Transitioning is a term used to describe the process and steps an individual takes in order to live as the gender they identify as − this is a unique process for each individual which can include a number of changes to a person’s life.
NB. This document refers to all instances of transgender as “trans*” to avoid any form of labelling which may be incorrect or insensitive.
The Equality Act 2010 protects trans* people who are “proposing to undergo medical intervention”. Of course, this can lead to a tendancy to presume that only those who are transitioning with medical intervention require support; however, all trans* people, regardless of their treatment, still require support at work.
To be read in conjuntion with our Transitioning at Work Policy, this guidance outlines the steps you can take, as an employer, towards ensuring employees that choose to transition while working are fully supported with their decision and process.
“Gender dysphoria” is defined as the clinical diagnosis for someone who does not feel comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth.
“Gender reassignment” is defined as the process, or any part of the process, of an individual moving away from their gender expression typically associated with their sex assigned at birth, towards an expression that reflects their gender identity.
“Transgender” is defined as an individual whose gender expression or identity is different from that traditionally associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. An individual may choose to express their trans* identity through a number of means, such as: behaviour, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voices and mannerisms.
“Transition” is defined as the process during which a person transitions from one gender to their preferred gender. This does not always involve a medical procedure, but a ‘social transition’ whereby an individual begins to live with their preferred gender identity. Some individuals choose to continue working while transitioning; therefore, it is vital that they are supported throughout the process.
“Transphobia” is defined as an irrational fear, hatred or abuse of trans* individuals which is based on actual or perceived gender identity. Any individual who is described as being transphobic may deliberately and directly harass or disrespect someone who is trans*, e.g. by using the incorrect pronoun purposely. Transphobic incidents are often emotionally harmful and must be dealt with as seriously as other bullying incidents. All transphobic incidents should be centred on supporting the victim and managing any future transphobic behaviour.
When a member of staff is considering transition, they should request a meeting with their senior leader and, if possible, a member of HR, depending on the individual’s wishes.
This confidential meeting should be used to outline a plan that will demonstrate the school’s intention to act in accordance with the individual’s wishes. The following factors should be considered during the initial conversation:
- A designated member of staff should be elected to provide support to the individual and be their first point of contact
- The expected start, length and end of the transition
- Time off that may be required for medical appointments or procedures, if applicable
- Whether the individual wishes to inform colleagues (and pupils, if applicable) and the way they wish to do so
- How and when such information will be disclosed
- How the school intends to handle any potential discriminatory, harassing or hostile actions towards the individual
If it is possible, the individual in question should provide a notice period for the date they intend to begin their transition; this will ensure the school can implement the necessary accommodations.
The decision of who to tell, and when and how to tell them, belongs to the individual in question. It is not a requirement that the trans* individual’s colleagues are informed prior to the transition; however, to ensure a smooth transition, the individual should inform the colleagues with whom they work the closest. By doing so, their colleagues will understand the need to use the individual’s new name and pronouns, and to share facilities.
Some staff members, depending on how closely they work with pupils, may also wish to disclose their transition to the wider school population. In this instance, the trans* individual should decide how pupils should be informed.
A member of HR will also need to be informed of the necessary changes to any documentation and records.
Support from senior leaders should be available throughout the individual’s process of disclosure.
Staff should be given the option to attend trans* awareness training that will:
- Ensure they are all aware of, and comply with, current legislation and government recommendations.
- Ensure all staff are aware of their responsibilities and how they can support trans* colleagues.
- Ensure that the school is aware of, and celebrates, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Transgender Day of Visibility, LGBT History Month and International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
- Provide advice for staff on effectively managing any discrimination towards a colleague’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Provide up-to-date information on the terms, concepts and current understandings of gender identity, gender expression, gender diversity and sexual orientation.
Toilet and changing facilities
During the initial meeting, clear arrangements should be made around the use of toilets and changing facilities. If possible, the school should review the current facilities to determine whether adaptations can be made to accommodate all staff.
Trans* staff must not be expected to use the facilities designed for those of their birth gender and any member of staff that objects to sharing with a trans* colleague, should be asked to use alternative facilities.
When a staff member has decided to transition at work, dress codes should be made gender-neutral to avoid stereotypes.
Altering the curriculum to include LGBT issues will not only benefit trans* pupils, but also trans* staff members. Relationships and sex education (RSE) should be made inclusive of trans* people and their experiences, and books featuring trans* parents that celebrate gender identity should be incorporated into all subjects, to promote an inclusive atmosphere within school and ensure the school’s community is knowledgeable and open-minded.
Documents and records
Under the Gender Recognition Act 2004, a gender recognition certificate (GRC) can be issued to allow the holder to be legally recognised in his or hers acquired gender for all purposes.
Upon receipt of a GRC, an individual can request that all references to their former name and gender are removed from the school records.
The school must obtain the individual’s permission before making changes to any documents or records on the school system. Where the individual has chosen to disclose their trans* status, a date should be agreed upon which their gender will be changed on all personnel records.
Hard copies of documents that cannot be altered or replaced, must be stored securely in sealed envelopes, marked confidential and kept separately from the files of other staff.
The school should be aware that full transition is not always instantaneous; it may be necessary to continuously update photographic identification throughout the transition period, such as identity cards.
Time off for medical treatment
Under the Equality Act 2010, individuals undergoing medical treatment or procedures for gender reassignment have a right to request time off work.
The individual should discuss with their senior leader the expected time off they require; however, schools should be aware that unexpected changes may arise during a course of treatment so a flexible approach should be used.
Upon an individual’s return to work, the school should implement necessary temporary adjustments, to help settle them back into their role, such as allowing a phased return to work or changing hours.
If applying for a role at the school, an applicant should not be expected to disclose their trans* status prior to, or during, an interview. An applicant’s choice to refuse declaring their gender should never be a reason to not consider or offer employment.
The school should inform all applicants that a required DBS check will not reveal an individual’s previous identity to a new employer. If an applicant is concerned, they can contact the DBS applications line on 03000 200 190, or click here for further advice.
Where a member of staff is providing a reference for someone moving to a new job, the referee must use the name which is currently used by the trans* individual, not their former name.
Transphobia and bullying incidents
All staff members and pupils in attendance at the school should be made aware that transphobic language and bullying will not be tolerated.
Incidents that involve staff should be dealt with following the procedures in the school’s Staff Harassment Policy and those that involve pupils should be dealt with following the procedures in the school’s Severe Behaviour Policy.
A record should be kept of all incidents that occur; this should be kept safe at all times.
To ensure a smooth transition for a member of staff, schools can use our Transitioning at Work Policy − this would ensure any member of staff that wishes to transition will be able to work with the school to carefully plan how to best inform colleagues and pupils about their intention to transition. The policy also contains letter templates that can be used where an individual wishes to inform colleagues of their transition in writing.
GOV.UK (2016) ‘The General Guide for all Users: Gender Recognition Act 2004’
NAHT and Stonewall (2017) ‘Guidance for school leaders on supporting trans staff’
Stonewall (2016) ‘Creating a Transitioning at Work Policy’