The NEU Trans Equality Toolkit provides information for education staff on transitioning in school/college.

This know-your-rights guide is primarily to support trans education professionals who are proposing to transition at work. The National Education Union wants to support trans education professionals in the workplace and to help make your transition at work as smooth as possible. We also want to raise awareness of the issues that trans education professionals face in the workplace; we therefore encourage school leaders and other educational professionals to familiarise themselves with the issues outlined in our suite  of documents.

Transitioning at work - know your rights

What we say

When you read through this document you may have questions about what happens in your particular workplace and there may be collective issues that affect other members.

If you are comfortable to do so, you can discuss workplace matters with your workplace rep initially as they will know whether similar concerns have been raised by other members. If you are not comfortable discussing your concerns with your rep, we recommend that you approach your regional office/NEU Cymru.  If you do not have a rep at the moment, it would be a good idea to get members together to elect one.

There is a network of trans education professionals within the NEU that the region/NEU Cymru can put you in touch with.

Protection from discrimination and harassment

All trans education professionals have specific protection from discrimination at work on grounds of gender reassignment under the Equality Act 2010. The protection covers direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. You are protected before, during or after your transition, whether or not you are under medical supervision.

Although referred to in the Equality Act 2010 the terms ‘gender reassignment’ and ‘transsexual’ are now considered by many to be outdated and misleading. Medical intervention is not necessary for you to be protected by the act.

You are also protected whether you are a permanent, fixed term, full-time, part-time, supply or agency worker. Your colleagues, managers and governors are prohibited from discriminating against you. If you are an agency worker working on a day to day or longer term contract, your agency and the hirers for whom you are working are prohibited from discriminating against you.

Treating you less favourably at work than another colleague in similar circumstances on grounds that you propose to undergo, are undergoing, or have undergone any part of the process of gender reassignment would be discriminatory. There is no need for you to show that you propose to or have undergone surgery or hormone treatment.

Schools, colleges, local authorities and multi-academy trusts have a statutory duty to be proactive in eliminating discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity for staff and pupils. They must assess the impact of their policies and procedures on the people affected by them and take steps to remove any barriers that come to light where it is proportionate to do so. Contact your workplace rep, local secretary, or local equality officer if you want to get involved in reviewing the equality impact of policies and procedures in your workplace.

Gender recognition

Trans education professionals do not need to have a gender recognition certificate to qualify for employment rights protections and not all trans people apply for gender recognition. Some people apply for a certificate so that they can change the sex indicated on their birth certificate and secure recognition for all legal purposes as their acquired gender.

Adults can apply for legal recognition of their acquired gender under the Gender Recognition Act 2004. A gender recognition panel will assess an application against a set of criteria before awarding a gender recognition certificate. Applicants must provide evidence that they have a clinical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, that they have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years, and that they have declared that they intend to live in that gender permanently.

They must also provide evidence that they have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years, and that they have declared that they intend to live in that gender permanently.

You shouldn’t be asked if you have a gender recognition certificate by your employer and your employer should not ask to see a gender recognition certificate.

Your employer also has a specific duty not to disclose information on your gender history or your transgender status. It is a criminal offence to disclose a person’s gender history or transgender status without authority.

Gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is a clinical term for when someone experiences a mismatch between their sex and their gender identity. Discomfort and distress can come from hiding their identity, prejudice and discrimination, and/or not being supported.

Who to tell

You are not required to tell your employer or colleagues about your intention to transition. The choice is yours and yours alone. If you do decide to disclose your intention to transition, or if you need advice on whether to disclose your intention, we recommend that you approach your regional office/NEU Cymru.

If you do decide to disclose your intention to transition at work, please also consider discussing your intention with your NEU workplace rep. You may or may not wish to involve or consult with your rep in the early stages but we recommend that you let your rep know your plans once you have agreed these with your employer.

When you are ready to disclose your intention to transition, you should first inform your line manager or an HR colleague. You should discuss with them who will be the main point of contact to help manage your transition from the organisation’s perspective.

You should discuss with your contact how and when you plan to tell the wider school community. This will include the school management, the teaching and support staff, the school governing body, your students and their parents/carers. You should be involved in developing your Transition Care Plan (see the NEU checklist on Transition Care Plans) and should be involved in every stage of the communication. You should consider whether you wish to inform colleagues and if so how will this be done, whether you wish to inform colleagues yourself or whether you would prefer someone do it for you. You also need to consider whether you wish to inform students and parents/carers and if so, how and when will this be communicated.

We recommend that you build into your plan, communication with your NEU workplace rep, and your local branch and regional or national office. In our experience, it is useful for your union support network to be aware of your plans in the event that local media take an interest in your transition. As we have said, your transition is your private concern, but it is best to be prepared for outside interest in your private matters.

