On the 4th of April 2022, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (‘EHRC’) published its guidance on single-sex spaces. We have received a lot of questions around your rights as young, trans people following this guidance being published. This helpsheet is something you can refer to, to understand what the guidance means and what your rights are in single sex spaces.
Who is the EHRC?
The EHRC is the UK’s ‘equality watchdog’. This means their job is to promote equality and fairness in society.
What is the EHRC’s single-sex guidance?
The EHRC has published its guidance on “single-sex spaces” such as domestic violence shelters or services to support people struggling with homelessness.
Mermaids is not happy with the guidance because we feel it is not inclusive enough of trans people.
This is a help sheet to remind you what your rights are and what to do if you get asked to leave a toilet, changing room or other ‘single sex’ facility.
What To Do If Someone Asks You To Leave A Facility
- If you are at risk of harm, try and get somewhere safe and call someone you trust, or the emergency services if you feel comfortable in doing so on 999.
- Do not put yourself at risk of harm – your safety is the most important thing.
- You do not have to come out to anyone. Your gender history is your personal, private information that is yours to disclose to those you want to.
- If you can, ask for the manager/a teacher you like as well as a safe place so you can call someone you trust.
- If you can, call someone you trust to talk through what has happened and ask them to take notes.
- If you can, ask the facility/your school for a copy of its trans inclusion policy.
- If you can, ask the facility/your school for its reasons for your removal, in writing. If they tell you verbally, take a note of this if you can.
- If you do not agree with the decision to remove you, you can say this, but make sure it is safe to do so. If you can, you could also send an email to the venue/your school giving them your opinion.
- You could ask the school/venue to contact Mermaids on 0808 801 0400 to discuss the matter.
- You can try and organise a meeting with the person who has made the decision, to obtain more information and put forward your own opinion. Have someone with you who you trust when doing this so they can support you and take notes.
- You can call Mermaids on 0808 801 0400 Monday-Friday 9am-9pm for support and if appropriate, we can put you in contact with our legal team who may be able to support you in addressing what has happened. Please note we are not an emergency service and are not able to offer legal advice.
Some Key Points
- This guidance is not the law, and cannot be enforced.
- You still have the right to access the services and facilities you did before the guidance was published.
- You cannot be excluded from a single sex space without a fair reason. Someone being ‘scared’ of trans people is not a good enough reason.
- You are protected by the Equality Act 2010 as a trans person and cannot be unlawfully discriminated against.
- Each decision has to be dealt with on its ‘own facts’. A facility or school cannot have a blanket rule to not ever allow trans people to use single sex spaces.
Trans people, like everyone else, need to be welcomed into spaces that make them feel respected and happy in their gender identity. We want to live in society and be able to access changing rooms, shops, and toilets with the same ease as everyone else.
Mermaids exists to support trans, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families. If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out to our helpline, we are here for you: 0808 801 0400.
Please note this help sheet does not constitute legal advice.