Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is the Equality and Human Rights Commission trying to “forget” trans people?

In 1996 the European Court of Justice issued an important judgement which compelled the United Kingdom to update the Sex Discrimination Act so as to outlaw rampant employment and education discrimination towards people who intend to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone Gender Reassignment.

The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations were eventually enacted in April 1999. Even so, research conducted for Trevor Phillips' Equalities Review and published in February 2007 showed that, among 872 trans people questioned, 42% said they had lived in fear of workplace discrimination when they needed to transition. (Engendered Penalties: Transgender and Transsexual People's Experiences of Inequality and Discrimination; Whittle, Turner and Al-Alami; Equalities Review; Feb 2007).

Ten years after the law was introduced, transsexual people continue to describe instances of discrimination. Meanwhile transgender people are not even protected, because they don't fulfil the law's criterion that changes in one's gender presentation must be under medical supervision in order to count.

That same year (1999), the Court of Appeal upheld an earlier High Court judgement against North West Lancashire Health Authority and in favour of three transsexual women who had been denied NHS treatment for their condition. The Court ruled that gender reassignment treatment was the proper clinical response to the condition described as 'gender dysphoria' and that it was unlawful for any NHS organisation to operate any system of control which amounted to a blanket ban.

Ten years after that judgement and in spite of countless guidance publications from the Department of Health, several Primary Care Trusts and whole regions of the country persist in operating policies which do amount, in effect, to blanket bans. Their rules, when obtained under Freedom of Information procedures, read like a travesty of the founding principles of the National Health Service.

To read the whole article and comments from other readers: Click here

This is a service provided by the Organisation Intersex International

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