Anti-Discrimination NSW


You can’t legislate for kindness and compassion - claim for Transgender discrimination

Published: ​8 August 2016​

Attention all service providers

On 7th July the ADB participated once again in Homeless Connect at the Sydney Town Hall. Along with numerous other agencies both government and non-government provided information about our services along with homemade goodies and promotional freebies to Sydney’s homeless people.​


During the morning, a transgender woman approached our table. She had been shopping at a well- known skin care retail outlet when staff addressed her as “Sir”. She told them that she was a recognised transgender woman and that she preferred to be addressed as a female but staff failed to cooperate. She found this embarrassing and humiliating in front of other customers. 

When she contacted the Board’s Enquiry Service to make a complaint, the officer she spoke to explained that the Anti-Discrimination Act, 1977, NSW (ADA) did not cover this kind of disrespectful treatment.  ​

Discrimination in the provision of goods and services​

The ADA makes discrimination against people who are transgender unlawful in a number of areas, including the provision of goods and services. 

Discrimination in the provision of goods and services, however, is defined as:

  • Refusing to provide a person with those goods or services, or 
  • Treating them less favourably in the terms on which they are provided with the goods or services. 
Our transgender lady was not refused a service by the shop and she was not sold products on different terms, such as price or quantity, than anyone else. The ADA does not make it unlawful to treat people with disrespect or discourtesy. 

Nevertheless, she said, she had told all her friends not to shop at the retail outlet concerned. 

Lesson learned 

Transgender people, as well as anyone else who could be described as having diverse sexual or gender characteristics, deserve to be treated with the same respect and courtesy as any other customer or consumer. While it may not be unlawful not to address someone as their identified gender, it is very bad for business!   

Back to August 2016 - Equal Time Newsletter​​​

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