A Practical Guide to Transgender Law: Terminology, Policies and Training

About the event

Pink News held a three day conference on the issues faced by the trans and non-binary community.  They called this a Trans Summit, which is just another way of saying Peak Trans.  It was a full agenda which mainly revolved around employment in the corporate sphere and was basically corporate activism laid bare.  The main sponsor was IBM, which is an American multinational technology company with operations in over 170 countries.

Robin Moira White, the author of A Practical Guide to Transgender Law, joins us for a discussion on the facts, language, and laws related to transgender individuals.

The session will include insights into how employers can best apply the relevant legislation in a work context — as well as practical tips on inclusion.

Blurb for the event from Pink News

Blurb for Robin Moira White – she/her

Robin became the first barrister to transition in practice at the discrimination bar in 2011 and has lectured and written extensively on transgender matters for both employers and employees. She has been recognised by Chambers and Partners as the ‘Go to’ lawyer for trans matters and has an extensive practice in heavyweight discrimination. She acted in the Taylor v Jaguar Land Rover case in 2020.

White is also currently representing Stonewall in the Alison Bailey vs Stonewall case. He recently tweeted his thoughts on the related issues direct to Bailey herself.

He has co-authored a book A Practical Guide to Transgender Law, due to be published in May 2021, which has a hilarious endorsement from someone living in the Outer Hebrides.

I’ve had a sneak preview of a couple of chapters of this. It’s not beach reading, but it is a straightforward guide to what causes so much angst on Twitter: what the law does and doesn’t say about the rights of trans people. I’m looking forward to getting the whole book.

Kate from South Uist

The straightforward guide of what causes so much angst on Twitter is obvious – I’ll probably experience it later today when I look at how many people ‘liked’ this post and then feel a bit sad.

So what did Robin have to say for himself?

Not an awful lot.

White made clear that this was simply an opportunity for him to promote the book and a link was posted for us to make pre-orders. The book is £30 but usually would retail at £60 and they had worked hard with the publishers to make it as affordable as possible – because. It covered all areas of law, including clubs and associations.

No, White was going to entertain us reiterating his victory with the Taylor vs Jaguar case. You can read the full case here.

According to White’s version of events, in 2017 an engineer called Taylor decided that he was gender fluid/non-binary and started going to work wearing womens’ clothes (White suggested these were purchased from M&S) but on alternating days. Taylor experienced harassment from colleagues in the form of questions like ‘Is that your Halloween outfit?’ and ‘Is It in today?’

White huffed and puffed that he had never seen a big company act so badly, which begs the question what kind of tribunal cases has he done in the past – even I have seen and experienced worse bullying than which he outlined.

The main problem Jaguar had, according to White, was that they didn’t have policies in place. It is crucial that all employers have a specific policy addressing gender woo, which fully explains terms like gender fluid and non-binary, but also the difference between transvestite and transgender. It needs to have a statement that people who identify anywhere along the trans umbrella are respected and valued. Moreover, it should make clear that people should ‘potentially suffer consequences’ if they misgender or dead name (i.e. when you can’t remember that Paul is now or might be Paula).

All four managers who were taken to tribunal all knew that Jaguar had an equality policy but they admitted they hadn’t seen it. White was this close to letting out an evil laugh.

White believes that at least one person in a thousand is trans in the workplace.

White used the phrase ‘chaps and chapesses’ which just goes to show how hard it is to be inclusive of non-binary folkx, even when you’re addressing them and speaking on the specific issue.

White took great delight at describing that the tribunal described the four managers as being out of their depth and needed more training. Jaguar has now employed a Diversity and Inclusion Champion, who will report directly to the board for the next four years at least.

White urged people to use the example of the case in all instances where non-binary might be questioned in the workplace – show it to your company, he said, and show it to your union.

The saddest thing was that Jaguar had lost a really good employee who was now working elsewhere. They probably haven’t stopped crying.

Question and Answer

Initially there were very few questions, as people had clearly signed up for a ‘practical guide to transgender law’, but were in fact treated to White rehashing what he has previously said about Taylor vs Jaguar case earlier in the day.

White almost had another mwah-ha-ha moment as he recalled that Jaguar ‘really thought they were going to win’.

Was White worried that the Equality and Human Rights Commission might issue revised guidance about ‘single sex spaces’ to routinely exclude trans people from toilets, etc?

Well, first of all, White was not pleased that they had supported Maya Forstater’s case and that they had misunderstood the case. The real nature of the case was that Forstater felt she could ‘misgender anybody she fancied, and was not about wider issues, you know, free speech’.

