Transgender inclusion in higher education workplaces.

Motion 10 carried at UNISON’s higher education conference in 2017 called for the service group to promote UNISON’s guide to transgender rights in the workplace and to urge branches to take steps to provide a briefing for UNISON activists to be able to feel confident in representing transgender members in the workplace.

A transgender person is someone with a deep conviction that their gender does not conform to the sex they were assigned at birth.  Many transgender people wish to change their name and personal details and live as the gender with which they identify.  The process is referred to as ‘gender reassignment’ or ‘transitioning’.

Transgender workers face discrimination, despite the fact it is unlawful.  An evidence review commissioned by the Government Equalities Office, published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research in July 2016, showed discrimination in recruitment and promotion, with many transgender people working below the level of their education and qualifications.  Many transgender people (up to 50% of respondents) experienced harassment and bullying at work.  They reported extremely poor service from HR departments, lack of understanding of trans issues by managers and little support when they faced discrimination and harassment.  Consequences of this include restricted job choice, reduced progression and inability to be out at work.

UNISON and the Scottish Transgender Alliance have produced a guide for union reps supporting transgender members that is attached to this email.


For many UNISON reps this may be their first experience of dealing with transgender equality. The guide gives a background to what it means to be transgender followed by practical advice on common workplace issues. This guide should be read alongside UNISON’s factsheet Transgender Workers’ Rights (below). The factsheet contains further information on the law and key negotiating points.


Branch negotiators should ensure that employer’s review existing and new agreements against the bargaining checklist in the Transgender Workers Rights Guide. Policies and procedures should be checked for unnecessary gendering and ensure that trans rights are placed on the bargaining agenda.

Transgender workers face high levels of prejudice and discrimination: UNISON is committed to tackling this discrimination and building equality. Everyone has the right to work with dignity and respect and to contribute to the workforce to their full ability.


The extent of discrimination against transgender people means that unless an organisation is explicitly transgender inclusive, many transgender people will assume they will not be treated fairly. This applies to employers and also to us as a trade union. We must actively demonstrate our commitment to transgender equality.


In UNISON, transgender members organise with lesbian, gay and bisexual members, locally and nationally.

Guide for reps supporting trans members Transgender workers rights