A trans woman arguing for the right to not have her trans status disclosed to the Jobcentre has won a legal battle against the Department of Work and Pensions.
According to the Solicitor Journal, the 44-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, argued it would be irrelevant for job centre staff to know her former gender.
The High Court found that it is a breach of her privacy rights for the Jobcentre to disclose the information.
The DWP has an extensive database of customer details, containing personal data for nearly 100 million people. Gender data can be retained in the database for up to 50 years following the person’s death.
Equality barrister Declan O’Dempsey said: “the judgment appears to permit the DWP some time to review and perhaps alter its systems for retaining gender reassignment data.
“Consequently, for some time to come, transgender benefits claimants such as C remain in the vulnerable position of interacting with DWP staff in the knowledge that their intensely private gender history may be revealed when it is simply not relevant.”
Solicitor Salima Budhani said: “While my client welcomes the court’s ruling, the judgment shows that much remains to be done to protect the privacy and dignity of this often marginalised group.
“The judge found that the DWP’s policies on which it relies as authority to retain this most personal information for what is essentially an indefinite period are incoherent and inaccessible.
“He accepted our evidence that a third policy detailing measures put in place by the DWP in an attempt to protect the centrally recorded gender change information gives rise to problems for transgender benefits customers – including the very effect that it intends to avoid: drawing attention to their trans status.
“This leaves my client and thousands of other transgender benefits recipients in an acutely vulnerable position, particularly in their interactions with local job centre staff who may come to know about their trans status when it is simply not relevant to the administration of their benefits.”