The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has published its first report on transgender equality. The report makes over 30 recommendations into a wide range of policy areas including updating legislation, providing better services and improving confidence in the criminal justice system.
The report notes that the Equality Act 2010 uses terms such as “gender reassignment” and “transsexual” which are outmoded and confusing. There is a misapprehension that the protections against discrimination apply only to those who are undergoing, or have undergone, medical gender reassignment treatment or have a Gender Reassignment Certificate. In reality, the process of gender reassignment can be purely social. The Act does not address discrimination against the wider trans community including those who identify as, for example, non-binary. Finally, there was a concern that the occupational requirement defence (which, in limited circumstances, allows employers to limit roles to male or female staff) is being used too widely and reducing the protection available to trans people. Accordingly, the Act recommends that the Equality Act should be amended to refer to “gender identity”, that the occupational requirements defence should not apply to instances of discrimination against a person whose acquired gender has been recognised under the Gender Recognition Act 2004, and that official gender recognition should be on a self-declared rather than medical basis.
This report follows the publication last year of Government Equalities Office guidance on the recruitment and retention of transgender employees, which is designed to be a useful guide for both managers and trans employees.