Supporting Trans Staff
The University of Nottingham is committed to creating an inclusive environment for all staff, including our trans community. The University of Nottingham recognises that trans people hold a variety of identities, some of which may not be related to gender reassignment, and that some people may identify as neither male nor female. Trans is used here as an inclusive ‘umbrella’ term for anyone whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
In line with our Global People Strategy 2020 commitment to “Foster a values based culture focused on diversity, inclusivity, wellbeing and positive engagement”, the University will treat all employees and students with respect, and seek to provide a positive working environment free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation.
Gender reassignment is the legal term used in the Equality Act to describe the protected characteristic of anyone who “proposes 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” (Equality Act, 2010). Gender reassignment is a personal process, rather than a medical process, and anyone who proposes to, starts or has completed a process to change their gender is protected from discrimination under the Equality Act. An individual does not need to be undergoing any medical supervision to be protected. So, for example, someone assigned female at birth who decides to transition to their self-identified gender without undergoing any medical procedures would be protected. The Act also requires organisations to treat absences from work because someone proposes to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone gender reassignment in the same way or better as absences due to illness or injury.
Trans Working Party
In early 2016, the University completed informal consultation with trans colleagues to explore their experiences of working in the institution. From this, it became clear that there were areas where there were opportunities for the University of Nottingham to improve on existing processes and build stronger links with our trans community. The working party was convened in May 2016, led by the LGBTQ Staff Network and supported by the People & Culture team in HR. Membership comprised members and supporters of the trans community within the University, both staff and students; operational leaders able to take actions forward in their areas; and, as needed, attendance from relevant teams and services within the university.
The group explored challenges and opportunities for positive engagement with trans staff/students, including:
- Consideration of difficulties involved in name changes and ways to improve these processes.
- Supporting cultural change and awareness of trans issues eg correct pronoun usage, improving awareness of university policies.
- Supporting the institution in the updating of learning and development activities, and the implementation of new IT systems or development of existing ones.
- Supporting staff and students involved with work placements and projects.
It addressed areas including institutional guidance, internal IT systems, supporting staff and students outside of the university environment, and the university’s culture and communications.
Achievements & Recognition
The actions of the working group have resulted in ongoing organisational change, such as the amendment of some important University systems to include the gender non-specific title Mx and the decision not to capture legal sex (required by HESA for employees) until contract stage of recruitment.
The work of the Trans Working Party has also been recognised in a report, published by HEFCE, which highlights examples of sector-leading and innovative practice in advancing equality and diversity. This case study has also been included in a resulting searchable repository of good practice for the higher education sector.
Read the post on the HEFCE blog
Read the report ‘Sector-leading and innovative practice in advancing equality and diversity’ on the HEFCE web site
Access the HEFCE searchable web repository
For more information about the Trans Working Party, contact Natasha Russell.
Trans equality - Help us to go further
We recognise that we have further work to do to support trans colleagues within the institution, and want to understand how best to take this forward. We are keen to learn from the experiences of trans colleagues to inform this activity. We'd like to understand the impact of the work done so far and identify any new issues to address. Your views and experiences will help us to support the development of a more inclusive working environment.
If you are interested in being consulted about your experiences of gender identity and/or trans history in the workplace, please contact Justine Wallis-Leggett. Please be assured that any feedback will be entirely confidential, and that participation in any future activities resulting from this consultation will be entirely voluntary. We look forward to hearing your views.