Trans people & employment

The deadline for completing the third Transgender survey from the Government Equalities Office is today, so if you haven’t yet done so please do it now as it covers the important matter of discrimination at work.

This was one of the sad things I heard at the Transgender Statement of Needs workshop during the LGBT Health Summit at Cardiff: despite the legislative protections in place (as amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act) since 1999, for those intending to undergo, who are undergoing, or who have undergone, gender reassignment (and recently reinforced by the Equalities Act) Trans people are still losing their jobs when they transition. That of course is not the stated reason for their dismissal; employers find convenient excuses, and the Trans person is often powerless, unless they are willing to take their case to an employment tribunal, which usually they don’t, because of the attendant publicity, though, thankfully, some brave people are prepared to do this, both for their own sake and to ensure that equality law is not just an ideal but actually impacts on people’s lives.

This yawning gap between equality legislation and people’s experience was one of the issues that we wrestled with in the workshop, and a key problems is that while the government expects the Equality and Human Rights Commission to monitor and ensure the implementation of the law the EHRC does not appear to be doing this in relationship to cases of discrimination against Trans people. This needs to be addressed urgently

If this is true of employers generally, the Church seems even further behind in this respect as is apparent from the omission of gender identity from the forthcoming review (of sexual orientation) by the Bishops of the Church of England. However, that review will have to include Trans people’s issues, just as it is vital that this is a conversation with LGB&T people rather than about us.

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