A v West Yorkshire Police

1999 Employment Tribunal second ruling
1999 Employment Appeal Tribunal – Restricted Reporting Order
2001 Employment Appeal Tribunal
2002 Court of Appeal
2004 House of Lords


A male to female transsexual was turned down for a job as a police officer because duties involved searching suspects of one sex or the other. This employment case, under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 went all the way to House of Lords, where it was judged that this was unlawful discrimination.

“Visually and for all practical purposes indistinguishable”

The case concerned the requirement that a police constable carrying out a search has to be “of the same sex ” as the person searched. The House of Lords interpreted sex in this case to mean:

“The acquired gender of a post-operative transsexual who is visually and for all practical purposes indistinguishable from non-transsexual members of that gender.”

This language was later adopted into the EHRC Statutory Code of Conduct.

Lord Bingham concluded:

“No one of that gender searched by such a person could reasonably object to the search.”