Transgender Employment Rights
When were the regulations to protect transgender people introduced?
The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations were introduced in 1999. These were a change to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. They applied across the UK.
Why were the regulations introduced?
Before 1999, it was lawful to sack a person simply because they were transgender. This was challenged by a trans woman in the courts.
The legal case that changed the law
During the 1990s, a trans woman, referred to as P in court proceedings, was sacked by her employer Cornwall County Council. She told them she was undergoing gender reassignment. She took her case to employment tribunal.
The employment tribunal
The tribunal agreed she had been sacked because she was trans. The law at the time (the Sex Discrimination Act) did not protect her.
The European Union (EU) Equal Treatment Directive said the laws of member countries must treat people equally. The employment tribunal asked if the Sex Discrimination Act was complying with EU law. The tribunal referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The ECJ is the supreme court of the European Union (EU).
At the ECJ
The trans campaigning group Press For Change (PFC) supported the legal work for the case. In 1996 the ECJ ruled that P should be protected from such discrimination. P’s case was the first to establish trans workplace rights anywhere in the world.
Who introduced the regulations?
In 1998 the new Labour government discussed what to include in new regulations. The regulations came into force on 1st May 1999. Guidelines for employers to use the regulations were written.
Are the regulations still in force?
They are still in force in Northern Ireland. In England, Scotland and Wales The Equality Act 2010 has replaced them.
Read about the role of the Christine Burns, PFC and the Parliamentary Forum for Transsexualism in the Personality Dateline.