The other thing which wasn’t impressing White was that he had been waiting for three years for them to release school guidance for the country as a whole. The point of the guidance was to fill in the gaps to enhance legislation and the EHRC’s answer was that because the law was uncertain they couldn’t produce the guidance. White sighed and said, ‘That’s the whole point, it helps people understand what it should be’.

In response to the question, White felt that the EHRC would not release guidance to say that single sex spaces should be restricted for the same (I looked on their website and it isn’t clear to me that they have released guidance previously to say that loos can be used based on gender identity).

White had given evidence to the Women’s Equality Committee in February 2021 to say that his local supermarket is over 10 miles away by car and therefore it is entirely legitimate that he uses the ladies when he goes there and what harm does he do if he uses the toilet at the same time as a woman? (Proof that he has zero empathy for women and that his prostate is playing up if he can’t get to the supermarket and back without a pitstop.)

White said that Sex Matters and Transgender Trend had produced guidance for schools (again, I couldn’t find it) and said it:

suggests that exclusions in schools can be done on a class basis, so the type of person who says “all trans people should be excluded”, completely wrong, it’s not how discrimination works. Discrimination works on an individual basis and has to be the least discriminatory way of achieving something. And frankly if ECHR which were to say something like that, then they would get an application to review that guidance, and I suspect that we would succeed.

Someone from the US bemoaned the current situation over there (the one in which Biden has given men carte blanche to women’s spaces) which provoked White to recall that he used to share the same chambers as the Judge in Forstater’s trial – ‘very nice chap’ – just shows you what a small country England is really.

Should we apply more pressure to the government than politicans?

White didn’t think that the government were interested in engaging on this topic. He felt that Liz Truss was not interested in equalities and said the situation as being like 1984.

Predictably he compared the situation that gender identity ideologists have created with that of gay men 20 years ago. He felt that law students understood that gender identity was sacrosanct and that things would change.

White then threw a mini mantrum when he saw that there were no more questions. If no more questions came, he would end the session early. A flurry of questions ensued.

What was the greatest success in your career?

Taylor vs Jaguar natch.

White began his Call in 1995 and just a year later there was the case of P v S and Cornwall County Council. He summarised this as achieving that ‘change of sex should be included in sex’ and precluded the changes which came in 1999 (not detailed) and then the Gender Recognition Act in 2004. White noted that protection for ‘trans people’ had been achieved earlier than for religious belief and sexual orientation.

Any observations on the Charity Commission’s decision to approve the LGB Alliance as a charity?

White told us that he sicked up a bit of his dinner when he heard the news. He urged the audience, that if they believed that the LGB Alliance shouldn’t have charitable status, then they should write to say so and hopefully a big enough body of evidence would amass.

What approaches should we take to organisations not willing to improve their approach to trans folk?

Sue, joked White. Try to work with them, work with your union and the LGBT structure. If it doesn’t work you can see redress through the Law.

What is the next thing for advancement for trans people in law in the UK?

White hoped for reform of the Gender Recognition Act, i.e. that it moved away from a medicalised process to an expression of personality and it had to include the ‘complex gender identities’. White told the audience that non-binary people were now protected in employment law and service provision and offering GRC would be the final thing.

Elsewhere in the session White felt that being non-binary could be determined by how someone wore their hair and what clothes they wore.

Aside from prisons and marriage, what are the advantages of obtaining a GRC?

The big advantage now relates to data. It used to be marriages and pensions. A GRC gave you extra data protection and that a wrong pronoun being used is a ‘significant breach of a GRC’. The other exciting news was that the HMRC will also recognise your name change now. He tacityly acknowledged the prison issue.

Did White think the 18 week wait period for people to be seen in a Gender Identity Clinic could be reduced down further?

(Funny, I thought they had to wait years, but it turns out it’s just 18 weeks, like all other NHS services.)

The CASS review was looking at the treatment of people in Gender Identity Clinics and had apparently recommended that GPs should be responsible for more of this care. White thought this was a good thing.

Are universities required by law to provide updated degree certificates?

White gave advice on this 4-5 years ago and said that some universities were demanding ‘people sign in blood’ or provide a GRC before they would reissue certificates. White asked them if there was lots of evidence of degree fraud and they caved in.

White ended with a final plea for people to buy his book and reminding all that it had been priced as cheaply as possible.

Given White’s general immature and unprofessional behaviour, you might think Stonewall would be reconsidering him as their counsel, but apparently they are all signed up to the same communication strategy.

A recording of the webinar is on youtube.

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