First Transgender Barrister: Transgender Issue Less A Political Football Than In US

Earlier this week I wrote about “a strange juxtaposition in employment discrimination law today:  The EEOC has just sued to, effectively, expand the rights of transgender people, while 23 states have just sued to, effectively, limit those rights. A unified country this is not; cracks and fissures have become the norm. …

These contrasting lawsuits perfectly parallel the divide — the polarization – in the country today.  As always, the workplace is the perfect battleground, the perfect microcosm for society’s political and cultural battles.  The workplace always sits on society’s many fault lines.”


A number of readers commented, but one comment in particular caught my eye.

Robin Moira White, a Barrister-at-Law at Old Square Chambers wrote:

“I was just reading your piece about the way transgender law is pulling in different directions in the US.

I was the first barrister in the UK to transition from male to female in practice at the UK discrimination bar, and regularly act for employers in such matters in the UK, which are becoming increasingly common.

We have recently had a report written by a committee of the House of Commons in the UK which is likely to be adopted and which will strengthen and widen protection for gender non typical individuals in the UK.  I think it is much less of a political football here than in the US.  We have fairly recently adopted same-sex marriage rights and that had very wide support.

Pleased to continue to watch developments ‘across the pond’ and intrigued to see where Clinton / Trump takes that!”


Barrister Making Speech In Court

I discovered that White was quoted extensively last month in a BBC News piece:

“The number of discrimination cases brought by transgender people is on the up, according to Robin White, an employment and barrister who is also transgender.  ‘The social norm, that we need to be more accepting of trans people, and alter our behaviour or the way we do things to assist trans people, has grown’ in the past 20 to 30 years, she says.

“Under the Equalities Act 2010 gender reassignment is one of nine ‘protected characteristics’ – including race, religion and sexual orientation – that are illegal to discriminate against, either directly or indirectly. Any requirement for people ‘to appear to be of a particular sex to use a particular facility’ could therefore indirectly discriminate against a transgender man or woman, because an unsuccessful transition might mean they do not meet that appearance characteristic, Ms White says.

Currently only ‘people who are proposing to, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment’ are protected by law, she explains.”

BTW:   A number of readers whispered to me about my use of the term “transgendered.”

Child, Father, The Son Of, Family, Boy

For example, Dr. Brooklynn Ann Welden, a conflict management/communications coach/consultant in the Buffalo area wrote:

“I had wanted to share with you a point that the parents of trans-children shared with me when I wrote my dissertation: ‘transgendered’ makes the fact of being transgender appear to have happened to the person. I was urged to use ‘transgender’ instead.”

I will use that term now.


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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]