Gender identity refers to a person’s internal, deeply held knowledge of their own gender. Everyone has a gender identity. For most people their gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. For transgender people, their gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. Many people have a gender identity of man or woman (or, for children, boy or girl). For other people, their gender identity does not fit neatly into one of those two binary genders. Gender identity is not visible to others; you cannot look at someone and “see” their gender identity.
Gender expression is the external manifestation of gender, expressed through a person’s name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, voice, and/or behaviour. Societies classify these external cues as masculine and feminine, although what is considered masculine or feminine changes over time and varies by culture. (For example, in some cultures men wear long hair as a sign of masculinity.) Most transgender people seek to align their gender expression with their gender identity to resolve the incongruence between their knowledge of their own gender and how the world “sees” them.
Transphobia and bullying
Transphobic bullying is behaviour or language that makes a person feel unwelcome or marginalised because of their perceived or actual gender identity.
Transphobic bullying often occurs as a result of others’ prejudice being directed at the person because:
- They are transgender
- They are perceived to be transgender
- They do not fit with traditional gender norms (e.g. boys with long hair or wearing make-up, girls playing team sports)
- They have transgender friends or family members
- They are perceived as being different
Like other types of bullying, transphobic bullying can take many different forms and happen online, via phone or in the physical world. Examples of transphobic bullying can include:
- Calling someone names, teasing or humiliating them using transphobic language
- Using incorrect pronouns (e.g. he/she, him/her) to humiliate someone
- Hitting, kicking, punching or physically hurting someone
- Refusing to work or cooperate with someone because of their real or perceived gender identity
- Vandalism of property, offensive graffiti or displaying symbols
- Inappropriate sexual comments or gestures
How prevalent is transphobic bullying?
The Stonewall School Report 2017 was a study of over 3,700 lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) pupils across Britain. These were some of the findings relating to transgender pupils and bullying:
- Trans pupils are at particular risk of bullying. Half (51 per cent) are bullied at school for being trans.
- Trans pupils are also bullied on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation: when taking into account those who experience bullying due to their gender identity and/or sexual orientation, nearly two in three (64 per cent) trans pupils overall are bullied for being LGBT at school.
- In addition, more than half of pupils who are questioning or unsure of their gender identity (but who do not presently necessarily identify as trans) are bullied for being LGBT at school (53 per cent)
(Stonewall School Report, 2017).
How does the law protect transgender people?
The Human Rights Act 1998
The following Articles from The Human Rights Act 1998 support the rights and needs of Transgender people to live their lives in their true gender.
Article 8: right to respect for private life and family life
Article 10: freedom of expression
Article 14: the prohibition of discrimination
The Gender Recognition Act 2004
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 is mainly concerned with the process by which a person can get a Gender Recognition Certificate and correct their original birth certificate to match their true gender. This can only occur after a person reaches 18 years of age but is something that many younger people may aspire to.
The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 ensures legal protection against discrimination (direct or indirect) for everyone under the nine protected characteristics defined in the Act, one of which is Gender Reassignment (also known as Transgender).
Part 6 of the Equality Act 2010 makes it clear that the Act specifically refers to Schools and young people. The Equality Act 2010 (2:1:7) states that; A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex. The act applies to employment, education and a range of other areas where discrimination may take place. In order to be protected under the Act, a pupil will not necessarily have to be undergoing a medical procedure to change their sex, but they must be taking steps to live in the opposite gender, or be proposing to do so.
What action can I take?
If you are worried or anxious or you would like to talk to someone for advice, there are a number of people that you could speak to about how you are feeling. Depending on your situation, you may choose to speak to:
- Your Manager
- The Human Resources (HR) Department at your place of work
- The Capella Designated Safeguarding Lead or another member of the Capella team that you feel comfortable speaking to.
- A support website for impartial/confidential advice (some are listed in the table below)
If you are being bullied or you are aware that someone is being bullied, please report this to someone in authority. There are several avenues that you could take to report the incident. You could talk to your:
- Local police on 101 to report a concern
- Human Resources (HR) Department
- Trade Union Representative
- Apprenticeship Training Provider – we encourage learners to report all incidents of bullying to the Designated Safeguarding Lead or a member of the Capella team that you feel comfortable speaking to. All reports will be taken seriously. Bullying is never acceptable and will not be tolerated.
If this does not work, you can make a formal complaint using your employer’s grievance procedure. The Equality Act (2010) recognises you may be worried about complaining; you have extra legal protection when you complain about discrimination.