Under the Equality Act 2010, ‘sex’ is understood as binary, being a man or a woman. For the purposes of the Act, a person’s legal sex is their biological sex as recorded on their birth certificate. A trans person can change their legal sex by obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate. A trans person who does not have a Gender Recognition Certificate retains the sex recorded on their birth certificate for the purposes of the Act.
The Equality Act protects individuals from discrimination and harassment on the basis of a protected characteristic. Protected characteristics include sex (being a man or a woman) and gender reassignment (being an individual who is ‘proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process or part of a process to reassign their sex’). There is no requirement for a trans person to have any kind of medical supervision or intervention in order to be protected from gender reassignment discrimination. A person does not need a Gender Recognition Certificate to be protected under the characteristic of gender reassignment.
There are two types of discrimination, indirect and direct discrimination.
It is generally against the law to discriminate against someone because of a protected characteristic. However, there are certain circumstances when services can be provided either:
- exclusively to one sex, or
- differently to each sex or
- separately to each sex.
Service providers must meet a number of conditions to lawfully establish a separate or single-sex service. These conditions are set out under exceptions relating to sex in the Act.
There are circumstances where a lawfully-established separate or single-sex service provider can exclude, modify or limit access to their service for trans people. This is allowed under provisions relating to gender reassignment in the Act.
Last updated: 05 May 2022