EHRC Equality Act meeting – any questions?

On Monday, there is a meeting at the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to do with Trans-related aspects of the Equalities Act 2010 and I shall be there. It’s more a chance I think for them to tell us about the act and us ask questions rather than try to influence future policy, but I am told we’ll be able to “raise issues and concerns”. If anyone has any points they’d like me to raise, please let me know either by commenting below or via E-Mail – contact details are on my “About/Contact” page.

Feel free to use a pseudonym and are stealth or would like to comment anonymously. Although I won’t stop anyone from doing so, I’d prefer people didn’t just use names like “Anonymous” though because then I can’t figure out who is who in future!

Issues I’m currently thinking of bringing up are: (In no particular order)

  • The apparent conflict between the Gender Recognition Act and Equalities Act in respect of GRCs: The former says you can’t be discriminated against in employment once you have one, the latter says you can. I know the EHRC have already been talking to legal people about this but I’ve not seen any conclusions.
  • Concerns that the Code of Practice apparently says you need to pass to get full protection, which I would argue is not a desirable state of affairs.
  • Application of the Act in practice. We’re told that it would be illegal to operate a blanket ban on Trans people accessing services such as rape counseling and single-sex wards in Hospitals, but we’ve already seen in the case of Nina Kanagasingham that some parts of the state still continue to operate what appears to amount to a blanket ban if you don’t have a GRC.
  • Sarah is also going and planning on asking about PCTs restricting gender services to a single provider. This may be indirect discrimination against Trans folk as they can only do this as Gender Reassignment services are run by mental health services.

7 comments

  1. If people need to pass for the full protection of the Equality Act, does that mean it doesn’t apply to people who are unable to pass due to society not having a template for what a non-binary person should look like? Or does it just not apply to non-binary people full stop?

    1. Non-binary identities are not discussed in the act or it’s notes, but in many cases (employment where gender is irrelevant for example) I would expect it to still be covered – it is a form of gender reassignment, after all.

      It probably depends on individual situations – someone engaging in “genderf**k” (I don’t know a phrase that doesn’t involve the f-word to express that concept) is facing a different set of issues perhaps from someone who tries to go for complete androgyny. (I prefer presenting as the latter when I’m in a non-binary mood, personally)

      There’s a degree of genital existentialism too, as the act refers to how well someone passes naked, although I would imagine that only comes into play in situations where someone could be seen naked.

  2. From the explanatory notes:

    “A clergyman in the Church of England advises an engaged couple that he will not solemnise their marriage as he reasonably believes that one of the couple has acquired his or her gender under the Gender Recognition Act 2004. This would not be unlawful discrimination because of gender reassignment.”

    What counts as “reasonable belief”? Does this mean that a clergyman could refuse to conduct any marriage, by stating that he has a “reasonable belief” that one of the partners is trans, regardless of whether this is the case?

    1. It would be down to a court to decide on reasonable belief in any particular situation, but it certainly gives a clergyman grounds to refuse to conduct a marriage for potentially spurious reasons.

  3. Also from the explanatory notes:

    “Only ground close-combat roles requiring Service personnel to deliberately close with and kill the enemy face-to-face are confined to men. Women and
    transsexual people are, therefore, currently excluded from the Royal Marines General Service, the Household Cavalry and Royal Armoured Corps, the Infantry and the Royal Air Force Regiment only.”

    Why are these roles confined to cis men? Also, why do the explanatory notes not consider trans people to be men and women?

    1. That’s an odd one, because it only allows discrimination and doesn’t mandate it. In practice it’s down to actual Armed Forces policy which is somewhat more detailed and, largely thanks to GIRES, much better. I would suspect that trans men would in fact be allowed to serve with Infantry in most situations and there are also women in some Army Infantry regiments via an old loophole in the regulations. (OK, so the women in Infantry regiments often end up looking like Vasquez from Aliens to meet the physical requirements, but nothing wrong with that…)

      Also, why do the explanatory notes not consider trans people to be men and women?

      That’s the problem with the whole thing, really…

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