Transgender flag made with coloured chalk

Transgender discrimination

All trans teachers and educational professionals have specific protection from discrimination at work on grounds of sex and transgender status under the Equality Act 2010, as well as from the unlawful disclosure of transgender status. 

Discrimination claim time limits

You are protected whether you are a man or a woman, before, during or after your gender reassignment. You are protected if you live your life in the gender opposite to your birth gender, whether or not you are under medical supervision. 

Discrimination because you are perceived as proposing to undergo, to be undergoing or to have undergone gender reassignment, or because you associate with someone who is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone gender reassignment, will be unlawful. You are protected whether you are permanent, fixed-term, full-time, part-time, supply or agency.

Your colleagues, managers and governors are prohibited from discriminating against you. If you are an agency worker 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.

What is transgender discrimination?

Gender reassignment is the medical and social process whereby you change your birth sex to match your gender identity. The term includes any part of the process.

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

The protection extends specifically to absences from work to enable you to undergo gender reassignment. You must not be treated less favourably than you would have been treated had you been absent for another reason such as sickness or injury. Any rules on absences from work must be applied equally. 

When you are protected

Protection starts from the time that you propose to undergo gender reassignment rather than when any treatment actually starts.

You are protected from transgender discrimination before, during and after your employment. There should be no unlawful discrimination in recruitment including advertisements, shortlisting and interview procedures; pay including pensions; terms and conditions of employment; access to training; opportunities for promotion; transfers; dismissals; and after your employment has ended, for example, in the provision of references. 

What is covered

A refusal to accept your acquired gender would be discriminatory.

Refusing to appoint you to a post in a school or college due to concerns about parents' reactions would be discriminatory. Disciplining you for being absent for a month to undergo gender reassignment would be discriminatory if your colleagues are not disciplined for being off sick for a month. If you are treated less favourably on the basis that you have changed your appearance to match your gender identity, this may be unlawful.

Subjecting a teacher or educational professional to verbal or physical harassment on grounds of transgender status is unlawful.

What is not covered

Treatment that is nothing to do with your transgender status, which the employer can show is wholly and genuinely for a non-discriminatory reason, or treatment which lawfully can be justified by the employer, will not be unlawful. Treatment that you might feel is unfair will not necessarily be discriminatory.

The legal definition is limited to gender reassignment and does not cover discrimination on grounds that you are, for example, a man or a woman or a transvestite person. If you are treated less favourably on grounds of your birth sex or your acquired sex, this is sex discrimination not transgender discrimination.

Employers may use 'positive action' to encourage applications for vacancies from groups of people who are under-represented in the workforce or at a particular grade in the workforce. Employers may use ‘tie-break’ provisions to appoint an individual from an under-represented group if two candidates are as qualified as each other for a post. Contact the NEU if you need advice on an employer's use of positive action.

Employers sometimes specify that it is an occupational requirement that a post is held by an individual with a particular equality characteristic. This option is rarely used in the education sector, but contact the NEU if you think that it has been used inappropriately to your disadvantage.

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