UNISON welcomes transgender equality report

The union calls for the resources to be made available to implement parliamentary inquiry’s recommendations

UNISON has welcomed much of what is contained in the report of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Inquiry into transgender equality that has been published today, and is calling for early implementation of the recommendations.

The priority now is for resources to translate them into action.

The union’s trans caucus co-convenor Dave Merchant said: “My major concern is whether the recommendations contained in the report will actually happen, and happen within reasonable timescales.

“This is particularly given the failure of the last attempt – the government’s 2011 transgender equality action plan – which remains largely unimplemented.”

The report’s key recommendations include:

  • a root-and-branch review of the NHS’s treatment of transgender people;
  • legal recognition of gender should be based on self-declaration, rather than a medicalised assessment;
  • protection from discrimination in employment and service delivery to be based on gender identity, not the current more restrictive term ‘gender reassignment’;
  • the lowering from 18 to 16 of the age limit for obtaining legal gender recognition without parental consent
  • the option to record gender as ‘X’ in a passport;
  • more training for education staff to better support gender-variant young people;
  • gender identity issues to be part of sex and relationship education;
  • mandatory training for police officers on transphobic hate crimes;
  • gender identity hate crime to have the same level of legal protection as other forms of hate crime such as those based on race, religion or sexual orientation;
  • urgent clarification of the position of transgender prisoners;
  • guidance for sports bodies to make clear that excluding transgender players on grounds of safety or fair competition is rarely justified.

UNISON has a well-established network of trans members working across public services and a long trade record of working for trans equality. The levels of ignorance, prejudice and discrimination described in the report come as no surprise to us. They reflect the experiences of our members.

We know all too well the high levels of transphobia, the outdated understandings, the crisis in support for young trans people, the failings in health services and the problems with the criminal justice system. We have long called for action in these areas.

We strongly endorse the recommendations for an overhaul of the legal and policy framework, including updating the Gender Recognition Act and the protection provided by the 2010 Equality Act, and a root and branch review of NHS services, both general health services provided to trans people and gender identity services.

But we know that even within the existing legal and policy framework, steps can be taken to prevent such widespread discrimination.  We have many examples of good practice where employers and service providers have worked with UNISON and trans groups to make the difference.

Attention must now turn to implementation – to making good practice the norm.

To be realised, the recommendations contained in the report need a commitment to investing in public services. The current government is responsible for decimating these very services. We call for the government to see sense and put the resources where they are so urgently needed.

UNISON has a number of guides on transgender equality:

To find out more about UNISON’s work for trans equality, visit unison.org.uk/out or email out@unison.co.uk.