Yesterday (4 April 2022) the Equality and Human Rights Commission published its guidance on single-sex spaces which can be found here. This is non-statutory guidance that explains the law, it is not the law itself.
The guidance provides a number of worrying examples of instances where trans people could be barred from single-sex spaces. The guidance states that trans people can be excluded from single-sex spaces if their presence infringes upon the ‘dignity’ or ‘safety’ of others. This is very concerning as it suggests that sharing a space with a trans person is inherently dangerous, and that trans people risk creating trauma to others simply by existing. This is extremely harmful and actively encourages fearmongering and bigotry towards the trans community.
Trans exclusionary practices are never legitimate. The year-on-year rise in transphobic hate crime illustrates the level of persecution our community already suffers and trans and non-binary people face multiple barriers in gaining access to the services and spaces that is their human right. The EHRC’s guidance risks exacerbating an already hostile environment for the trans community by legitimising transphobic practices, and sending a wider message to the public that this behaviour is acceptable.
Trans and non-binary people, like everyone else, need to be welcomed into spaces that make them feel respected and affirmed. We simply want to exist in society as everyone else does; able to shop, change and live with the dignity and respect that we deserve.
This guidance falls short of providing any meaningful support and protection to our community, and we ask the EHRC to do much better.