When to begin transition

You should discuss with your contact when you would like your transition at work to start. Transitioning mid-term may produce certain challenges. There may be an increased chance of increased stress on you.

Make sure that your contact is aware that transition can be a long process and there are some aspects of the timing of treatment over which you will have no control.

Transitioning at the beginning of a new term or year is sometimes preferred as it gives you breathing space in the holiday break. It also allows adequate time for records or admin to be brought in line, so there should be no confusion when you return to work with a possible new name.

Records

Information on your gender reassignment and your gender history is considered to be sensitive information under the Data Protection Act 1998. This information should not be disclosed by your employer without your authority. As we said above, it is a criminal offence to disclose some information without authority.

You should discuss with your contact how and when your school or college employment records will be amended to reflect any change in your name, your gender and your title. No outward facing communications, for example your school website, should refer to your previous name, gender or title. All records, name badges, door signs and internal communications should reflect your changed name, gender and title.

If you apply for a gender recognition certificate, your employer must amend all historical employment records to reflect your recognised identity.

If you are a member of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, the provider has advised us that they are able to change the gender on a pension record as soon as they receive either the gender recognition certificate from the Gender Recognition Panel or the new birth certificate issued by the registrar.

If you happen to require a fresh DBS certificate during or after your transition, we suggest that you contact the dedicated sensitive application team for advice .

pronouns

Names/pronouns

Pronouns are the words we use which can depend on a person’s gender. Pronouns used correctly are one of the easiest ways to show respect for someone’s identity. Some people use ‘he’ and ‘she’, while some prefer gender-neutral pronouns like ‘they’. You can ask ‘what are your pronouns?

You should let your contact know whether and when you are planning to change your name and what pronouns you will be using. You should discuss how you wish colleagues, students and parents/carers to be informed of your name and pronouns.  You are entitled to be addressed by the name and pronouns that correspond to your gender identity at all times. Be prepared for mistakes to be made in the early days. Deliberate and persistent mis-gendering or addressing you by your previous names, however, is likely to amount to harassment which you may wish to challenge more formally.

Facilities

You should discuss your wishes regarding toilets with your contact. You should let your contact know what would make you most comfortable. If your employer agrees that what you want is realistic and possible, then you should arrange for this to be included in your transition plan.

You should be free to use the toilet facilities that correspond with your gender identity. If you don’t wish to use the facilities that correspond with your gender identity immediately, you should incorporate your use of facilities into your transition plan. If you have anxiety issues connected with gender dysphoria, you may wish to use another facility separate from other staff for a period of time. If you identify as non-binary, or neither male or female, gender-neutral facilities should be available. Your transition plan will be unique to you. Whatever plans you make, you should not be told that you must use the facilities that correspond with the gender you were assigned at birth.

Dress code

The NEU believes that there is no need for dress codes to refer to gender. Most dress codes for staff are gender neutral. Some schools and colleges have dress codes that specify different codes for men and women. If there is such a code in your school or college you should discuss with your contact whether a gender neutral uniform should be offered to all workers.

Time off/absences

You should discuss your anticipated absences associated with your transition with your contact. The nature of your transition will determine the frequency and length of your absences.

You may need time off for a series of clinical appointments; you may need time off to attend counselling. Longer less frequent absences might be necessary for hormone treatment or surgery and convalescence.

Protection under the Equality Act extends specifically to absences from work to enable you to undergo gender reassignment; this can include medical or social transition. You must not be treated less favourably than you would have been treated had you been absent for another reason or because of sickness or injury. Any rules on absences from work must be applied equally. Absences relating to your transition should not be used to your detriment to deny pay progression or promotion.

The NEU has successfully argued on behalf of trans education professionals that absence related to transitioning would not be counted for the purposes of sickness absence monitoring.

Appraisal, objective setting & pay progression

As we have said, when you discuss your plan with your contact, you should discuss your transition and possible absences. You should raise the fact that you intend to take time off in relation to your transition  when you agree your appraisal objectives. If your objectives have already been set, you should ask for your objectives to be adjusted to take account of your proposed absence.

Your employer should not cite absences related to your transition to justify not awarding pay progression.

Where can I find more information?

If you need further advice, please contact your workplace representative in the first instance.

You may also seek advice and guidance from your regional office/NEU Cymru.

Transition care plan

This draft Transition Care Plan (TCP) addresses some of the action points you may need to put in place during an employee’s transition. The needs of each employee must be addressed individually and no two transitions will be the same.

The drafting of the TCP can be led by the employee, with their agreed main point of contact and a trade union representative present, if the employee requests their attendance. 

