a:gender

About Us

a:gender is the support network for staff in government Departments/Agencies who have changed or need to change permanently their perceived gender, or who identify as intersex.


The numbers of staff who have changed or need to change permanently their perceived gender, or who identify as intersex in individual departments are relatively small and some LGB networks in the Civil Service are unable to support transsexual transgender staff who identify as hetrosexual, the issue being one of gender identity and not sexual orientation. This can reinforce feelings of isolation and exclusion.


In 2003 it was decided to form a network that embraces transsexual, transgender and intersex staff from across the whole Civil Service.

a:gender is an award winning Civil Service network.

  • To support compliance with the Public Sector Duty across the Civil Service by helping to identify discrimination against, and harassment of, transsexual people, both as employees and as service users, and to assist constructively in the reduction and where possible, elimination of these adverse impacts.

  • To increase knowledge of issues affecting transsexual/transgender staff, and staff who identify as intersex.

  • To work towards the eradication of individual and institutionalised transphobia.

  • To provide confidential and mutual support within a safe environment for members to share experiences of working in government Departments/Agencies and associated Departments/Offices.

  • To offer advice on issues relating to transsexual/transgender staff, and staff who identify as intersex, to meetings, induction projects, training, etc.

  • To provide consultation to and to raise concerns with managers and staff in Government Departments/Agencies and associated Departments/Offices.

  • To continue to strengthen a:gender's reputation as a respected source of advice and information that departments can draw upon and to raise a:gender's profile.

  • To provide confidential and mutual support to individuals and managers in the workplace.

  • To liaise between government departments & 'external' providers of support for TS/TG/Intersex people (e.g GIRES, Press for Change, Mermaids).

  • To increase the knowledge and awareness of issues affecting transsexual/transgender staff, and staff who identify as intersex by delivering bespoke training events and workshops as required.

  • To provide advice and information on all relevant legislation e.g Gender Recognition Act 2004 and Equality act 2010.

  • To hold regular meetings and provide local contact points for staff who are transitioning, have transitioned or about to transition in the workplace.

  • To provide advice and support for staff who are being harassed and discriminated against in the workplace.

  • Create and deliver bespoke training and awareness sessions in the workplace to numerous Departments and Agencies across the UK Civil Service.

  • Provide expert advice, guidance and support to managers, staff and policy owners across Civil Service.

  • Contributed to and feedback on the update of the Transgender Action Plan alongside key stakeholder groups.

  • Created a:gender's key document"The Workplace and Gender Reassignment" a guide for staff and managers.

  • a:gender Seminar London May 2013. A celebration of a:gender's 10 years.

  • First winner of the Civil Service Diversity & Equality Award for Inspiration

Employees of Government Departments/Agencies are able to join, We have 4 types of membership on offer:

Full Members
Staff in Government Departments/Agencies who have permanently changed, or who have informed their manager/HR department that they are about to begin or are in the process of permanently changing their perceived gender, or who identify as intersex.

Associate Members

Staff in Government Departments/Agencies who have declared the need for a permanent change of perceived gender, but have not yet decided to begin the process of transition.

Friends

Any member of the Civil Service who wishes to support the aims and objectives of the a:gender network.


Affiliated Members

Staff in Government Departments/Agencies on current contracts and appropriate non Government departmental Bodies can apply for affiliated membership of a:gender.
Contact us atagender@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

The Workplace and Gender Reassignment

A Guide for Staff and Managers (November 2013 Revised Edition)


A thoroughly researched and tested publication that has been adopted as a standard best-practice text by many departments, and has become widely recognised as the a:gender flagship document for guidance in the workplace.

This guidance is based on an original document authored by Dee Evans in 2005. Whilst this was developed for the Home Office use, it has proved a useful source and been well received across many departments. Thus, this updated document takes a more generic approach to accommodate the wider Civil Service and public sector organisations.

