Gender reassignment is a reference to transgender people, whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. To be protected from gender reassignment discrimination, the individual does not have to have actually undergone any medical treatment or surgery. They are protected from both direct and indirect discrimination (as well as harassment and victimisation) if they want to change their gender, if they are in the process of it (sometimes known as transitioning), or if they have merely decided to adopt the identity of the chosen gender without having medical treatment.
Employees (or job applicants and prospective employees) must not be treated differently, unfairly or less favourably because of the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. The law provides protection from:
- Direct discrimination (being treated less favourably).
- Indirect discrimination (being at a disadvantage because of a seemingly neutral provision, criterion or practice (PCP)).
- Victimisation (being subjected to a detriment because of a complaint about discrimination or assisting a victim of discrimination i.e. by being a witness for them or a ‘companion’ at meetings).
- Harassment (being subjected to unwanted conduct, which violates dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment).
To reduce the risk of gender reassignment discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and to ensure an inclusive workforce, it is important that there is good communication between employer and individual. Clear communication can help employers handle an individual’s specific needs with sensitivity, when discussing how the individual would like to be addressed, when talking about whether the individual would like their colleagues to know about their gender identity or reassignment, and when making arrangements both in the workplace and/or for time off.