Conciliations - transgender discrimination



Rental application denied (March 2021)

Kim* is a transgender woman studying at university. She applied to rent a room in a share house for female students. Her application was denied when the owner of the house found out she was transgender. The owner said the property was let to female students from diverse ethnic backgrounds who might object to sharing the accommodation with a transgender woman.

Kim lodged a complaint with ADNSW. 

The owner of the property did not have an exemption under the Anti-Discrimination Act to offer accommodation only to women. Even if the owner had such an exemption, it may not grant permission to exclude transgender women from accommodation offered to females.

The complaint was resolved following a conciliation conference held via phone. Kim received a verbal apology from the owner and a monetary payment.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual


Harassment at work after transition (Feb 2014)

A transgender woman had worked as a nurse for twenty years, both before, during and after her transition from male to female.

She alleged that she was subjected to sexual harassment at work while identifying as male, including negative comments, touching, inappropriate calls and messages and requests for sex, and no action was taken when she complained to management.

The woman went on leave as she was unfit for work because of the stress caused by this behaviour and an assault that occurred outside the workplace. When she returned to work she worked in a different unit, but by then she had transitioned to female and her new colleagues refused to acknowledge her new gender and refused to call by her new name.

The woman lodged complaints of sexual harassment and transgender discrimination. She alleged that her employer failed to respond to the complaints she made, failed to provide training for staff, and was vicariously responsible for the harassment she experienced.

At conciliation, the woman was assisted by a representative from her union and explained how much she had been hurt by the actions of staff and how much they could benefit from more training. Her employer responded positively and a settlement was reached.

The settlement involved: compensation of $5,000 as an ex gratia payment to acknowledge her distress, hurt and humiliation; a written apology; and training for all employees and managers in the woman’s section to on anti-discrimination legislation, practices and guidelines, with a specific focus on gender diversity. The woman would also be given the opportunity to review the training package to confirm that it covered all the important issues. The woman also resigned from her position.

Attitude changed in interview

A male-to-female transgender person applied for a job as a secretary in a company. When she went for an interview the manager praised her application, saying how comprehensive it was. The interview went well, until the applicant said that she had had a sex change. The employer’s previously positive attitude towards her changed and the employer told her that some of their clients would feel uncomfortable dealing with a transgender employee. When she didn’t get the job, she complained to the Board. At conciliation, the employer apologised to her and agreed to provide staff with training on transgender discrimination.

Applications unsuccessful after transition

A transgender man who worked as a casual youth worker alleged that he was treated less favourably because of his transgender status when his various applications for a permanent position were unsuccessful. He alleged that prior to his change of gender orientation, he was considered to be an excellent employee as a female youth worker.

The employer denied the allegations and provided documentary evidence that in each case the job had gone to the most suitable applicant. The matter was resolved when the man agreed to accept a statement of service and a statement of regret for his feelings.

Made redundant

A woman who worked at a retail company alleged she was made redundant because her supervisor knew she was transgender (male to female) and did not want to employ 'a weirdo'. She was the only person made redundant and she alleged her position was later advertised. At conciliation, the company agreed to review its anti-discrimination policies with the assistance of the Board. It also agreed to pay the complainant $4,000.

Goods and services

Incident on bus

A woman made a complaint of transgender discrimination after an incident on a bus. She alleged that although she rang the bell in plenty of time the driver did not stop, and when she called out the driver addressed her as ‘mate’, which she found offensive.

The driver said that the woman had only rung the bell at the last minute, and he had not seen her and had thought it was a man’s voice that was calling out. He said that the complainant approached him, and he was afraid that he would be hurt.

He therefore did not stop at the following stop, which appeared to be in an isolated spot. An altercation ensued in which the complainant alleged that the driver pushed her to the ground, and the driver alleged that he ‘poked’ her.

The complaint was resolved when the bus company agreed to pay the complainant $2,500. The bus driver also lost his job as a result of the incident.

Laughed at in shop

A transgender woman went to a shop to return a satellite navigation device that was faulty. She alleged that the technicians in the shop pointed at her and laughed and said ‘hey, that’s a man!’

After consultation with the Board, the complaint was settled when the store management gave the complainant a statement of regret and agreed to replace her navigation device.

Birth certificate

A recognised transgender woman applied for membership of a women’s only sport centre. A recognised transgender person is someone who has a new birth certificate or equivalent document in their preferred gender.

She said that she would have been happy for the centre to sight a copy of her birth certificate, but the centre’s management insisted that she provide a photocopy that they would retain, which she felt was inappropriate. She made a complaint of transgender discrimination to the Board.

At conciliation, she said she was no longer interested in joining the centre, due to the problems that had occurred. However, the complaint was resolved with the centre agreeing to pay an amount to the law centre from which the complainant had received advice, and an amount to the complainant as compensation for humiliation and suffering.

Problems at child care centre

A transgender woman lodged several complaints on behalf of herself and her children against an organisation providing services to her children. She alleged that the organisation failed to correctly recognize her parenting status, kept records with her former name against her express wishes, and failed to intervene appropriately when she and her children were harassed by others in the organisation. She alleged that the problems only arose since the temporary appointment of a new staff member.

The Anti-Discrimination Board contacted the organisation and encouraged both parties to meet and discuss the complaints. After a meeting and further discussion, both reported that all matters raised by the complainant had been resolved. Both parties thanked the Board for its assistance in helping to resolve the complaint.

Registered clubs

Female toilets

A male-to-female transgender person was a member of a golf club for several years. She had been using the female toilets during that time. One day she was told by management to use the men’s toilets. She tried to resolve the problem with the club without success. She then complained to the Board.

At conciliation, the club director agreed to change the club’s records to reflect the member’s female name and to allow her to use the female toilets without restriction. He also agreed to provide training to staff on anti-discrimination legislation.