Do I understand the Equality Act correctly?

(13 Posts)
AtalantaRun Tue 08-Jun-21 13:24:52

I often get told in twitter exchanges etc that self ID has in fact been legal for "years" under the Equality Act. I am then usually directed to a page about how people cannot be discriminated against on the basis of gender reassignment. I think this is a good thing - no one should lose a job, or be denied access to housing or whatever just because they are undergoing or proposing to undergo gender reassignment. That's my understanding of that particular protected characteristic. I'd really like to know if my understanding of the act, which I'll try and lay out coherently below, is right or not. I always feel a bit shaky on it and don't want to go around making false arguments.

The way I see it is that when people make this argument they are conflating the protected characteristics of "sex" and "gender reassignment". They are usually implying for example that self ID already basically exists because you can't discriminate on the basis of gender reassignment, which therefore means trans people can already have access to single sex spaces because they can't be discriminated against. If that makes sense.

But my understanding is that when a space is single sex, the protected characteristic of sex comes into play. When a rape crisis shelter denies access to a transwomen, they are not discriminating based on gender reassignment, they are discriminating based on sex. The protected characteristic of gender reassignment really doesn't come into it at all, because the shelter is not refusing access because someone has or is planning to undergo gender reassignment, but because their legal sex is male (and the fact that they are just actually bloody men but I'm thinking about legalities here grin)

If a transwoman does not have a GRC, their legal sex is male and therefore they can be, in this example, discriminated against for a legitimate reason. Once they have a GRC, their legal sex is female and therefore, legally, they could enter that space and if they were refused they could potentially claim discrimination due to gender reassignment? Therefore, legal self ID is bad because bad actors can change legal sex easily and therefore sidestep the Equality Act.

It's like TRAs get things in the wrong order - that a protected characteristic means anyone with that characteristic cannot be told 'no' to anything at all because discrimination. When the nuance is in fact that the Equality Act is about WHY someone is being told no.

Have I gravely misunderstood the whole thing???

OP’s posts: |
MrsPnut Tue 08-Jun-21 13:27:30

The protected characteristic of gender reassignment means that someone cannot be treated less favourably than someone not undergoing gender reassignment but the comparator would be someone of the same sex.

So someone who undergoes gender reassignment who is male and wishes to be a transwoman would be compared to a male not undergoing gender reassignment for the purposes of the equality act.

BasicallyBookish Tue 08-Jun-21 13:33:34

i know more about the Equality Act and disability then sex but my take is the same as @MrsPnut.

OneEpisode Tue 08-Jun-21 13:35:34

Less favourably doesn’t mean the same. For example age is a protected characteristic but we are still allowed to divide children by age. There are also provisions where exemptions apply.

somethinginoffensive Tue 08-Jun-21 14:00:18

Once they have a GRC, their legal sex is female and therefore, legally, they could enter that space and if they were refused they could potentially claim discrimination due to gender reassignment?

I am not sure this is quite true. The exceptions by sex are allowed even if the person has a GRC. For example, a woman who gets a GRC so is legally male still can't inherit male titles that they would if they were actually male.

So the "for all purposes" in the GRA is not without exception.

Whatsnewpussyhat Tue 08-Jun-21 14:23:59

Why so you think Stonewall are slyly lobbying the government for the removal of the SEX based exemptions in the Equality Act?

It's because males don't have the right to access any and all single sex spaces, refuges, sports etc regardless of any GRC or identity. Sex is the priority. They can all be legally excluded in some circumstances and they hate it.

stumbledin Tue 08-Jun-21 14:53:33

WE really need this information somehow pinned at the top of FWR!

Under the EA it is legitimate, eg special services for women, to only provide services to biological women.

Liz Truss made a point of saying this some time ago.

This is why we had a long thread about a Rape Crisis Centre advertising a post under the EA and then appointing a trans woman.

Women only spaces that are covered by the EA do not have to admit trans women, whether they have transitioned, hold a GRC or self identify.

