Transgender People

There are believed to be around 500,000 transgender people in the UK. Many live without undergoing transition. Large numbers live in London because of the existence of facilities such as specialist shops and a transgender community.

In the transgender community there is a concept of passing .This refers to the ability of a person to move about in public as a member of their chosen gender without being recognised as transgendered. Where a person does not pass, confusion may arise as to how official should deal with that person. Transgender people should be dealt with in a manner appropriate to the gender they present.

It is important not to make assumptions. A person who believes they were born in the wrong gender and who is taking steps to change this situation should not be referred to as a transvestite. Most transgender people do not identify as being lesbian, gay or bi-sexual.

It is not an offence to cross-dress in public.

When meeting a transgender person, care should be taken to listen to the name offered by the person. Documentation may be completed with a name to reflect the new gender. The Gender Identity Act allows the birth certificate to be altered and there are further plans to extend this right to other official documents held about people that are in the public domain.


The Gender Equality Duty requires public organisations to create and implement proactive Policies and Schemes to ensure true gender equality. It also specifically includes Transsexual People in this Duty. This relatively small minority is much misunderstood, despite their growing presence in our society that has come with changes in social attitude and the law. The paragraphs below indicate some areas which may cause concern in public authorities and others. This includes the extension of good practice to cover transgender people as well as transsexual, without clear definition of what the difference is, or how that good practice may be developed.

The definition of "transsexual" used in the gender equality duty is the same as that in the SDA, but it is recommended as good practice that you apply any provisions for transsexual people to those who define as transgender as well.

The duties laid out below are in reference to transsexual and transgender people. Essentially:-

  • Transsexual people should feel supported and valued as employees/trainees.
  • Transsexual employees, trainees and apprentices undergoing transition are retained as valued members of staff.
  • Transsexual trainees undergoing transition on training courses complete the training.
  • Barriers to the recruitment and retention of transsexual staff have been identified and removed.
  • A clear and workable policy for dealing with harassment of transsexual staff/trainees.
  • Support mechanisms to protect the health and welfare of transsexual people in the workplace, and in vocational training.
  • There is evidence that the public authority promotes and maintains a culture of respect for the dignity of individuals and difference.
  • There are appropriate protocols for management of sensitive and confidential information about a person's transsexual status.
  • Practical matters related to transition such as access to changing and toilet facilities are resolved quickly and respectfully.

Due regard and transsexual people

Transsexual people are a small percentage of the population and so statistically, you may deal with transsexual staff or trainees very rarely. Despite the small numbers, however, public authorities are under a duty to have regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment on the grounds of gender reassignment. Having due regard means that the weight given to the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment is proportionate to its relevance to a particular function. Public authorities will need to take into account the seriousness or extent of the discrimination or harassment, even if the number of people affected is small. This would often be the case where, for example, transsexual people were affected, as the seriousness or extent of discrimination and harassment might be significant.

There are six key areas that employers need to consider to support transsexual/transgendered staff.

These cover:-

  • Recruitment, retention and return
  • Confidentiality and data
  • Staff training
  • Health related issues
  • Use of single sex facilities
  • Dress code

Employers may also need to consider the following areas:

  • Ensuring the organisation's policies and procedures are inclusive of this issue
  • Timescales of any medical or surgical procedures
  • The individual's medical needs in the workplace
  • Planning and agreeing the point of changing name, personal details or gender
  • Whether the employee wishes to inform colleagues him/herself of if they would prefer others to do this

Impact Training provides a wide range of training courses on the laws covering all the diversity strands including transgender issues. These can be provided at a basic intermediate or advanced level and can also focus upon:-

  • Managerial responsibilities
  • Employment
  • Service Delivery

We also provide training and consultancy services on:-

  • Implementing the new Equality Duties
  • Impact Assessment Tools
  • Preparing for inspection
  • Mainstreaming equalities within everything you do
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Equality Audits