Much of the discrimination and harassment aimed at lesbians, gay men and bisexuals has a basis in prejudice against anyone who behaves in a way that is seen to conflict with a persons gender.
Sometimes prejudice against a gay man may focus on whether he is not seen as a 'real' man or is considered to be effeminate.
Similarly some forms of discrimination against lesbians is based on the idea that a lesbian cannot be a 'real' woman because she is not with or seeking a man or does not fit within the gender stereotype.
In legal terms there is legal protection against discrimination based on sexuality in the areas of employment, goods and services and a growing recognition of equality under the law in many other areas.
However, except in the area of employment, there is very little protection against discrimination on the basis of gender expression.
A person who is transitioning from one gender to another under medical supervision has significant protection against discrimination in the workplace. After someone 'completes' the transition in legal terms and obtains a Gender Recognition Certificate they are treated as fully in their 'new' gender and can rely on the laws against sex discrimination.
For people who are not transitioning, but do not fit comfortably within the categories of male or female, the situation is more difficult.
In order to achieve an protection against discrimination a person needs to see if the discrimination they are receiving could be treated as being based of one of the legally prohibited categories. The legal protection against discrimination generally protects against direct discrimination, where the discrimination is aimed at an individual because they have a particular characteristic, and in-direct discrimination where a rule or policy may effect people of a particular group significantly more than others.
The main characteristic that usually receive some protection are:-
A male who expresses his gender identity by appearing more feminine may be treated as effeminate by the people he works with. If he is not transitioning from male to female it will not be possible to use the legal protection that applies to transgender employees. However if discrimination takes the form of abuse based on that persons assumed sexuality then the protection against discrimination based on sexuality applies.
Similarly a straight woman who's expression of her gender identity is considered masculine or butch may find that her colleagues or employer believe she is a lesbian and discriminate against her. In this case too she would have the same protection as if she actually was a lesbian.
Protection against discrimination on the basis of a persons:-
There is a questionnaire procedure that is used when claiming discrimination in the provision of goods and services that is particularly useful as it may help determine what assumptions were being made. More details can be found on our goods and services site.