The Government Equalities Office doesn’t know if it employs any transgender people

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The Government Equalities Office does not know if it employs anyone who is transgender, despite advising employers to collect monitoring data on trans employees.

The astounding news comes from a Parliamentary question to the department, which is currently reviewing gender recognition procedures for trans people, tabled by Labour MP Mark Hendrick.

He had asked the Minister for Women and Equalities “how many staff of the Government Equalities office identify as male, female, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender fluid, bi-gender, non-binary, gender queer, gender non-conforming, tri-gender, all genders, intersex and another gender identity”.

In her response, junior equalities minister Caroline Dinenage was unable to give any significant data beyond confirming “there are 19 male and 35 female members of staff in the Government Equalities Office”.

Ms Dinenage admitted: “We do not record data for transgender, gender fluid, bi-gender, non-binary, gender queer, gender non-conforming, tri-gender, all genders, intersex and an other gender identity.”

She added: “We are unable to provide information for gay, lesbian, bisexual to protect individuals’ identity, as numbers below 5 are suppressed [to preserve anonymity]”.

Just last year, the GEO released a guide for employers emphasising the need to include trans issues in equality monitoring data.

It directed employers: “By asking appropriate questions about gender identity and trans status on these forms, employers can send a signal that they are serious about equality, diversity and inclusion. Although the ‘T’ is often included with LGB in relation to networks, employers should ask about gender identity in a separate question from one about sexual orientation.

“This can enable trans people who have a clear male or female identity to choose male or female, but also let you know they are transgender.”

Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee, chaired by Conservative MP Maria Miller, released a landmark report on trans issues in January.

The committee recommended 35 separate reforms related to trans people: warning that the NHS is currently in violation of the law due to strained services, finding that the current process of gender recognition is not fit for purpose, and bolstering anti-discrimination protections.

The government finally released a reply to the report in June, and while it did commit to a review of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, a large number of the recommendations were effectively rebuffed, with the Government Equalities Office proposing to ‘continue to monitor the issue’ rather than pursue reform.