Your protections under the Equality Act

Gender Reassignment

The Equality Act states that you must not be discriminated against on the basis of your gender reassignment in a number of circumstances:

  • That you are undergoing or have undergone specific treatment or surgery to change from your birth sex to your preferred gender. This process ensures that all transsexual people share the common characteristic of gender reassignment. A wide range of people are included in the terms ‘trans’ or ‘transgender’ but you are not protected as transgender unless you propose to change your gender or have done so.
  • Due to your status as a transsexual i.e. when your gender identity is different from the sex assigned to you when you were born.
  • Someone believes that you are transsexual, for example because you occasionally cross-dress or are gender variant (this is known as discrimination by perception)
  • You are related or connected to a transsexual person, or someone wrongly thought to be transsexual (this is known as discrimination by association)

Any discriminatory treatment may be a one-off action or as a result of a rule or policy. It doesn’t have to be intentional to be unlawful.

There is no explicit protection from discrimination for intersex people (the term used to describe a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't fit the typical definitions of female or male).You must not however, be discriminated against because of your sex, or perceived sex, as a protection arising from the protected characteristic of sex.

Note on the use of language

In 2016 the Parliamentary Women & Equalities Committee made over 30 recommendations to government to ensure full equality for trans people. One of the recommendations was that the terms trans replaces ‘gender reassignment’ and ‘transsexual’ in the Equality Act.

The government did not act on this recommendation and the original terms remain in force. In order to be technically accurate, we have used these terms on this page. They may also be used when pursuing a claim of discrimination on your behalf.

However Equity, and the LGBT+ Committee, are committed to the use of the term 'trans'. We use this term in our campaigning, lobbying and policy activity.

Circumstances when being treated differently due to gender reassignment is lawful

The Equality Act supports action by employers and producers that actively seeks to support working with artists who have historically been disadvantaged and marginalised as trans artists. This form of activity is known as a positive action measure. Itcan be seen, for example, in casting breakdowns and job ads that encourage applicants who are trans.

We routinely encourage producers and engagers across the entertainment industry to adopt positive action measures to support the inclusion of trans members.

At some single-sex service providers and sports organisations in the UK, there are restrictions  that directly disadvantage trans people and limit their inclusion

Equity’s LGBT+ Committee works to limit the way in which any restrictions may unlawfully discriminate again trans members of the union.

Our work to combat trans discrimination

Equity’s LGBT+ Committee produced the entertainment industry’s first guide to good practice in casting and working LGBT+ artists in 2019.

The guide was welcomed across the entertainment industry.

Challenging government inaction on LGBT+ rights

Government inaction has denied the LGBT+ people, and the trans community specifically, of opportunities to gain essential safeguards and greater inclusion in mainstream society.

In recognition of this we joined with the rest of the UK trade union movement to demand the government reset its approach to LGBT+ rights. The LGBT+ Committee condemned the decision by the UK government not to include trans and gender non-conforming people in its decision to ban conversion therapy.

The LGBT+ Committee welcomes any offer of active support from Equity members across the UK (Link to committee page once live).

Supporting the GAPs Workshops

Equity’s LGBT+ Committee work with members of the Casting Directors Guild on an initiative aimed at trans actors with limited opportunities to gain work .

The free workshops focus on auditioning for screen and include established industry guest speakers..

Further advice

Decorative image: Actor outside stage door

Dignity at work

Advice if you are being bullied, harassed or treated unfairly at work – and if you’re experiencing abuse at home.