Position statement on transphobia

This is a working statement intended to provide clarity on the position of the CSP in  relation to transphobia. It guides the CSP in interpreting transphobia and is available to members to guide them.

We recognise that, like other forms of discrimination, the understanding of the manifestations of transphobia will evolve. We will need to update our position in light of experience and learning, as and when appropriate. This statement will therefore be reviewed and updated as the law or HCPC requirements change or when the CSP Equity, Diversity and Belonging Committee recommends changes in light of evolving understanding of this issue.

Our position on transphobia

The CSP opposes transphobia. We are committed to eradicating it from our profession. We recognise that the discrimination and disadvantage that transgender people face can be context specific and intersectional.

Transphobia in the workplace and within healthcare is damaging and destructive for transgender and non-binary people. Like any form of discrimination against people with protected characteristics, transphobia is a barrier to the culture of safety needed to progress physiotherapy into an equitable, diverse and inclusive profession.

We recognise that gender reassignment and sex are legally protected characteristics under the Equality Act. Gender reassignment protection goes beyond those people who have transitioned. However, respecting the human rights of gender non-conforming, transgender, transsexual, genderqueer and non-cis people must go beyond just observing the law as it currently stands. Respecting people’s chosen gender and identity is fundamental. Gender identity should be respected and discrimination faced on the grounds of gender identity should be opposed.

Regulation of physiotherapists

It is the HCPC which regulates the conduct of registrant physiotherapists. New HCPC standards of conduct, performance and ethics come into effect from 1st September 2024 and include:

1.5 You must treat people fairly and be aware of the potential impact that your personal values, biases and beliefs may have on the care, treatment or other services that you provide to service users and carers and in your interactions with colleagues.

1.6 You must take action to ensure that your personal values, biases and beliefs do not lead you to discriminate against service users, carers or colleagues. Your personal values, biases and beliefs must not detrimentally impact the care, treatment or other services that you provide.

1.7 You must raise concerns about colleagues if you think that they are treating people unfairly and/or their personal values, biases and beliefs have led them to discriminate against service users, carers and/or colleagues or they have detrimentally impacted the care, treatment or other services that they provide. This should be done following the relevant procedures within your practice and maintain the safety of all involved.

CSP members also agree to voluntarily abide by our own professional standards in relation to their behaviour. The CSP Professional Committee has been tasked with reviewing our professional standards. The revised standards will reflect an expectation that members respect equity, diversity and belonging and behave accordingly.

The CSP expects members to educate themselves about transphobia.

Defining transphobia

It is necessary for the safety of our transgender members and transgender patients, for the CSP to promote an understanding of transphobia within our profession. Defining specific discrimination, including transphobia, is complex because discrimination is expressed and experienced in many ways. There is no definitive list of transphobic behaviours but it includes, for example, the questioning of a transgender person's gender identity. The following definitions will assist members understand what transphobia is.

Transphobia: the fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are transgender, including denying their gender identity or refusing to accept it. Transphobia may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, trans-identified.

(Source: CSP Equity, Diversity and Belonging glossary.)

The core value underlying all transphobia is a rejection of trans identity and a refusal to acknowledge that it could possibly be real or valid. Transphobia has no single, simple manifestation. It is complex and can include a range of behaviours and arguments.

The consequence of transphobia is that trans people struggle to live openly and comfortably in society. An ultimate outcome may be the erasure of trans people as a viable class of people.

Transphobia includes, but is not limited to:

  • Attempting to remove trans people’s rights.
  • Misrepresenting trans people.
  • Abuse.
  • Systematically excluding trans people from discussions about issues that directly affect them.
  • Other forms of discrimination.

(Source: TransActual)

Transphobia is the fear or dislike of someone based on the fact that they are or are perceived of as trans or trans allies. It can take place through words or actions, expressing itself as harassment or hatred or in discriminatory practices and behaviours.

(Source: National Education Union)

CSP commitments

  1. We will encourage the development of safe spaces for education around transgender issues. Discussing discrimination can be challenging andpeople should feel safe to discuss how we address all forms of oppression with compassion and sensitivity, centred on the experience of those who are oppressed. This includes enabling respectful and reflective discussion of transphobia.
  2. We will provide advice for members on protection at work for transgender people.
  3. We will provide guidance on treating transgender patients to ensure appropriate and fair treatment.
  4. We will inform members about transphobia through our member campaign on equity, diversity and belonging.
  5. We will challenge transphobia within health care, including challenging trans exclusionary approaches to service provision, and stand with other professions to maintain an inclusive and safe health care space for transgender staff and patients.
  6. We will show allyship by challenging transphobia outside the profession including opposing so called “conversion therapy”. But in doing so we note the advice of the Equity, Diversity and Belonging Committee not to hold or take positions on the following issues: trans athletes, single sex services outside healthcare or gender recognition legislation.
  7. We will not allow transphobic comments to be published on the CSP website, on iCSP, in our e-bulletins or in Frontline.
  8. We will produce an operational plan showing the timescales for delivering these commitments and who is responsible for the delivery of each commitment.

Agreed by the CSP Council on 15 March 2024.

Launched on 11 April 2024.

Last reviewed: