A guide on the Equality Act sex and gender reassignment provisions

On 4th April 2022, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published guidance for service providers operating a separate or single-sex service and their approach to trans people’s use of the service. This includes guidance on the Equality Act 2010 gender reassignment provisions, which allow such service providers to exclude, modify or limit access to trans people, where this is justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

When deciding on your approach, the guidance advises service providers to take the following into account:

  • All individuals should be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Trans people may need to access services relating to their biological sex.
  • It may be helpful to have a policy on how services are provided to trans people. However, service providers who do have a policy should be prepared to consider whether particular circumstances justify departing from it.
  • The rights and needs of trans people should be balanced against the rights and needs of others who use or may wish to use the service.
  • The reasons and evidence for reaching a decision should be documented. Where a decision is taken to depart from the general policy in a specific case, this should also be recorded.

When considering limiting or excluding access to trans people, the guidance recommends that service providers answer specific questions, including the reasons for modifying or limiting access, whether modifying or limiting access would actually help the service provider achieve their stated aim, and whether the reason for modifying or limiting access outweighs any discriminatory effects.

The guidance also provides practical advice, including on the rights of trans people regarding disclosure of personal information and gender recognition certificates, avoiding making stereotypical gender assumptions, seeking to identify solutions that minimise discriminatory effects, training staff on any policy introduced, and being able to communicate and explain any decision to exclude, modify or limit access to the service to trans people.