Download from GOV.UK

Talent Action Plan

(refreshed at March 2015)

Removing Barriers to Success


In September 2014 the Civil Service published the Talent Action Plan, which forms part of the ongoing Civil Service Reform programme.

The Plan set out concrete measures to remove barriers to the most talented civil servants succeeding, informed by the Hay Group’s study into Women in Whitehall. The priority was, and remains, to understand the actual issues people are facing and design specific remedies.

Since September, the Leadership Statement has been published, setting out the behaviours that expected of all Civil Service leaders and research on the challenges facing three under-represented groups of staff has been published:-

  • Those declaring a Black, Asian or Minority-Ethnic (BAME) background
  • Those declaring a disability or health condition
  • Those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGB or T).

a:gender has been recognised within this publication for its positive contribution in identifying that key areas have not been included. To see what was said, refer to pages 24 & 25.

Download from GOV.UK

Terminology

Sections with mean there is futher information upon clicking and contain attachments.

Gender consists of two related aspects; gender identity and gender expression...(more)

An adjective to describe a person who began life as one biological sex, then implements the personal process of gender reassignment...(more)

An umbrella term to describe individuals whom experience gender dysphoria...(more)

A medical condition to describe discomfort in a persons gender identity and gender expression ...(more)

The process of aligning gender expression with gender identity ...(more)

Someone who may have biological characteristics of both sexes...(more)

Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.

Symptons

There are no physical symptoms of gender dysphoria, but people with the condition may experience and display a range of feelings and behaviours.


Read more at NHS Choices

Causes

Gender dysphoria was traditionally thought to be a psychiatric condition, with its causes believed to originate in the mind. However, more recent studies have suggested that gender dysphoria is biological and caused by the development of gender identity before birth. The condition is not a mental illness.


Read more at NHS Choices

Diagnosis

To obtain a Diagnosis, an individual may pay for a private consultation or be refered trough their local GP surgery to the nearest Gender Identity Clinic (GIC)


Read more at NHS Choices

Treatment

Treatment for gender dysphoria aims to help people with the condition live the way they want to, in their preferred gender identity. What this means will vary from person to person, and is different for children, young people and adults. Your specialist care team will work with you on a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs.


Read more at NHS Choices

Intersex

Intersex is a perfectly naturally occurring variation of human devleopment, and clinical interventions remain motivated by a need to "minimise family concern and distress" and "mitigate the risks of "stigmatisation and gender-identity confusion". Surgical interventions intrinsically focus on appearance, and not sensation or sexual function.

Being intersex is not a disease, it is not a "disorder", it is perfectly normal - and actually quite common - variation within human devleopment. Intersex people represent a signigicant percentage of the global population, from 1.7% (Anne Fausto-Sterling, sexologist, 2000) to 4% (Various authors).

What is Intersex?

The term intersex was adopted by science in the early 20th century and applied to human beings whose biological sex cannot be classified as clearly male or female. An intersex person may have the biological attributes of both sexes or lack some of the biological attributes considered necessary to be defined as one or the other sex.

Intersex is always congenital and can originate from genetic, chromosomal or hormonal variations. It may be a combination of all three elements. Environmental influences such as endocrine disruptors can also play a role in some intersex differences.

Intersex is a perfectly naturally occurring variation of human development, clinical interventions still occur today with the main reason for it being a need to minimise family concern and distress that society presently places on parents by only tolerating the binary sexes namely boy or girl. Surgical interventions generally focus on appearance, and not sensation or sexual function.

Most people born intersex identify as men or women and feel no reason to voluntarily alter their bodies to fit the male / female binary blueprint.

Intersex is not about sexual orientation. People with intersex variations have as diverse a range of sexual orientations as non-intersex people. Neither is Intersex about transition or gender identity; Intersex people have as varied a range of gender identities as non-intersex people.

Intersex variations are always inborn and can originate from genetic, chromosomal or hormonal variations. Environmental influences such as endocrine disruptors can also play a role in some intersex differences. The term Intersex is not applicable to situations where individuals deliberately alter their own anatomical characteristics (Transgender / Transsexual).

