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Leaked government plan to ban trans people from some bathrooms in civil service

Leaked government plan to ban trans people from some bathrooms in civil service

Jamie Wareham
Jamie Wareham
TLDR: New guidance, leaked to VICE World News, reports the UK government is set to replicate planned guidance for schools in the civil service. It will ban trans people from some toilets, and rebrand gender identity as a belief, instead of an identity or characteristic.

Leaked civil service guidance shows plans to ban trans people from some bathrooms unless they have a Gender Recognition Certificate.

The guidance seen by VICE World News also refers to being transgender as a “belief” – a marked move away from its legal recognition in the Equality Act as a protected identity or characteristic.

LGBTQIA+ organisations have blasted the leaked guidance that mirrors similar plans for schools reported in The Times and The Sun.

What does the leaked civil service guidance say?

The document outlines proposed changes to the UK civil service’s “Gender Identity and Intersex policies” – this will affect around 500,000 staff members who work across the politically neutral government service.

The new policies state civil servants should equally recognise “gender critical beliefs” and “gender identity beliefs”. It will open the door for employees to share controversial views on trans lives without being penalised.

But it further states that the civil service can “require” trans people without a Gender Recognition Certificate to use disabled or gender-neutral, single lockable toilets. Less than 1% of trans people have one, and waiting times are over five years to start the two year medicalised process of acquiring one.

It's a step change from previous guidance, which said “all individuals have the right to express their identity at work” and use “any appropriate single sex toilets and facilities”.

In response to the leak a cabinet office spokesperson said they did not comment on leaks, while another told PinkNews: “This is a draft document and not civil service HR policy.”

Transphobic civil service guidance likely contravenes the Equality Act

Many have pointed out the draft guidance would likely contravene the Equality Act and face a number of challenges in the court.

“These measures are illegal – the Equality Act does not only protect trans people who have a gender recognition certificate – and revolting in equal measure,” Good Law Project lawyer Jolyon Maugham said.

Meanwhile, Stonewall said the draft guidance would be “unworkable” and “brazenly ignores long-established laws around single-sex spaces outlined in the world-class Equality Act.”

This is the latest in a line of policies that likely contravene the Equality Act, which, if announced, would be challenged and end up in court around next year's general election (which must be held by January 2024 at the latest but is likely to be in May).

Conservative party deputy chair has already indicated his beliefs that the party should fight the next election on “culture war” issues such as trans rights – The Independent

While all of this is debated and played out in the media – trans people and many others in the LGBTQIA+ community – are building a growing sense that like the 80s, a target is on our back again.

I take solace that even though things will likely get worse for some time, we've won fights like this before and will again.

Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay queer disabled - A note from me:

This latest scoop is little surprise. But it is yet again - striking, frightening and stark.

If the government moves forward with this guidance, it will send a chilling message to businesses all over the UK that it's OK to allow transgender discrimination and hate to brew in their offices.

It's a 'culture war' issue, generated to distract and divide - not guidance or legislation based on what people want, feel or need.

It's able to do this in a media ecosphere hooked on transphobia, ‘culture wars’ and clickbait.

Instead of questioning what government guidance will mean for one of the smallest and most vulnerable groups in society - it’s cashing in on hate clicks.

It's time for a different kind of media. One that asks critical questions of the government and opposition instead of simply echoing prejudice. That hires represents and understands LGBTQIA+ people.

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