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"Gender" rather than "gender reassignment" protected characteristic - does it matter?

(30 Posts)
LoftyLisa Thu 11-Feb-21 08:56:36

My employer (woke as fuck) keeps listing gender, rather than gender reassignment, as a protected characteristic. They do also list sex, and all the others in the Equalities Act (2010) accurately.
Is this worth pointing out? It's inaccurate, which is annoying, but what are the real implications? Sorry to be dense. Can anyone spell it out for me so I can decide whether to say anything? Many thanks.

OP’s posts: |
CaraDuneRedux Thu 11-Feb-21 09:01:32

In theory there's a difference, in practice not so much.

The protected characteristic of gender reassignment applies to anyone who already has a gender reassignment certificate or (and this is the crucial loophole) is in the process of getting one. So all you have to do as someone who identifies as trans is say "I'm starting the process of getting one" and I think you then have all the same legal protections as someone who has one.

Hence the Alex Drummonds and Pips Bunces of this world.

De facto, we already have self ID, even if de jure we pretend we don't.

It still might be worth pointing out that the wording of the actual law is gender reassignment. I'm all for fighting woke capture every inch of the way, and resisting attempts to replace actual law with Stonewall law.

Lougle Thu 11-Feb-21 09:02:47

The Equality Act says:

7Gender reassignment
(1)A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person's sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.
(2)A reference to a transsexual person is a reference to a person who has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.
(3)In relation to the protected characteristic of gender reassignment—
(a)a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a transsexual person;
(b)a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to transsexual persons.

Lougle Thu 11-Feb-21 09:05:13

I think "or other attributes of sex" is a huge loophole. If it's not physiological, then it must be psychological, surely? Therefore anyone who 'feels woman' can claim gender reassignment.

MildlyIrritatedOfChorley Thu 11-Feb-21 09:07:49

It is the law so I would point it out.

I would frame it as being important to protect people with a trans identity. Gender could mean anyone. Gender reassignment specifically means trans people. Getting it wrong "erases" trans people. The law is the law so get it right.

stickygotstuck Thu 11-Feb-21 09:08:35

I don't know OP, but I took part in a training event last year where the protected characteristic was always referred to as "gender identity". 'Sex' was not mentioned at all, and neither was the word 'reassignment'.

It bugged me no end for the three days it lasted. But I didn't say anything because I was there as an external supplier. If I'd worked there I'd have had to say something. Especially as people were being trained on related issues.

LoftyLisa Thu 11-Feb-21 09:55:16

Thanks all - this has been really helpful.

So technically you could reassign your own gender (being "about to start the process") daily to whichever gender you wish? If so, then I guess the wording doesn't matter anyway. Except that when stated as "gender", it looks to me more like it supercedes sex; it's always first on the list, with "sex or sexuality" right at the bottom. And the examples of discrimination given in training always seem to related solely to gender, not sex. I'll have a think about it. Thanks again!

OP’s posts: |
PopperUppleton Thu 11-Feb-21 10:03:28

Your employer does not have the authority to rewrite an Act of Parliament to suit its own ends. The Equality Act 2010 has not been updated, it has not been changed and is still the law of the land. Does your employer believe they are above the law and have greater powers than Parliament?

LoftyLisa Thu 11-Feb-21 10:08:36

Good point, @PopperUppleton.

I've just looked back, and actually it's sometimes "gender identity" they list. Still inaccurate, isn't it?

OP’s posts: |
ErrolTheDragon Thu 11-Feb-21 10:14:24

They're omitting or distorting the characteristic which explicitly protects transgender people from discrimination (relative to someone of their sex).

Odd thing for a supposedly 'woke' org to do - they should be falling over themselves to correct their mistake.

LoftyLisa Thu 11-Feb-21 10:21:41

They're omitting or distorting the characteristic which explicitly protects transgender people from discrimination (relative to someone of their sex).

Yes, this is very true. I will point it out, as this is training which goes out to many thousands of people.

OP’s posts: |
LoftyLisa Thu 11-Feb-21 10:26:12

Look what I just found on the Stonewall website, as a recommendation to the Select Committee:

A review of the Equality Act 2010 to include ‘gender identity’ rather than ‘gender reassignment’ as a protected characteristic and to remove exemptions, such as access to single-sex spaces

OP’s posts: |
MerchedCymru Thu 11-Feb-21 10:38:44

We are in the process of writing to a ton of public sector organisations in Wales to ask them to correct this wording. It's really important that they get it right.

Stonewall are pushing for gender or gender identity to be used instead of gender reassignment (and for sex to be omitted from the list). This might not seem like a big deal but it would essentially mean that the protected characteristics would expand to include any and all of the 100s of genders currently included under the trans umbrella. And anyone could decide to self-ID as any gender at any time, or change back again.

HR policies can't be based on an undefinable and endlessly fluid inner feeling. Gender reassignment is at least a formal legal process. And it's the law. Your employer is obliged to abide by it - they can't pick and choose or rewrite bits on a whim.

gardenbird48 Thu 11-Feb-21 11:01:14

I wonder if Stonewall are equally as casual with other parts of the law (or even other laws - will they decide that the speed limit doesn’t apply to them and their followers, or the drink drive laws?)

Now they have unilaterally and undemocratically redefined the gender reassignment pc will they move onto disability or race and come up with something that suits their own priorities?

The law is the law and I remain mystified that an organisation that is being paid government money is allowed to lie about the law on such a huge scale.

LoftyLisa Thu 11-Feb-21 11:07:56

Thanks, @MerchedCymruMerched and @gardenbird48.