Legislation

Under the Equality Act 2010, Intersex is not specifically a protected characteristic. Having searched various existing legislation I am unable to find any legislation that specifically protects Intersex people. Presently the situation is that the sex that has been recorded on an Intersex colleague’s birth certificate determines what protection applies to that individual. However this potentially may not offer full protection if the individual is of ambiguous sex.


The implications on equal rights for Intersex people are complex and can force them to either hide the fact that they were born intersex and therefore silent denying them the right to be who they truly are or force them to identify as transgender to be given protection under the EA 2010.

Dependant on how the act is interpreted in re the protected characteristic of “sex”, the Equality Act 2010 states:-
  • (a) a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is
    • a reference to a man or to a woman;
  • (b) a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference
    • to persons of the same sex.

Health and Social Issues

Intersex people have health issues arising from their difference, they may also have medical needs that arise directly from early medical interventions they have been subjected to, examples include:-

  • Feeling and being different.
  • Not fitting into the binary gender society expectations.
  • Complications over personal relationships.
  • Not being able to be a biological mother or father.
  • Subjected to comments regarding genitalia.
  • Subjected to comments about appearance such as excess body and facial hair, voice, size, male pattern baldness which can necessitate needing to wear a wig.
  • Being excluded from certain activities and clubs where the activities are based around being either male or female.
  • The trauma of undergoing gender tests which can involve up to 17 tests managed by an endocrinologist. The process can also involve long-term appointments with gynaecologists and dermatologists depending upon individual needs. This process apart from being time consuming can have a detrimental psychological impact.

Statistics

Intersex people represent a significant percentage of the global population, ranging from 1.7% (Anne Fausto-Sterling, sexologist, 2000) to 4% (various authors).

As there are currently 412,000 Civil Servants on a full-time equivalent (FTE) basis and 447,000 on a headcount basis (source Gov.UK 8/04/2015) it is reasonable to argue that we have potentially between 7,800 and 17,880 Intersex colleagues.

Key Legislation

Gender Recognition Act 2004

The Gender Recognition Act provides transsexual people with legal recognition in their 'acquired' gender. Legal recognition follows from the issue of a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). In cases were the Gender recognition panel (a body made up of judicially trained lawyers and doctors) is satisfied that the applicant:

  • Has or has had gender dysphoria;
  • Has lived in the acquired gender throughout the preceding two years and;
  • Intends to continue to live in the acquired gender until death.

Download from legislation.gov.uk

Data Protection & Humans Right Act 1998

For the purposes of the Data Protection Act, gender reassignment and any information appertaining to an individuals gender history would constitute sensitive data, which can only be processed for certain specific reasons, as set out in the Act.
Furthermore, Article 8 of the Human Rights Act gives everyone, including transgender people, the right to privacy and family life.





Download from legislation.gov.uk

Sex Discrimination Act

An Act to render unlawful certain kinds of sex discrimination and discrimination on the ground of marriage, and establish a Commission with the function of working towards the elimination of such discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity between men and women generally; and for related purposes


Download from legislation.gov.uk

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 consolidates the many discrimination acts and regulations established over the previous decades. Gender reassignment is one of the nine distinct protected characteristics covered and the provisions made previously under the Sex Discrimination Act on gender reassignment are strengthened.




Download from legislation.gov.uk

Members Contributions

A selection of real-life stories of Civil Servants whom identify as Transgender or Intersex. Click to expand.

A recent Contribution from one of our members (read the full story)

One of the main featured stories in our workplace guide,(read the full story)

One of the main featured stories in our workplace guide,(read the full story)

Interested in joining a:gender?

Providing you work for a government department or agency;you can download our application form here
Please complete and return this toagender@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Contact us...

Vulcan House, Iron 303
6 Millsands, Sheffield
S3 8NU


Mail: agender@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

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