Women and Equalities Committee calls for equality for trans people

14 January 2016

There is still a long way to go to ensure equality for transgender people, despite welcome progress, says a report published by the Women and Equalities Committee.

The Report

The report of this new committee’s first inquiry makes over 30 recommendations in a wide range of policy areas. It calls on the Government to take action to ensure full equality for trans people, emphasising the need to update existing legislation; provide better services, especially in the NHS; and improve confidence in the criminal justice system. Recommendations include:


Legislation on gender recognition and equality for trans people was pioneering, but is now outdated. The medicalised approach in the Gender Recognition Act 2004 pathologises trans identities and runs contrary to the dignity and personal autonomy of applicants. It should be updated in line with the principles of self-declaration. The terms "gender reassignment" and "transsexual" in the Equality Act 2010 are dated and misleading; and may not cover wider members of the trans community. The protected characteristic should be amended to that of "gender identity".


The NHS is failing in its legal duty under the Equality Act 2010. Trans people have significant problems in using general NHS services – often because of lack of knowledge and understanding by staff. GPs in particular often lack an understanding of trans identities, the diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and their own role in prescribing hormone treatment. The report recommends that a root and branch review of these issues should be completed within the next six months.

Criminal justice system

The case is overwhelming for hate crime legislation to protect all groups, including trans people, on an equal basis. The Government’s hate crime action plan must include mandatory training for police officers on transphobic hate crime, and the promotion of third party reporting. The Government must also work with the courts to tackle the issue of trans people being inappropriately 'outed' in court.

Finally, caring for and managing trans offenders is crucial: there is a clear risk of harm where trans prisoners are not located in a prison or other setting appropriate to their affirmed gender: the recent deaths in custody of two trans women, and the case of a trans woman who was placed in a men’s prison are stark illustrations of this.


High levels of transphobia are experienced by individuals on a daily basis. This is a very serious problem in a wide range of settings, and can undermine careers, incomes, living standards, access to services, quality of life, and physical and mental health. It is a sobering and distressing fact that disproportionately high numbers of trans people have reported attempting suicide.

The Committee’s report calls on the Government needs to agree a new strategy for transgender equality which it can deliver with full cross departmental support within the next 6 months, to tackle the many issues which remain unaddressed, and include a wholesale review of issues facing non-binary and non-gendered people.

Committee Chair Maria Miller said:

"The committee took evidence on a very wide range of issues. As well as health, equality and criminal justice, we looked at education, data protection, service provision, official documents, sport - and more. Although Britain leads the world in recognising lesbian, gay and bisexual rights, we are still failing trans people in so many ways. The glamorous stories of trans celebrities are in stark contrast to the day to day experiences of many ordinary individual trans people. Our report challenges attitudes towards trans people and calls for them to be treated equally and fairly."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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