Gender reassignment discrimination

Fiona Cuming

Editor's message: Gender reassignment is one of the nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

"Gender reassignment" describes the process where a person transitions from one gender to another. This can involve hormone treatment and/or surgery, but some workers will transition without medical treatment by, for example, changing their name, clothes and other ways in which they present themselves.

The Equality Act 2010 uses the term "transsexual". However, this term is out of date and the more inclusive term "transgender" or "trans" is preferred.

Employers must ensure that they do not subject transgender workers to less favourable treatment. Following good practice will help to make the transition for the transgender employee, work colleagues and clients as smooth as possible.

In de Souza E Souza v Primark Stores Ltd ET/2206063/2017, the employment tribunal upheld a claim of gender reassignment discrimination and harassment against a major retailer. The tribunal recommended that the retailer adopt a written policy on how to deal with new and existing trans staff and awarded £47,433 to the employee.

Your organisation could benefit in a number of ways by establishing itself as a trans-friendly workplace, including in your recruitment processes, staff networks and senior-level commitment. All of these steps will help to cultivate a culture where trans employees are supported throughout the employment cycle.

Fiona Cuming, employment law editor

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HR and legal information and guidance relating to gender reassignment discrimination.