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Gender re-assignment equality

Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because they are transsexual. This is when a person’s gender identity is different from the gender assigned at birth. This is known as gender reassignment. All transsexual people share the common characteristic of gender reassignment.


To be protected from gender reassignment discrimination, a person does not need to have undergone any specific treatment or surgery to change their birth sex to their preferred gender. This is because changing physiological or other gender attributes is a personal process rather than a medical one.

A person can be at any stage in the transition process – from proposing to reassign their gender, to undergoing a process to reassign their gender, or having completed it.  

Discrimination can also include:

  • where someone thinks a person is transsexual, for example because they occasionally cross-dress or are gender variant (this is known as discrimination by perception)
  • where a person has a connection with a transsexual person, or someone wrongly thought to be transsexual (this is known as discrimination by association)

Intersex is the term used to describe a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't fit the typical definitions of female or male. Intersex people are not explicitly protected from discrimination by the Equality Act, but they must not be discriminated against because of their gender or perceived gender.

Types of gender reassignment discrimination

There are 4 types of gender reassignment discrimination.

  • direct discrimination
  • indirect discrimination
  • harassment
  • victimisation

Find out about circumstances when being treated differently due to gender re-assignment is lawful.

Providing a positive experience in service delivery and employment in relation to gender re-assignment

We believe that every person should be treated at all times with dignity and respect. In relation to gender re-assignment, this can include:

  • addressing a person by their preferred name or title asking them about their needs and preferences
  • avoiding making assumptions or uniformed judgements based on a person’s voice or appearance

This is especially important where a person contacts us by telephone, or in person.

Supporting a person because of their gender re-assignment can make a big and positive difference to their lives. For example:

  • providing advice, information and support to young people who wish to transition
  • ensuring that colleagues of a person who is assuming their acquired gender are clear about our policies in relation to equality and harassment at work
  • making trans awareness training available, can all help achieve a positive working environment

Including trans people in the celebration of diversity is also important, and can ensure that employees and the public can be made more aware of the needs and issues facing trans people, including their history and treatment in society.