Trans Awareness Week 2020 runs from Friday 13 to Friday 20 November. and ends with Trans Day of Remembrance on Friday 20 November. UCU members are encouraged to do something to mark and raise awareness of trans equality.
Gender identity: what should employers be doing to promote equality?
Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic within the Equality Act, so it’s important that employers are taking action to ensure gender identity equality within their institutions. An employment tribunal in 2020 found that non-binary gender is covered by the protected characteristic gender reassignment.
While the 2010 Act refers to gender reassignment, it is more common now to use the more inclusive term gender identity as it reflects:
- that the Equality Act covers a person from the moment they identify their gender as other than the one that matches their birth sex; and
- that engagement with related medical processes – eg, gender reassignment surgery – is an individual choice, not a pre-requisite for being covered by the Act.
What the employer should be doing for gender identity equality?
There are a number of areas where employers should be ensuring they are taking action to promote gender identity equality. These include, but are not limited to:
- Equal opportunities, recruitment and anti-bullying and harassment policies should make specific reference to gender reassignment
- Evidence of due regard for equality covering all protected characteristics including gender reassignment in all the employer’s functions and day-to-day activities
- Active steps to prevent discrimination and harassment on the grounds of protected characteristics including gender reassignment, regardless of whether they believe they have trans and/or non-binary staff and/or students
- Support for directly related hospital appointments and medical procedures for those undergoing surgical processes associated with gender reassignment, as well as policies for name and gender record alteration
- Gender identity equality should be included in all induction and training, including staff and student handbooks.
Gender identity monitoring
- Monitoring of gender identity or diversity should be anonymised and confidential.
- Gender can be asked in the format of woman, man, other (with a free text box so that a person can self-identify in their own terms).
- Sex can be asked using the terms female, male, other. This also allows for intersex people to self-identify. The Equality Act does not include intersex as a protected characteristic.
- Including ‘other’ and perhaps ‘prefer not to say’ boxes can help an organisation avoid ‘dead-naming’ (i.e. referring to the name the person used prior to transition) or misgendering a person who is covered by the gender reassignment protected characteristic but may not have completed their medical transition and / or fully updated their records in the organisation.
- A question such as ‘does your gender identity match the sex registered at your birth?’ can be included for monitoring purposes.
It is recommended that to achieve the best results in gender identity equality, educations institutions, students’ unions and trade unions should:
- Actively involve trans and non-binary staff and students in the creation and implementation of equality protocols; and
- Engage with local equality groups, regional and national organisations, including UCU, for advice and support.