This is more and more strange, the more I think about it. Why on earth take away the protected characteristic which protects people from being discriminated against on the basis of their trans status? I just don't get it. A wording change which no longer protects gender reassignment seems actively transphobic to me. This is not in the interests of trans people.

OP’s posts: |
Imnobody4 Thu 11-Feb-21 11:09:33

Stonewall are pushing for gender or gender identity to be used instead of gender reassignment (and for sex to be omitted from the list). This might not seem like a big deal but it would essentially mean that the protected characteristics would expand to include any and all of the 100s of genders currently included under the trans umbrella. And anyone could decide to self-ID as any gender at any time, or change back again.
This^^
It creates the space for non-binary, gender fluid etc to be placed on the same level of protection as sex.

CaraDuneRedux Thu 11-Feb-21 11:25:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gardenbird48 Thu 11-Feb-21 11:53:50

CaraDuneRedux

My work are busy reminding everyone to fill in the diversity monitoring form

Just had to point out to them that they appear to have missed out the protected characteristic of sex, which is particularly worrying (as I gleefully reminded them) given that they lost an equal ops pay claim a few years ago brought on the basis of sex discrimination.

Fuckers.

Haha well done 😃 this is where employers are going to have to tread very carefully as they are in danger of leaving them wide open for direct and indirect discrimination claims.

If I were companies that had paid Stonewall for training I would be more than a little narked that it had such potentially damaging inaccuracies (and doesn’t seem to be improving general acceptance or life for L,G or B. (I saw a recent survey somewhere can’t think where atm). I might be asking for my money back...

Well done for picking up on your issue @LoftyLisa and wanting to do something about it - this has all been deliberately kept under the radar so exposing and questioning by all of us will hopefully foil their dastardly scheme 💪🏼💪🏼

LoftyLisa Thu 11-Feb-21 12:14:57

This has just opened a bit of a can of worms for me.

A quick search has made me realise that the equal opportunities monitoring forms for entry into the (competitive) profession I work in include assessment of all the EA protected characteristics except for gender reassignment and sex (which are replaced with a single "gender" question), and pregnancy/maternity (which is replaced with a more general question about whether or not you have children).

So how could we possibly ever know if there was discrimination on the basis of: trans status; sex; maternity/pregnancy?

Aargh. Is this actually illegal?

OP’s posts: |
OhGodWhatTheHellNow Thu 11-Feb-21 12:33:46

My local county council correctly lists 'sex' and gender re-assignment' as protected characteristics on their website, but the same council has recently issued a new Strategic Equality Plan policy for schools, listing the protected characteristics but replacing sex with gender throughout. Presumably this could just be left hand - right hand stuff, but it never seems to happen the other way around - has anyone ever encountered gender re-assignment being mistakenly replaced with sex discrimination? Didn't think so. Bloody whack-a-mole with this.

I did raise this in my professional capacity but was, ahem, stonewalled.

MNnicknameforCVthreads Thu 11-Feb-21 13:11:30

I'd urge you to pursue all of this OP.

You, and others, may also be interested in this thread, if you haven't already seen it: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/4161334-Does-anyone-fancy-emailing-the-DWP

LoftyLisa Thu 11-Feb-21 13:19:50

What a useful thread, @MNnicknameforCVthreads - thank you.

I sort of wish I'd never encountered this now, as the more I look, the more crazy this gets - people are citing the EA, but then completely ignoring the protected characteristics they can't be bothered with...

OP’s posts: |
MNnicknameforCVthreads Thu 11-Feb-21 13:25:15

I know, its quite frightening really. I am going to let Baroness Nicholson know, she might take it on....

If you're not already familiar with her work in the feminist arena, give her a google - some threads on this board too re her work.

Keep us posted if you can @LoftyLisa

CharlieParley Thu 11-Feb-21 18:53:54

CaraDuneRedux

In theory there's a difference, in practice not so much.

The protected characteristic of gender reassignment applies to anyone who already has a gender reassignment certificate or (and this is the crucial loophole) is in the process of getting one. So all you have to do as someone who identifies as trans is say "I'm starting the process of getting one" and I think you then have all the same legal protections as someone who has one.

Hence the Alex Drummonds and Pips Bunces of this world.

De facto, we already have self ID, even if de jure we pretend we don't.

It still might be worth pointing out that the wording of the actual law is gender reassignment. I'm all for fighting woke capture every inch of the way, and resisting attempts to replace actual law with Stonewall law.

Sorry Cara, but this is incorrect.

A Gender Recognition Certificate or an application for a GRC are not necessary to be protected under the characteristic of gender reassignment. It originally referred to the process of "redesigning gender", i.e. socially transitioning to adopt the appearance and mannerism stereotypically coded for the opposite sex and/or medically transitioning, i.e. having medical treatment to change your body to resemble the opposite sex.

A person who says "I am trans" or "I identify as a man/woman/non-binary" etc is immediately protected under this characteristic. Neither the certificate nor an application, nor any actual transition is required.

In practice this means that if your employer is looking to promote someone in your team, and you're the best performer, then it's unlawful to promote someone over you because your employer thinks your clients will think you are not dressed appropriately for your sex (for instance).

PurpleHoodie Thu 11-Feb-21 18:57:44

PopperUppleton

Your employer does not have the authority to rewrite an Act of Parliament to suit its own ends. The Equality Act 2010 has not been updated, it has not been changed and is still the law of the land. Does your employer believe they are above the law and have greater powers than Parliament?

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