Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Your Needs
  3. Transgender
  4. Equality Law

Equality Law

Equality Act 2010

Applies in England, Scotland and Wales

Protected characteristic

Gender reassignment is defined as a protected characteristic.  People who are proposing to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone a process (or part of a process) to reassign their sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex have the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.

Gender reassignment is a personal process (rather than a medical process) which involves a person expressing their gender in a way that differs from, or is inconsistent with the physical sex they were born with.  This personal process may include undergoing medical procedures or, as is more likely for young people, it may simply include choosing to dress in a different way as part of the personal process of change.

The Equality Act uses the term ‘transsexual’ to refer to people with this characteristic.

Students and staff with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment are protected from

  • Direct discrimination (including discrimination based on perception or association)
  • Indirect discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Victimisation.

For staff, protection applies in recruitment and during all aspects of employment.

For students, protection applies in admissions, provision of education and access to any benefit, service or facility and exclusions.

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 may also be protected under the disability discrimination provisions of the Equality Act.

Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976

Applies in Northern Ireland

Gender reassignment is defined in the regulations as “a process which is undertaken under medical supervision for the purpose of reassigning a person’s sex by changing physiological or other characteristics of sex and includes any part of such a process.”  This means that an individual does not need to have undergone any specific treatment or surgery to be covered by the law.

The law prohibits direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the grounds of gender reassignment (sex change) in the fields of employment and training (includes higher education).

Staff are protected from unfair treatment in recruitment and during all aspects of employment.

Students are protected when pursuing a course of vocational training with a higher education provider.

Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998

Applies in Northern Ireland

The protected characteristic of gender reassignment is subject to the duty to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity between men and women.  This entails more than the elimination of discrimination and requires proactive measures to be taken to ensure equality for trans people in our policies and decision-making.