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Policy and guidance on trans staff and students

Introduction

As part of its Gender Equality Action Plan, the University has undertaken to introduce this policy with the aim of raising awareness of this aspect of gender equality and therefore ensuring that trans staff and students do not suffer any discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

Definition of Trans Staff/Students

Trans is an inclusive term for people who identify themselves as transgender, transsexual or transvestite. The word ‘trans’ can be used without offence to identify people undergoing gender transition; people who identify themselves as someone with a different gender from that assigned to them at birth, but who may have decided not to undergo medical treatment; and people who choose to dress in the clothing typically worn by the other gender.

Legal Framework

In addition to the Equality Act (2010) the other pieces of legislation that govern this area of equality are:

Gender Reassignment Regulations 1999 protect a trans person who intends to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone gender reassignment from the moment they decide to start the process. It is unlawful for the University to treat a person less favourably because of gender reassignment, or to harass them because of it. The person also must not be treated less favourably by reason of their absence from work or study while undergoing gender reassignment, in comparison to someone absent due to illness or for some other similar reason.

Gender reassignment can involve several procedures, some of which are medical and others of which are changes in legal documentation, telling others etc.

Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows people who have completed the transition and meet certain criteria to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. This certificate allows them to change their identity, for example, by obtaining a birth certificate in their acquired gender, or marrying in their new gender. The Act makes it a criminal offence to pass information about a person’s trans status to a third person without the consent of the trans person.

The Equality Act 2006 introduced the Gender Equality Duty, requiring institutions to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment, and to promote equality of opportunity between male and female. As a result, institutions had to set up a Gender Equality Scheme and include trans people in this scheme.

Policy Statement

The University recognises that there can be differences between physical/anatomical sex and gender identity/expression and, therefore, undertakes not to discriminate against transgender, transsexual or transvestite staff or students. The University will treat all trans staff and students with dignity and respect and seek to provide a work and learning environment free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

The University will endeavour to undertake 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, or because of their participation in any gender reassignment process.
  • Staff will not be excluded from employment or promotion because of their gender identity, or because of their participation in any gender reassignment process.
  • The curriculum does not rely on stereotypical assumptions and contains no transphobic material
  • Respect for the confidentiality of all trans staff and students and that no information will be revealed without the prior agreement of the individual
  • Transphobic abuse, harassment or bullying (e.g. name calling, derogatory jokes, unacceptable or unwanted behaviour, intrusive questions) is treated as a serious disciplinary offence and will be dealt with under the appropriate procedure
  • Provide a supportive environment for staff and students who wish it to be known that they are trans people. It is the right of the individual to choose whether they wish to be open about their gender identity in the University
  • Trans issues will be included in all equality training
  • In providing accommodation for students, special issues which may be raised by trans students will be treated sympathetically by accommodation services
  • Staff and students undergoing medical and surgical procedures related to gender reassignment will receive positive support from the University to meet their particular needs during this period.

Guidance to Staff and Students

If a student or member of staff is considering or undergoing gender reassignment, they should contact Student Services or Human Resources respectively. A meeting will be arranged to discuss in confidence now the individual wishes to deal with their transition and to agree and follow a process with which they are comfortable. A very important element of this meeting will be to determine who should be told what and when and how this should occur.

It can be helpful to draw up a confidential plan for the period of transition and thereafter. The implementation of the plan should be reviewed regularly and reassessed at each significant part of the process. The plan should include the following issues:

  • Whether the individual and the University consider that there is good cause for redeployment as consequence of gender reassignment
  • Whether a student wants to continue their course of study, defer for a set amount of time or come to some other arrangement e.g. part-time study
  • The expected time scale of any medical and surgical procedures
  • The expected point or phase of change of name, personal details or gender
  • What time off will be required for treatment and/or possible side effects from any medication and how this will effect job/study
  • Whether the individual wishes to inform line managers, co-workers/fellow students themselves, or would prefer this to be done for them
  • What amendments will be required to records and systems
  • Whether training or briefing of co-workers, fellow students or service users will be necessary, at what point and by whom this will be carried out.

Appendix 2 provides a useful checklist that covers most of the issues that need to be considered when an individual is going through this process.

It is important to understand that one of the most significant moments will be when the individual wishes to start presenting in their preferred gender publicly. It is crucial that this is managed and communicated well to those that have a working or study relationship with the individual.

Practical Considerations

Some practical considerations will arise when a person is transitioning, for example, single gender facilities and dress codes. When a person who is transitioning begins to live in the gender in which they identify, they will normally start to use the facilities appropriate for their identified gender. This should not happen suddenly; it will be necessary to explain the situation carefully to work/study colleagues after consultation with the person who is transitioning. Requiring the person to use disabled toilet facilities is
not acceptable unless the person is disabled.

Flexibility is required in dress codes during the transition period and this should be discussed with the person taking into account what they are required to wear to work.

Review

This policy will be reviewed by the Gender Equality Working Group every 3 years to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the University and trans staff and students.

Contacts

For staff

Sukhi Bains, Equality and Diversity Officer

Email: sb104@st-andrews.ac.uk

Telephone: (01334)461649

For students

Ailsa Ritchie, Director of Student Services

Email: ajr7@st-andrews.ac.uk

Telephone: (01334) 462252

Appendix

  1. Appendix 1: Glossary of terms
  2. Appendix 2: Checklist to consider when discussing a student or staff member’s transition