LONDON, June 25, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Potential changes in transgender policy will not force women to share personal facilities with biological males, government officials in the United Kingdom have promised.
The UK’s Government Equalities Office made the announcement as a clarification to a plan to let gender-confused individuals change their legal gender without first obtaining a gender dysphoria diagnosis, something Prime Minister Theresa May called for last fall. The office is tasked with “policy relating to women, sexual orientation and transgender equality.”
Critics raised concerns that legal “women” who were actually men could then share facilities such as restrooms, dressing rooms, and gender-specific swimming pools with actual women.
“Any reform of the Gender Recognition Act will not change the protected characteristics in the Equality Act nor the exemptions under the Equality Act that allow provision for single and separate sex spaces,” the office announced, according to the UK Independent. “Providers of women-only services can continue to provide services in a different way, or even not provide services to trans individuals, provided it is objectively justified on a case-by-case basis.”
“The same can be said about toilets, changing rooms or single-sex activities. Providers may exclude trans people from facilities of the sex they identify with, providing it is a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim,” the announcement continued.
But pro-trans activists say there’s less to the statement than meets the eye. Paul Twocock of the UK LGBT group Stonewall claims the statement only means the upcoming reform won’t undo existing exemptions to current law, which “already states that trans people can access single-sex spaces that match their gender.”
Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt acknowledged there were “very legitimate” questions about the subject, suggesting that confusion on this and other points will be clarified over the course of the consultation period for the proposed reform.
The objections and clarification were driven in part by a series of incidents in which women in gender-specific areas were placed with biological males, including gender-confused men attempting to use women’s only swimming pools, the National Health Service assigning a male trans nurse to a woman who had requested a female nurse for her pap smear, and locking a bipolar patient with a fear of men in a psych ward with an “extremely male-bodied” transgender patient.
These concerns led several women’s groups to circulate a petition demanding that women “be consulted on how to protect women’s and girls’ rights, safety, privacy and dignity” before the government changes its gender reassignment laws. The petitioners collected more than 12,000 signatures.
The change in gender policy has yet to be finalized, and the latest statement suggests that just how significant the change will be remains uncertain, the Daily Mail adds. The current requirement that doctors diagnose adults with gender dysphoria before allowing them to change their legal gender is “not working,” the government said, but “that does not necessarily mean we are proposing self-declaration of gender.”
Rather than being a mental construct, evidence shows that gender is rooted in an individual’s chromosomes and reflected in hundreds of genetic characteristics. The American Psychological Association still classifies gender dysphoria as a mental disorder, though the World Health Organization dropped it from its list of mental disorders last week.