“This morning the UK’s bolshiest trans activist handed nPower a final Note stating that, unless she heard from them by 11 o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their gender discriminatory policy in respect of name changes, a state of war would exist between us.
“I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this lady is at war with nPower.
“You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win peace has failed. Yet I cannot believe that there is anything more or anything different that I could have done and that would have been more successful.
“Up to the very last it would have been quite possible to have arranged a peaceful and honourable settlement between nPower and myself, but their management would not have it. They had evidently made up their mind to take on poor defenceless me.”
OK. Who’s the drama queen today?
But I just love that speech (its Chamberlain on the eve of WWII in case anyone was asleep during history), and I did feel a bit that way this morning. That is, way back in April, I think nPower discriminated against me – by treating me rather differently from the way they treated my partner. They apologised, but claimed mistake: in fact, their policy was supposedly even-handed, and they should have discriminated against my partner too.
Well, at base is a pretty important issue: whether, when someone changes their name, for transgender reasons or any other (like divorce or marriage), an organisation should have the right to demand documents.
In general, if someone sets up a condition for access to a service that applies rather differently to one gender compared to the other, that is discriminatory. Indirect discrimination: but discrimination all the same.
Here, the demand for documentation undoubtedly affects men and women differently – because women are far more likely to change name. So I would argue the requirement is discriminatory.
There is no statutory requirement for nPower to ask for documentation. So what about security? Er, no. There are loads of good operational ways for them to confirm someone’s ID – using the same security that they use before they speak to anyone on the phone – so ID should not be in doubt. Or if it was, they should shut down their call centres tout suite, because they can’t guarantee the security of ANYTHING they do.
But they don’t have to do it like this. So. I’ve started proceedings for discrimination in the County Court. One count of direct discrimination, one of indirect. I’ve offered them a cheap and easy way out of the first, and a way to solve the second. Will they bite?
Only time will tell.
P.S. I did speak to a very nice man in their legal department called Ken. Except he is also Kenneth on his e-mail. I wonder if nPower required a deed poll before he changed his name. 🙂