Before Workplace Transition:

  • Employee advises manager/HR that they wish to transition and agrees the main  point of contact who will manage the transition from the organisations perspective. 
  • Make employee aware of all transgender related policies and the availability of  any support.
  • Draft the TCP which could include the points below:
    1. Intended date when and how the employee will transition at work, for example, changing their gender presentation, name, pronouns, using different facilities.
    2. What amendments will need to be made to records, systems, email addresses?
    3. Employee and main point of contact agree timescales, activity, and communications. The employee and their main point of contact should discuss who will need to know about the employee’s transition and agree a timeframe  for communication.
    4. Does the employee wish to inform colleagues? If so how will this be done,  do they wish to inform colleagues themselves or would they prefer someone  do it for them?
    5. Does the employee wish to inform students and parents? If so how and when  will this be communicated?
    6. Is your organisation’s dress code inclusive?
    7. Discuss and agree any absence.
    8. What, if any, training will be required for staff and the school/college community?
    9. Consider if there are any implications for pensions, insurance and retirement.
    10. How to handle any issues, discrimination or harassment.  

Day of public transition

  • Make sure that the employee has everything they need, ID badge and photo  if necessary.
  • If agreed with employee make sure staff have been briefed.
  • Arrange support for the employee if necessary.

Ongoing support

  • Regular risk assessments.
  • Check in to see how the employee is progressing. Does the TCP need updating  or revising?
  • Amend all existing policy and practices to ensure they are trans inclusive and remove gendered language where unnecessary.

Transitioning at work - creating a policy 

People are more productive when they can be open about themselves at work. Many transgender people make the decision not to disclose their trans status or trans history because of fear of discrimination, prejudice or not believing an organisation is adequately prepared for someone who intends to transition. An organisation that nurtures diversity, including diversity of gender identities makes sure that staff are recruited and retained. Diverse workplaces benefit everybody.

For the purposes of this policy the term trans will be used throughout. Trans is an umbrella term to describe a range of people whose gender identities are not the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.

The workplace is a crucial environment for someone who intends to transition. Every school and college should have a policy in place to support employees who intend  to transition. Making sure your organisation proactively has the support mechanisms  in place will ensure both the employee and your organisation has a positive transition. 

The following policy gives guidance on addressing the needs of trans employees.  It clarifies how the policy should be implemented and how to protect the legal rights  and safety of trans employees. This policy will only be useful and effective if staff know about it, understand it and, when necessary, use it. Training on the contents of the policy is also important and should form part of the induction of all new members of staff.  The policy does not anticipate every situation that may arise nor does it act as a definitive guide to transitioning in the workplace.

The needs of each trans employee must be addressed individually and no two transitions will be the same. The most important piece of advice this document can give is to let the transition be led by the person transitioning.  

transitioning

Transitioning.

Transitioning describes the steps a trans person may take to live in the gender they identify with. Every person’s transition is unique and will involve different things. There is a lot of focus on medical transitions, but not all trans people want or can access hormone therapy and surgeries.

Transition may involve purely social aspects such as telling friends,  family and colleagues, dressing differently, and changing names, pronouns and/or official documents. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to transition. A person’s transition is private, so it is inappropriate to ask questions about trans people’s bodies.

Policy statement for your workplace

Get your employer to adopt this policy:

This organisation is committed to the inclusion of trans employees by creating a safe environment where trans employees are supported, treated with dignity and respect and can express their gender identity freely.

This organisation recognises the benefits and experiences that trans employees can bring to the workforce and will ensure that any employee intending to transition will be supported, valued and treated with dignity and respect. We understand that every person’s transition is unique.

This policy has been agreed following consultation with recognised trade unions and will be reviewed every 2 years’ subject to further consultation.

Scope

This policy is relevant to all members of staff who intend to transition. All employees and governors and academy trustees have a responsibility to comply with this policy.

All employees should report any breaches of policy that they witness, whether by colleagues, or other third parties, to their line manager immediately.

Legislation

Trans employees are protected by two key pieces of legislation:

Equality Act 2010:  Outlaw’s discrimination related to the protected characteristic of Gender Reassignment.

If an employee identifies that they have gender dysphoria and the condition has a substantial and long-term adverse impact on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities, they may also be protected under the provisions in the Equality Act 2010 relating to the protected characteristic of disability

Gender Recognition Act 2004: Allows trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate and have the correct gender marker on their birth certificate

In addition to these two pieces of legislation, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the General Data Protection Regulation (Data Protection Act 1998) are also relevant to trans employees.

Transition care plan

There is no requirement for an employee to tell their employer or colleagues about their intention to transition, or for the employer or colleagues to ask questions about a

person’s trans status or history. It is unlawful to disclose an employee’s trans history or status without their explicit consent

Any employee who decides to disclose their intention to transition should, having discussed their plan with their union support network inform their line manager or HR colleague and agree a main point of contact that will help manage the transition from the organisations perspective.

A Transition Care Plan (TCP) will be put in place so both parties can confirm the detail and timing of key dates and actions before, during and after the employee’s transition. This process will be led by the employee and no action will be taken without their explicit prior consent. The TCP is a commitment from this organisation to support the employee at all stages of their transition, act in their best interests and in accordance with their wishes. 

