Draft civil service gender policy would ban most trans employees from bathrooms

A hooded individual with a trans flag wrapped around them walks in the rain.

Senior civil servants have been left “terrified” and “shaken” by leaked draft policies that would restrict trans staff’s access to single-sex spaces at work.

The proposed civil service policies, first reported on by Vice News on Wednesday (12 July), include “changes on access to toilets” which would mean only trans people with a Gender Recognition Certificate can use single-sex facilities matching their gender identity.

It’s estimated that one per cent of trans people in the UK have a GRC.

Produced by the Cabinet Office and the Government People Group, the 39-page document proposes changes to the civil service’s “gender identity and intersex policies”. It would cover the UK’s 500,000 civil servants, who are politically impartial and deliver public services that support the government across education, environment, transport and defence. 

The document also says that “gender-identity belief” and “gender-critical belief” should be recognised equally in the workplace.

“Employees can hold different opinions and beliefs in the workplace” on trans and non-binary lives “as long as they engage in reasoned and rational debate,” the document states.

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It goes on to say that gender-critical beliefs are protected under the 2010 Equality Act, and that holders “must be treated with respect and dignity and protected from bullying, harassment and discrimination”. 

In 2021, an employment tribunal ruled that gender critical beliefs are protected under the law, in a high-profile legal case brought by Maya Forstater.

PinkNews understands the draft has not been approved by government.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “This is a draft document and not Civil Service HR policy.”

‘This feels like it was written by someone gender critical’

A trans civil servant, who chose to remain anonymous, told Vice: “My existence is not a belief. How can my safety be just as important as someone’s belief that I shouldn’t be safe? This feels like it was written by someone gender critical, just to give transphobes more clout.”

The staff member said that the toilets policy, which is a switch from previous civil service guidance, left them “speechless”.

In 2022, legal experts told PinkNews that any attempt to restrict bathroom access by GRC status would be unlawful. It followed reports on unpublished draft guidance by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that would have advised businesses and other organisations to only allow trans people with a GRC to access single-sex spaces matching their gender identity.

Under current policy civil servants are allowed to use “any appropriate single-sex toilets and other facilities”.

Another civil servant, a middle-aged cisgender gay man, told Vice: “I’m shaken by all of this and I know trans civil servants are too.”

The Civil Service HR Organisational Policy Team last updated its “gender identity and intersex policies” in 2019. 

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