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Gender reassignment discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 says you mustn’t be discriminated against because you’re a transsexual person. This is called discrimination because of gender reassignment.

Discrimination which is against the Equality Act is unlawful. If you’ve experienced unlawful discrimination, you may be able to do something about it.

Read this page to find out more about what’s meant by gender reassignment.

What’s meant by gender reassignment?

If you want to make a discrimination claim, you need to find out if you’re someone who mustn’t be discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010.

The Equality Act says it’s only unlawful discrimination if you’re treated unfairly because of certain reasons. These reasons are called protected characteristics. Gender reassignment is one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act.

The Equality Actsays discrimination because of gender reassignment is where you’re treated unfairly because you’re a transsexual person.

Who is a transsexual person?

A transsexual person is someone who:

  • wants to change their gender, whether they go through with the medical treatment or not
  • has had a gender reassignment
  • is undergoing medical treatment to reassign their gender
  • has started the medical process but has decided to stop it
  • has decided to adopt the identity of their chosen gender without undergoing a medical gender reassignment 
  • wants to dress as their chosen gender, all the time or only occasionally.

But if you cross-dress for some other reason than because you want to adopt your chosen gender- for example, as a joke -  this is not gender reassignment.

Gender reassignment is a personal process rather than a medical one. You don’t have to undergo medical treatment and you don’t have to be under medical supervision.

Example

You were born physically female but decide to spend the rest of your life as a man. You decide not to seek medical advice as you don’t feel the need to have any medical treatment to physically reassign your gender. You would be a transsexual person under the Equality Act.

Example

You were born physically male but want to spend the rest of your life as a woman. You decide you want to undergo a medical gender reassignment but after attending counselling sessions you decide to stop the process. You would be a transsexual person under the Equality Act.

Discrimination because of someone else’s gender reassignment

It’s unlawful to discriminate against you because of the gender reassignment of someone you’re with or someone you know. This could be a parent, child, partner or friend.

This is called discrimination by association.

Example

You’re refused entry to a pub because you’re with a friend who’s had a gender reassignment. This is unlawful discrimination by association against you because of your friend's gender reassignment.

Discrimination because of who someone thinks you are

It’s unlawful if someone discriminates against you because they think you’re a transsexual person. This is called discrimination by perception. For example, if you cross-dress as a joke and someone discriminates against you because they think you’re a transsexual, this could be discrimination by perception.

Next steps

Other useful information

Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)

If you have experienced discrimination, you can get help from the EASS discrimination helpline.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

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