Gender identity policy

The University of Southampton recognises that there can be differences between physical sex and gender identity/expression. The University of Southampton will at no time discriminate against people on the grounds of transvestism, transsexualism, intersex conditions or any process of gender reassignment, begun or complete. Where this policy refers to ‘trans people’, it has in mind people living with any of these identities. When it refers to ‘gender identity’, it covers both the fixed identity of people living in the gender of their birth and the more fluid identities of many trans people. See Appendix 1 for a fuller explanation of terminology.

The University of Southampton celebrates and values the diversity of its workforce, and believes that the university will benefit from employing trans people at all levels of responsibility, thus hoping to provide role models for students who identify as trans. The University of Southampton will treat all employees and students with respect, and seek to provide a positive working and learning environment free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

The University of Southampton undertakes the following:

  • Students will not be denied access to courses, progression to other courses, or fair and equal treatment while on courses because of their gender identity.
  • The curriculum will be checked to ensure that it does not rely on or reinforce stereotypical assumptions about trans people, and that it does not contain transphobic material.
  • The University will respect the confidentiality of all trans staff and students and will not reveal information without the prior agreement of the individual.
    Staff will not be excluded from employment or promotion because of their gender identity.
  • Transphobic abuse, harassment or bullying (name-calling/derogatory jokes, unacceptable or unwanted behaviour, intrusive questions) is a serious disciplinary offence and will be dealt with under the University’s Dignity at Work and Study Policy. (Link to be inserted)
  • Transphobic propaganda, in the form of written materials, graffiti, music or speeches, will not be tolerated. The University undertakes to remove any such propaganda whenever it appears on the premises.
  • The University will provide a supportive environment for staff and students who wish their trans status to be known. However, it is the right of the individual to choose whether they wish to be open about their gender identity. To ‘out’ someone, whether staff or student, without their permission is a form of harassment and, possibly, a criminal offence. The University will include gender identity issues in equality training.
  • The University welcomes, and will provide, appropriate facilities for trans student and staff groups.
  • Having consulted with trans staff and students and the trans community, the University will include gender identity in internal attitudinal surveys, and when monitoring complaints of harassment.
  • In providing accommodation for students, any concerns or issues raised by trans students will be handled by the accommodation office and will be treated fairly and in line with the University’s obligations under equality law.
  • Staff and students undergoing medical and surgical procedures related to gender reassignment will receive positive support from their managers/tutors to meet their particular needs during this period.
  • The University recognises that trans staff and students come from diverse backgrounds, and will strive to ensure they do not face discrimination on the grounds of their gender identity or in relation to other aspects of their identity, for example, their race, age, religion, disability or sexual orientation. In addition, assumptions will not be made about the sex of partners of trans staff or students.
  • The University will ensure that its environment, in terms of its pictures, images, publicity materials and literature, reflects the diversity of its staff and students.

This statement is based on the Joint agreement on guidelines for transgender equality in employment in further education colleges (Association of Colleges et al, 2005).

Managing the transitioning process for students or staff

  1. A person identifies that their physical gender is not their actual gender
  2. The person informs the University that they want to transition to their preferred gender and commence a real-life experience
    • If the person is a member of staff they can raise this with their manager or HR Advisor.
    • If the person is a student an identified person from Student Services as appropriate meets with the individual. The transition is discussed and an action plan (including the support individuals will receive) with timescales is agreed.
  3. At the person’s request, the University updates its records to reflect any name change and their new gender
  4. A new file is created and any documents revealing their former name and gender that must be kept (for example pension records) are marked ‘confidential’.
  5. After at least 12 months of real life experience the person may undergo genital surgery.
  6. After two years of living in their chosen gender, whether or not they have undergone surgery, the person applies for a gender recognition certificate
  7. A gender recognition certificate is awarded and the person is issued with a new birth certificate. The person is now legally recognised in their chosen gender – all documents and references not already changed must now be changed
  8. If the person is a staff member who is a member of the institution’s pension scheme, they must send their new birth certificate to the appropriate person to ensure their gender is changed on pension records

Legislation relating to trans people

What legislation applies to transgendered people?

Legal protection against discrimination is an important foundation. There are a number of important pieces of legislation which will help protect people and cement the rights and responsibilities that they have.

There are two main pieces of legislation which apply to transgendered people – the Equality Act 2010 and the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1 October 2010. This important piece of legislation strengthened and streamlined equality legislation.

Much of the Act brought forward and streamlined previous legislation and created some new protections. The Equality Act 2010 provides explicit protection for transsexual people - people who are proposing to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone the process of changing their sex. These people have the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. Protection is provided from discrimination in employment, services and public functions.

The Act changed the law in several ways:

  • The definition of gender reassignment makes clear that a person does not have to be under medical supervision to be protected from discrimination;
  • It provides protection against direct discrimination that arises because the victim is wrongly perceived to be undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment. This may cover others within the wider transgender community;
  • Introduced a new public sector Equality Duty which is extended to cover gender reassignment in full. The Equality Duty will no longer be restricted to eliminating discrimination but will require public authorities to advance equality of opportunity for transsexual people;
  • Provides protection for people who experience discrimination because of their association with transsexual people, for example, as their partner;
  • Provides protection for transsexual people who are members or guests in a private members’ club. For example, a woman who is a member of a golf club, or visiting as a guest cannot be refused entry to the bar or be prevented from playing when others are allowed to because she has undergone gender reassignment.
  • While only transsexual people are explicitly protected under the Act if, however, a person who cross-dresses, for instance, is discriminated against because they are wrongly thought to be transsexual, they will be protected under the Act.

More information on the Equality Act 2010 can be found here.

Genuine Occupational Qualification

There are limited circumstances were it might be lawful to discriminate on the grounds of Gender Reassignment just as there are some situations were discrimination is legal on the grounds of sex. These include a role where a person’s sex is a Genuine Occupational Qualification (GOQ) for the role in question, for example:

  • employment that involve conducting intimate searches (e.g. the Police);
  • a role which involves working in a private home where intimate contact in these circumstances may be required (e.g. personal carer).

Gender Recognition Act

The Gender Recognition Act came into force in April 2005 and allows transsexual people to seek full legal recognition of their gender identity. It allows transsexual people to apply, through the Gender Recognition Panel, for a gender recognition certificate (GRC). This means that they:

  • for all legal purposes have the same rights and responsibilities associated with their gender identity;
  • can marry a person of the opposite gender/entitled to a civil partnership;
  • are eligible for the state retirement pension (and other benefits) at the age appropriate to the new gender;
  • can apply for a new birth certificate which does not disclose the fact that their gender has changed and in effect will be just as if it has always been that way.
  • If an employer dismisses an individual because of impending gender confirmation treatment, the employer would be breaking their duties under the Equality Act , just as it is illegal to dismiss a pregnant woman. There are no specific allowances within the regulations in terms of time off for transgender reassignment surgery. Transsexual people should be treated the same as anyone else living with a life-altering condition.
  • The Act also safeguards privacy by banning authorities disclosing information about their gender reassignment.

The Ministry of Justice holds responsibility for the Gender Recognition Act. Additional information can be found on the Gender Recognition Panel website on how to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate.

Useful Contacts

The Beaumont Society is a support network that promotes better understanding of the conditions of transgender, transvestism and gender dysphoria. www.beaumontsociety.org.uk

Depend is an organisation that offers free, confidential and non-judgmental advice, information and support to all family members, partners, spouses and friends of trans people www.depend.org.uk
• Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body with responsibility for protecting, enforcing and promoting equality across nine protected characteristics – age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, and sexual orientation. www.equalityhumanrights.com
• Forum on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality in Post-School Education was established in April 2007 to promote equality and good practice in employment and the provision of post-school education, with a specific focus on sexual orientation and gender identity, or transgender, equality issues. www.aoc.co.uk/en/Policy_and_Advisory_Work/employment/representation/forum_so_and_gi_equality.cfm
• Gender Identity Research and Education Society initiates, promotes and supports research, particularly to address the needs of people who have a strong and ongoing desire to live and be accepted in the gender in which they identify, although different from that assigned at birth. www.gires.org.uk
• The Gender Trust is recognised as an authoritative centre for professional people who encounter gender identity-related issues in the course of their work. In particular, this group includes employers, human resources officers, health workers and information services. National helpline: 0845 231 0505. www.gendertrust.org.uk
• Mermaids UK provides support and information for children and teenagers who are trying to cope with gender identity issues, and for their families and carers. www.mermaidsuk.org.uk
• Press for Change is a political lobbying and educational organisation that campaigns to achieve equal civil rights and liberties for all transgender people in the UK through legislation and social change. www.pfc.org.uk
• Transgender Zone is an online resource that covers all aspects of transgender issues, including a section specifically for female-to-male trans people. www.transgenderzone.com
• Equality Challenge Unit
Equality Challenge Unit supports the higher education sector to realise the potential of all staff and students whatever their race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and belief, or age, to the benefit of those individuals, higher education institutions and society. www.ecu.ac.uk

Useful downloads

What's related