Anyone reading this will by now surely have read Zoe Brain’s post about the UK Equality Act 2010. I may have missed this but what I haven’t seen discussed yet is how this would would in practice. Bills pushed through in a hurry without proper scrutiny tend to make bad laws and this one may be no exception.
Lets have a look at the two examples given alongside the act:
A group counselling session is provided for female victims of sexual assault. The organisers do not allow transsexual people to attend as they judge that the clients who attend the group session are unlikely to do so if a male-to-female transsexual person was also there. This would be lawful.
So, someone looking a bit less than feminine – and there’s nothing like abuse to give you very unfeminine body language, can’t even begin to imagine what serious sexual assault would do – walks in to a counselling session in their stereotypical combat boots and ripped jeans and is told “Sorry, you can’t be here, you’re clearly transsexual”. What if they’re not? It’s impossible to prove one is cisgendered, so by doing this you’re basically discriminating not based on gender reassignment status but on appearance. In the case of someone who is a butch lesbian, it could be argued that you’re discriminating based on sexuality so you’ve broken the law.
The second example reads:
A counsellor working with victims of rape might have to be a woman and not a transsexual person, even if she has a gender recognition certificate, in order to avoid causing them further distress.
Same problem occurs here. If you don’t know someone is or isn’t trans, can you discriminate before you employ them? Not without discriminating against a significant portion of the LGB population, I suspect. After employing them, if you know but only because you saw a copy of their Gender Recognition Certificate, the Gender Recognition Act says you can’t out that person so you can’t say or do anything that would imply they’re trans. (No matter how obvious it might be)
Unless I’ve missed something, this may be an issue that will impact more LGB people than T people, so perhaps something we can enlist help campaigning on?