To raise awareness we need to consider what we mean by gender identity, transgender equality and how we can better support transgender people.
Gender identity is what it means to identify as a boy or girl, man or woman. It is related to the attributes and characteristics that our culture expects to go along with belonging to one or the other gender. However, some people may not identify with either gender description, may identify with the gender that is different to that which they were assigned at birth, or may identify with parts of both.
Gender roles are often expressed in terms of a binary, black and white approach – male and female, man and woman, masculine and feminine – but this does not acknowledge the breadth of variety of gender identity and gender expression. Many people use the phrase Trans Umbrella to refer to the diversity of gender variance.
Transgender (often abbreviated to ‘trans’ or ‘trans*’) is used as an inclusive umbrella term to describe anyone who feels that the sex that was assigned to them at birth incompletely describes or fails to describe them. This term includes people who:
- are transsexual (identify as members of the opposite binary gender than the sex they were assigned to at birth)
- are intersex (whose anatomy does not fit the typical definition of male or female in some way)
- identify outside the female / male binary.
- have a gender expression which differs from that typically associated with their sex assigned at birth.
It is worth remembering that terminology is still evolving so definitions may change in the future.
Some transsexual people may choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically. Known as gender reassignment or transition this is usually a complex process that takes place over a long period of time. Being transsexual is not dependent on medical procedures, and a person’s gender identity should be recognised whether they have undergone legal gender reassignment or not.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has made the following videos telling of the experiences of transgender people: Jenny-Anne Bishop explains what her life is like as a transgender woman in Wales and talks about the experiences she has had as a result of her transition, and Stephen Whittle talks about his transition and his experiences.
- BBC Three’s Free Speech strand asked a group of transgender people to give their reaction to some of the most common, the most bizarre and the rude questions they get asked: Trans People Respond To The Most Annoying Questions They Get Asked
- Buzzfeed have also made a video outlining ‘Why Pronouns Matter for Trans people’
- GLAAD has produced some Tips for Allies of Transgender People. When you become an ally of transgender people, your actions will help change the culture, making society a better, safer place for transgender people – and for all people (trans or not) who do not conform to gender expectations.
- Stonewall also now represent transgender people.
The National Assembly for Wales is fully supporting of transgender equality. We include gender identity in our Equality Plan and workplace policies, such as Dignity at Work. We do not tolerate transphobia, defined as harassment of and discrimination against transgender people.
We have worked with transgender advocates to develop a Gender Reassignment Policy to support transsexual staff who have undergone, are undergoing or plan to under gender reassignment.
OUT-NAW, our LGBT staff support network is open to LGBT staff within the Assembly. They support LGBT staff and promote LGBT equality by attending Pride and marking LGBT History Month, International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.