For the first time, the UK government has launched an action plan to tackle the inequalities facing transgender people in society.

Entitled “Advancing transgender equality: a plan for action” and released by the Home Office today, it promises tougher sentences for hate crimes, support for trans pupils in schools, and tailored recruitment advice for businesses.

Statistics show that 70 per cent of children who are uncertain about their gender suffer bullying, and 88 per cent of transgender employees experience discrimination or harassment in their workplace.

In September, the police reported a 14% rise in transphobic hate crime across the UK from 2009 to 2010.

The Home Office said the document is intended to create a framework for communities to work with the government to challenge and overcome persisting inequalities.

The government’s online surveys this year received 2,172 responses from the trans community, the largest form of engagement with the group ever conducted in the UK.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: “Too many transgender people still face prejudice at every stage of their lives, from playground bullying, to being overlooked for jobs or targeted for crime.

“I am proud to announce the first government strategy to tackle the specific barriers facing transgender people.

“Like everyone else, transgender people have the right to be accepted, to live their lives free of harassment, and to be free to achieve any ambition they choose.”

According to the action plan, the government will publish a “clear and concise guide for health practitioners”, including GPs and Primary Care Trusts, on the treatment and care available to trans people, and ensure greater consistency in commissioning gender identity services.

The document also commits the government to raising the starting point for the sentences of murders motivated by hostility towards a transgender person from 15 to 30 years.

Lynne Featherstone, who is also the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, added: “Today is an important step, but I recognise that government can only go so far. So we will be working with schools, businesses and communities so that together, we can drive change and help consign transphobia to the past.”

April Ashley, who in 1960 became the first Briton to undergo sex-change surgery, said: “I think there are so many support groups out there unlike when I did my transition 52 years ago when there was no help at all. Today’s announcement shows we are moving forward to breaking down barriers and educating people.”

Jay Stewart, co founder of Gendered Intelligence, which works to tackle transphobic bullying in schools and across communities, said: “The transgender action plan demonstrates a commitment across government to ensure fair treatment to transgender people. It’s fantastic news for our community. We must now work together to educate people about what it means to be transgendered.

“The plan came about through working with the trans community, and this includes young trans people. I am delighted that Gendered Intelligence has played its part and that the voices of our young people have also been heard.”

The full document can downloaded as a PDF from the Home Office website.