Discrimination on the ground of gender reassignment under the Equality Act 2010

What does the Act prohibit?

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination (whether direct or indirect), harassment and victimisation on the ground of a person’s gender reassignment.

What is direct discrimination?

Direct discrimination occurs where a person treats another person less favourably than he or she treats or would treat others on grounds of gender reassignment.

What is indirect discrimination?

Indirect discrimination occurs where a provision, criterion or practice puts persons whose gender has been reassigned at a disadvantage.

Conduct which can be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim is, however, permitted.

What is harassment?

Harassment occurs where a person is subjected to unwanted conduct related on grounds of their gender reassignment which has the purpose or effect of violating their dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him.

What is victimisation?

Victimisation occurs where a person is subjected to a detriment by reason of the fact that he has (or it is believed that he has or may) carried out one of the following acts:

  • brought or given evidence or information in proceedings brought under the Act;

  • the doing of something for the purposes of or in connection with the Act.

  • made an allegation that a person has contravened the Act.

However, the giving of false evidence or information, or the making of a false allegation is not protected by the Act if it is given or made in bad faith.

Who does the Act protect?

The Act protects persons who are proposing to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning their sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex. The process need not involve a medical procedure. A man who decides to live permanently as a woman will, therefore, be protected. Such persons are commonly referred to as transsexuals.

A person who cross-dresses but does not intend to live permanently as a member of the opposite sex will not be protected by the Act. However, if they are wrongly perceived to be a transsexual they will be protected by the Act if they are discriminated against, harassed or victimised by reason of the misperception.

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For more information on:

  • In what circumstances does the Act apply?
  • Employment
  • Other areas of protection
  • How is the Act enforced?