the solicitor paid for by my Union and I’ve concluded there is no real coordinated case management at solicitor level in Legal Firms but we have a meeting next week and that will be sorted then.

My case is incredibly strong and only a legal fool could fail to win it for me!

Anyway here is the summary I’ve produced for my Union. I’m obliged to add a disclaimer:


Maggie Fiona Fox produced this guide in February 2008.

Sections of this guide (such as Pension Rights) are taken from Gender Reassignment - A Guide for Employers

This Guide has no legal status but covers the main employment provisions of current legislation.

The views & interpretations expressed are those of the authoress alone and may or may not constitute Unite Union Policy.

For clarification of Unite policy please contact your Regional LBGT Officer.


Non-binary gender presentation has always been a feature of society.

A transgender person is defined as someone who does not make a permanent change but can take on the characteristics of the opposite sex whilst a transsexual person is defined as someone who feels a consistent and overwhelming desire to change their sex and live permanently in the gender role that is opposite to the one assigned to them at birth.

One thing is common to all however and that is the need to stay employed so that they can live the life they choose as the person they know they are.

The core issue for Unite is of course to help protect the individual’s human rights regardless of whether the change is permanent or temporary.

For the purpose of the law, people can only be male or female.

It is not against the law to dress as the opposite gender

It is not against the law to use toilets of the opposite gender.

The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 (Statutory Instrument 1999 No. 1102) has extended the Sex Discrimination Act to make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of gender reassignment in the area of employment.

Employers must remember that it would constitute unlawful discrimination if they treat a transsexual individual undergoing gender reassignment treatment less favourably than someone who is absent for some other medical reason.

It is unlawful for an employer to dismiss an individual for reasons of impending gender reassignment treatment.

It is unlawful for an employer to instruct someone else to do something discriminatory.

Pressure to discriminate is also unlawful – for example employees threatening not to work unless their employer dismisses a colleague who has decided to undergo gender reassignment.

Harassment of an individual on the ground of gender reassignment - either by their employer or by other employees – is a form of unlawful discrimination.

It is unlawful to victimise someone by treating them less favourably because they have made a complaint about gender reassignment discrimination.

It is unlawful to victimise someone who gives evidence on behalf of a person who has complained of unlawful discrimination.

An employer is liable for any discriminatory act done by an employee in the course of their employment with or without the employer’s knowledge or approval.

It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the employee is protected from harassment and they may wish to remind staff of the disciplinary procedures in this area.

Employees remain individually liable for their own discriminatory acts, even where the organisation is potentially liable also.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 introduced a Gender Recognition process, which enables transsexual people to be legally recognised in their acquired gender.

This includes the issue of a birth certificate in the new gender.

It is an offence for a person to disclose information he has acquired in an official capacity about a person's application for a gender recognition certificate or about the gender history of a successful applicant.

It is never appropriate to inform colleagues, clients and the public that an employee has in the past undergone gender reassignment.

All personnel records must be updated for the transition and even before a formal gender recognition certificate is obtained the employer must update all records and references in agreement with the employee.

A transsexual person has the right to use toilet facilities appropriate to their legal status.

A transsexual employee must not be compelled to use separate, unisex or disabled facilities. If forced to do so this constitutes sex discrimination even if they have not undergone a gender reassignment operation (Croft v Royal Mail Appeal Court judgement 18 July 2003).

Under no circumstances should they be expected, after transitioning, to use the facilities of their former gender.

Interviewees may not necessarily want to disclose their transsexual status at interview, and it is not a question that should be asked.

When an employer is asked for a reference for a transsexual person, he or she must provide it, without hinting that the person has had a change of gender.

It is unlawful for a recruitment agency to discriminate against a transsexual person:

A transsexual person who receives a full gender recognition certificate will be treated according to their acquired gender for state pension purposes.

This means that their state pension age will be the same as for other members of their acquired gender - currently 65 for men and 60 for women.

A transsexual woman without a full gender recognition certificate who is working beyond the age of sixty is able to make separate arrangements for the payment of national insurance contributions so as to retain her privacy in the workplace.

Since May 2004 a potential employer must see an applicant’s proof of identity and right to work in the UK. This includes a UK/EEC passport or a full birth certificate and a P45, P60, National Insurance card or a letter from a Government agency.

Some transsexual people may not have any identification documents in their acquired gender, and may have to disclose their transsexual identity.

Employers must ensure that this information is kept confidential.

The CRB has developed a separate application procedure, which allows transsexual applicants to exclude previous names from the Disclosure Application form.

If someone has a full gender recognition certificate under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 it is not lawful to discriminate other than on grounds that would apply to anyone else of their acquired gender.

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