Gender Reassignment

Gender Reassignment Inequality in Wales

The Facts

Trans* and transgender are terms used to describe people who don’t conform to the traditional division of male and female.

The term trans* encompasses many different types of people and lifestyles, including:

  • People who cross-dress (transvestite people) – People who sometimes wear the clothing of another sex, but don’t want to live full-time as a member of that sex.
  • Genderfluid, agender and genderqueer people – People who feel that they are both, or neither, male and female or whose sex varies.
  • Drag queens, drag kings, and other people who don’t appear conventionally masculine or feminine.
  • Transsexual or Transgender people – People who have a strong and constant desire to live and be accepted as a member of a sex other than that which they were assigned at birth. Many transsexual people have gender reassignment treatments to make their appearance more consistent with their chosen gender, which can involve hormone therapy and surgery.

Trans* people often have complex gender identities (their idea of who they are), and their gender identity may change over time. For example, a man may begin by cross-dressing occasionally then decide later in life that he wants to live full-time as a woman. This is called transitioning.

Some people who live full-time as another gender prefer not to use the term “trans” at all. For example, a trans man (someone who has transitioned from female to male) may simply prefer to be called a man[1].

Biological sex is assigned at birth, depending on the appearance of the genitals. Gender identity is the gender that a person “identifies” with or feels themselves to be. While biological sex and gender identity are the same for most people, also called being cis or cisgender, this is not the case for everyone. For example, some people may have the anatomy of a man, but identify themselves as a woman, while others may not feel they are definitively either male or female.

This mismatch between sex and gender identity can lead to distressing and uncomfortable feelings that are called gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is the medical term used to describe the condition of feeling uncomfortable about your gender and to describe transsexuality – that is, the desire to live as a gender other than that assigned at birth. Gender dysphoria is a recognised medical condition, for which treatment is sometimes appropriate, but it is not a mental illness[2].

There is very little evidence of exactly how many transsexual people are living in the UK as many do not reveal their gender identity or expression to their GPs or seek any medical treatment. This means that it is difficult to accurately count how many transsexual people are living in the UK[3].

There is much discrepancy between the population statistics given by various studies. The Home office estimates there are 1,550 to 2,400 Trans individuals in Britain[4] but In 2008 the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) projected that there were as many as 300,000 people who experience some degree of gender variance living in the UK.

GIRES say that this figure could be as high as 500,000 (1%) if the gender balance among gender variant people is equal, which seems increasingly likely[5].

In 2007, an estimated 1,500 people (3 per 100,000) required treatment for gender dysphoria. 2010 data has since shown a continuing increase of approximately 11% per year. If this rate continues there will be a doubling of the numbers every six and a half years[6].

Know Your Rights

Transsexual people are protected from discrimination and harassment under the Equality Act 2010. Under the legal definition, a transsexual person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if they are undergoing, have undergone or are proposing to undergo gender reassignment.

Gender reassignment is a process to change your sex by changing physiological and/or other attributes of sex including, for example, your first name, title, clothing, etc. It does not necessarily involve medical or surgical treatment, although it can do.

People who are not transsexual but who are wrongly thought by someone else to be transsexual are also protected from gender reassignment discrimination, as are people who are linked or associated with a transsexual person.

A wide range of people are included in the terms ‘trans’ or ‘transgender’, such as cross-dressers and other people whose gender identity may be anywhere on the spectrum between or beyond entirely male and entirely female. Only transsexual people are explicitly protected under equality legislation but if, for example, a transvestite were discriminated against because they were wrongly thought to be transsexual, they would also be protected[7].

There are different types of Discrimination that a trans person can experience, which are covered by the Equality Act 2010:

Direct Discrimination: When a person, rule or policy discriminates against a person solely because they are transsexual.

Indirect Discrimination: When you have a rule or policy that applies to everyone but particularly disadvantages a person with a protected characteristic.

Harassment: Behaviour deemed offensive by the recipient. People can find something offensive even when it’s not directed at them.

Harassment by a third party: Employers are potentially liable for the harassment of staff or customers by people they don’t directly employ, such as a contractor. This is also called Vicarious Liability.

Victimisation: Discrimination against someone because they have made or supported a complaint under Equality Act legislation.

Perceptive Discrimination: The Act also makes it unlawful on the same basis to discriminate or harass a person because they are perceived to be intending to undergo, are undergoing, or have undergone gender reassignment.

Associative discrimination: The Act also makes it unlawful on the same basis to discriminate or harass a person because they are associated with a person who is intending to undergo, are undergoing, or has undergone gender reassignment[8].


References:

  1. Transgender health and well-being.
  2. Gender dysphoria.
  3. Gender Identity Research and Education Society. Gender Variance UK report.
  4. Equality and Human Rights Commission, Research report 27. Trans research review.
  5. Gender Identity Research and Education Society. Gender Variance UK report.
  6. Gender Identity Research and Education Society. The Number of Gender Variant People in the UK – Update 2011.
  7. Government Equalities Office. Equality Act 2010: What do I need to know? A Quick Start Guide to Gender Reassignment for Voluntary and Community Organisations.
  8. Press For Change. The Equality Act 2010.
  9. EHRC Wales report. Not just another statistic.