The drafting of the TCP can be led by the employee, with their agreed main point of contact and a trade union representative present, if the employee requests their attendance. 

The TCP is a completely confidential document and access is restricted to named persons approved by the employee and with their permission.

The TCP will be reviewed at each significant stage of the employee’s transition or more frequently if necessary. All actions will be taken in consultation with the employee transitioning.

Privacy

This organisation supports trans employees in making decisions about who, when and how they share information about their trans status, history or gender identity and recognises employees’ rights to discuss their gender identity and transition openly if they choose to do so or keep that information private.

It is important to know that it is unlawful to disclose an employee’s trans history or status without their explicit consent. Management, HR staff and colleagues must not disclose any information that may reveal an employee’s trans status or intention to transition.

Any breaches of confidentially regarding an employee’s trans status or history will be treated in a serious manner and dealt with under the bullying & harassment policy and disciplinary procedure. You may wish to state where this policy can be found and how it can be accessed.

Should colleagues and the school community learn of or be informed about an employees’ intention to transition, this organisation is committed to supporting the individual in managing this situation.

pronouns

Names / pronouns

Pronouns are the words we use which can depend on a person’s gender. Pronouns used correctly are one of the easiest ways to show respect for someone’s identity. Some people use ‘he’ and ‘she’, while some prefer gender-neutral pronouns like ‘they’. You can ask ‘what are your pronouns?

Employees will be addressed by the name and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity and that they have requested to be used at all times. Intentionally and persistently misgendering or using colleagues’ previous names would amount to harassment and will not be tolerated.

Breaches of this policy will be treated in a serious manner and dealt with under the bullying & harassment policy and disciplinary procedure.

Records

Any employee wishing to change their pronouns, name or gender does not need a Gender Recognition Certificate or an updated birth certificate to do so. 

Upon request of the employee this organisation shall update all records, including archived records with the employee’s new details. Any name badges, signs, photographs or email addresses will be updated immediately.

Where archival records cannot be updated or replaced, or cannot be updated without a Gender Recognition Certificate, which includes pensions and insurance, these records will be kept separate from the records of other staff and will only be accessed by named persons approved by the employee and with their permission.

Facilities

Employees do not require a Gender Recognition Certificate or to have undergone any medical procedures to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

Where single sex facilities are available, employees can use those which correspond with their gender identity without fear of bullying or harassment.

Trans employees will never be asked to use accessible or unisex facilities exclusively unless they are preferred by the employee. If possible, gender neutral facilities will be made available for employees who prefer to use unisex facilities.

Dress code and work wear 

This organisation fully supports employees who wish to change their gender presentation. Employees have the right to follow the organisations dress code that is consistent with their gender identity. You may wish to state where the dress code can be found and how it can be accessed.

Where an employee is required to wear uniform, employees can wear the uniform that corresponds with their gender identity. This organisation will ensure that the employee has access to a new uniform well in advance of their intended transition.

If possible gender-neutral uniforms  should be made available and the organisation’s dress code should not prescribe specific dress code for men and women.

Time off/absences

This organisation appreciates that every person’s transition is unique, can involve many different aspects and that time off work will vary according to the needs of the individual.

Any absence associated with an employee’s transition will be treated in the same way as sick pay and leave entitlements. Time off related to the employee’s transition will not be used against employees when considering them for promotion or pay progression. 

Employees intending to transition should give as much notice as possible when requiring time off related to their transition, however this organisation understands that waiting times for appointments may delay timescales and this is out of the control of the employee.

Individuals may need to take leave at short notice to attend additional appointments and, wherever possible, this organisation will be flexible.

Occupational health/employee assistance programmes

Employees who intend to transition will be offered the opportunity to be referred to Occupational Health for advice and support. Occupational Health is able to offer support and counselling for employees who may be experiencing emotional distress during before or after their transition. 

This organisation will ensure that  health and safety planning includes regular Risk Assessments for trans employees such as providing a stress assessment for an individual trans member.

Employees are able to discuss any requirements or adjustments they may need with their line manager, HR staff or main point of contact.    

You may wish to state details of any employee assistance programmes available.

Harassment

Harassment from any member of staff or the school/college community because of an employee’s gender identity or trans status will not be tolerated. All employees should be alert to and report any form of harassment to their line manager and not allow it to escalate.

Harassment of transgender employees will be treated in a serious manner and dealt with under the bullying & harassment policy and disciplinary procedure.

Grievances

Any employee who believes that they have a complaint should report it as soon as possible. The issue will be investigated in a timely manner and, where necessary, action will be taken under the relevant policy and procedures.

Training

This organisation will provide regular awareness training to all members of staff as part of our commitment to eradicating the stigmatisation of transgender communities in the workplace.

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