The process of gender re-assignment may take several years.

The medical process requires people to live in their desired gender role for a period of 1-2 years before receiving any gender reassignment surgeries. This is known as “transition” (a so-called ‘Real Life Experience’ or ‘RLE’).

  • Before embarking on “transition” the individual may undergo assessment and counselling. This can take several months
  • Individuals will normally live in their desired gender role for 1-2 years before any medical intervention takes place. They may have to show that they can maintain their employment, and have successful social relationships in and out of work. This includes doing all the things that a member of that gender would normally do
  • Employers sometimes have to provide evidence of the individual’s progress before the clinicians will begin prescribing cross-sex hormones and the ‘blockers’, that halt the effects of the patient’s sex hormones
  • Any failure by managers and colleagues to accept the individual during the period of transition can adversely effect the treatment. It is therefore important that people undergoing medically supervised transition should be enabled to work normally, socialise and use workplace facilities in the same way as others of the intended gender
  • Not all those who re-assign their gender will undergo surgery. Genital surgery is not a pre-requisite for legal recognition. The determining factor is medical diagnosis of the need for transition. Most transsexual people do seek surgery of some kind though, particularly to aid in ‘passing’
  • Both assessment and surgeries will require the employee to have time off from work
  • Many NHS Primary Care Trusts currently only refer to Hammersmith in London (the UK’s largest gender identity clinic). This means that employees may often have far to travel – increasing the amount of time they will have to take off work

In order to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate, an individual must meet certain conditions in that they:

  • Have been diagnosed as having gender dysphoria
  • Have had whatever treatment is appropriate for them to alter their sexual characteristics
  • Have lived in their acquired gender role for two years
  • Intend to do so permanently for the remainder of their life

Note that it is not mandatory for applicants for a Gender Recognition Certificate to have had genital or other specific surgeries at the time of their application. The Gender Recognition Panel recognises that there can be medical contraindications that prevent such surgeries in some cases, and that others may be prevented from obtaining surgery through the NHS because of local funding restrictions. Not all transsexual people will have a Gender Recognition Certificate. It is not necessary for transsexual individuals to have a Certificate in order to be protected from discrimination under the Equality Act.

To download a PDF outlining some scenarios where gender re-assignment discrimination may take place click here.

The information contained on this page is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. It states the law as of December 2014. We recommend that specific professional advice is obtained on any particular matter. We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising as a result of the use of the information contained in this page.