Hearing about this young man making allegations against his school is a stark reminder of how easy it can be to say or do the wrong thing in such a delicate situation as transitioning.
For those who are taking steps to identify as a different gender to that of their birth, it can be a lonely and challenging experience which is certainly a decision not taken lightly. But it is also often accompanied with a sense of relief and freedom.
For employers, the landscape and law may be unfamiliar. Even the terminology can be daunting (gender reassignment, transgender, transsexual, gender identity, non-binary, gender fluidity etc...). Issues such as uniform and bathroom access are key. Although cases concerning transgender individuals are rare, it is clear from this story that potential misinformation, a lack of understanding or empathy can quickly escalate into litigation and publicity.
Ensuring your workforce and managers understand the key terms and the basics of the law is a good start. To demonstrate true inclusiveness however, employers need to do much more, such as:
- building LGBT employee networks
- appointing senior executive sponsors who are accountable
- reviewing policies and benefits, and
- being a public advocate for equality in the community.
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A transgender teenager is taking legal action against his former school for discrimination. Aidan, 16, who was born female, claims he was effectively excluded because Hereford Cathedral School refused to let him wear a boy's uniform. This was despite the support of his mother and the family's GP as he began his transition. The action is being taken under the 2010 Equality Act. The school said it would defend its position.