Discrimination Law update

Trans* Jersey met with Senator Francis Le Gresley on 29 July 2014. In attendance were Martin Gavet (Liberate), Ellie Jones (Liberate), Pippa McCarthie (Liberate), Kate Morel (Policy Principal, Social Security Dept) and Darren Newman (Legal Consultant).

Vic Tanner Davy presented Trans* Jersey’s response to the consultation document. You can download the Powerpoint presentation here.

The presentation started by discussing the differences between sex and gender. The consultation document uses the word “sex” when it is often referring to gender. It was felt that it would be helpful to unpack the differences in order to better understand the non-binary nature of both features for trans* people and intersex people.

The use of the “X” maker on passports and birth certificates was touched on. Trans* Jersey would like to see this option being used in Jersey but, at the moment, although it is internationally recognised and legal in the UK, it is not policy to allow people to elect to have it on their documents.

The meeting acknowledged that there are more than two genders and, because of that, some explanation and guidance on the spectrum of gender would be required to assist organisations like the Jersey Tribunal and the Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service in their decision making. The gender grid was put forward by Trans* Jersey as one way to define multiple genders.

Trans* Jersey went on to bust three myths about trans people that had, without malice, crept into the consultation document by implication:

  • That trans people’s medical and surgical histories are other people’s business, and that surgery is a requirement to be “really” trans;
  • That transition has an easily definable start and end, and that it will be the same journey for every trans person;
  • That trans* people cannot be trusted to use facilities marked for use by the gender they present as.

bathroom signThe meeting was hugely sympathetic to this last point and understood the need to ensure that the law does not accidentally enshrine discrimination around this point. It was felt that, when the draft law is debated in the States of Jersey, this point will be the one that takes up most time and causes most concern. The meeting agreed that educating the public and politicians to allay fears around this point would be helpful. The Minister and his team said that they would welcome any help Trans* Jersey and Liberate could provide in this regard.

The meeting discussed how trans people should be treated with regard to exemptions under the law for gender-specific employment and sports teams. Trans* Jersey suggested that, for those employers, such as a women’s refuge, who are exempt from discriminating when hiring, transmen should not expect to be able to be employed but that transwomen should be considered for the job along with natal born women.

Trans* Jersey explained that sports teams were still a difficult area for trans people, even at the professional level, as transwomen in particular were seen to have an unfair advantage over natal born women. In fact, research has shown this is not true. Once a transwoman starts hormone therapy, she looses the muscle bulk and testosterone advantage that she had.

In essence, for all purposes, the moment that someone self-reports as transgender they should be treated as the gender they present as – even if they are worse off. The meeting then asked about pension entitlement for trans people and Trans* Jersey said that the same rule applies. For transmen, that might mean working an extra 5 years before they are eligible for their pension.

Trans* Jersey, finally, suggested some wording, based on the UK’s Equality Act, for how the new law might be drafted.

Liberate stated their support for the consultation’s proposals on sexual orientation and asked for confirmation that maternity/paternity leave applies equally to same-sex couples as to opposite-sex couples. The Minister confirmed that same-sex couples are equally covered by the law.

The draft legislation is expected to be publicly available in February 2015.

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