I am not sure of the exact wording that should be used but in terms of jobs it is something like: This post is restricted to female applicants only under Section 9 of the Equality Act 2010. And presumably a similar phrase is used in relation to services.

And despite what trans activists might tell you many, many jobs with women's groups are advertised on this basis. See

I think it is harder for groups to argue this, but there was a thread on here from someone who was part of setting up a group for lesbians. And after some time and submitting various bits of paper work they are now legally able to be women only.


stumbledin Tue 08-Jun-21 14:58:05

Have found the Liz Truss quote. In fact it is a statement to Parliament so well worth hanging onto the link:

" ... The Equality Act 2010 clearly protects transgender people from discrimination. The same act allows service providers to restrict access to single sex spaces on the basis of biological sex if there is a clear justification. ... "

motogogo Tue 08-Jun-21 15:03:01

Less favourably doesn't mean the same. The equalities act exists primarily to prevent any of us being told we can't do xxxx because we are male, female, trans, disabled, black, white, etc. but it's written in a way to allow discrimination in very limited circumstances and allows variation where appropriate eg providing separate changing facilities. Nobody should be fired from work for instance because they are trans but a refuge organisation should be allowed to have segregated facilities (but male and trans facilities are needed as they experience domestic violence too!)

PearPickingPorky Tue 08-Jun-21 16:40:43

Once they have a GRC, their legal sex is female and therefore, legally, they could enter that space and if they were refused they could potentially claim discrimination due to gender reassignment?

They could, but it's likely that it would be justified because the GRC doesn't actually change your sex for ALL purposes. The GRA says "for all purpose [...] except [X, Y, Z]". Eg "gender-affected sport" (should be sex).

Another aspect of the GR PC, for example, females can get IVF with donor sperm on the NHS. Female people who are 'legally male' can also get it, because they are biologically female. To say no would be discrimination against the transman on the basis of GR.

stumbledin Tue 08-Jun-21 17:46:08

Sorry - I've just posted what the legal rights are for single sex.

If you think that is wrong you are going to have to lobby the Government and Parliament to change it.

The mere fact that the EA allows women only to be based on biological sex just illustrates that in reality you can not change sex.

The only issue is whether the circumstances on which you want single sex provisions can be descrived as being relevant.

This IS the current definition of the law.

Can we stop having these threads that ask the question over and over again.

Please make a note of the link to Liz Truss' statement to Parliament.

Single sex meand single biological sex.

This is why trans activists want to get sex deleted as a protect characteristic because despite the legal lie of the GRA they know you can not change sex.

AtalantaRun Tue 08-Jun-21 19:09:46

I'm sorry for asking the question. I have read a lot about this, mostly from Fair Play For Women but just hoped to talk more about it and understand it more thoroughly, particularly in terms of how sex and gender reassignment are muddled. I feel like there must be a clear way seeing through this that's not just parroting the law back as the people who would argue it don't hear it.

For example I get sent things like this from this page of the EHRC website and don't really know what to make of it. I don't see why gender identity is mentioned at all? Is it because until v recently they were Stonewall Diversity Champions, another example of 'saying the law as you would like it, not as it is' type thing?

"a service provider provides single-sex services. If you are accessing a service provided for men-only or women-only, the organisation providing it should treat you according to your gender identity. In very restricted circumstances it is lawful for an organisation to provide a different service or to refuse the service to someone who is undergoing, intends to undergo or has undergone gender reassignment"

Anyway I appreciate you have all discussed it a lot, apologies for raising it again.

OP’s posts: |
OneEpisode Tue 08-Jun-21 19:41:42

Anne Sinnott’s case achieved some understanding. So the “should” is followed by a “in very rare circumstances”.
And it’s “should” not “must”.
I am a female of no religion and in almost all circumstances I should be treated the same as a male Catholic. The exemptions are rare, but do exist.

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