The Equality Act 2010 lists gender reassignment as one of the ‘protected characteristics’ on the grounds of which people are protected against unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation. This applies in education, employment and the provision of goods and services.
It is not necessary for an individual to be under medical supervision, or to undertake reassignment surgery, to benefit from the legal protection, which commences from the point at which they first state their intention to transition. Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees from harassment and bullying, including in relation to gender reassignment.
It is unlawful to discriminate against someone because they are perceived to be transgender, whether or not the perception is accurate. It is also unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their association with a transgender person (for example as a family member, friend, partner, etc).
As a public authority, the University also has equality duties to:
- Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act;
- Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it; and to
- Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
Some trans people may also be protected as having the protected characteristic of disability.
Where an individual has been diagnosed as having ‘gender dysphoria’ or ‘gender identity disorder’ and the condition has a substantial and long-term adverse impact on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, they will also be protected under the disability discrimination provisions of the act. [EHRC, 2014, Section 2.28]
EHRC (2014) Equality Act 2010 technical guidance on further and higher education. Equality and Human Rights Commission, London. Section 2.28 http://tinyurl.com/y84wu46r