Labour MP says Tory government ‘vilifying trans people’ after draft policy leak

Labour MP Kate Osborne pictured in her official parliamentary portrait.

Draft policy that would stop trans civil servants using the toilets that match their gender identity has been condemned as dangerous and “completely unworkable” by Labour MP Kate Osborne.

Leaked documents published by Vice News show that the Cabinet Office and the Government People Group is considering plans which would only allow trans civil servants with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) to use the appropriate single-sex toilets when at work.

It would also direct staff to ensure that “gender critical” beliefs are recognised in the workplace, following a 2021 ruling that such beliefs are protected by the Equality Act.

The government has insisted that the plans are a draft, and not policy. Regardless, trans civil servants have described being left feeling “degraded” and “horrified”.

Osborne, the MP for Jarrow, in Tyne and Wear, told PinkNews that the plans are the latest bid to “incite hatred and vilify the trans community” by the Tory government.

“Their inflammatory rhetoric is bad enough but this leaked guidance will place trans and non-binary civil servants at risk and force them to accept transphobic views,” Osborne said.

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“Trade unions have been fighting discrimination against trans people in the workplace for years, agreeing policies that protect all. This guidance rides roughshod over that and is a huge step backwards.”

Draft civil service policy would force most trans staff into the wrong toilets. (Getty)

Osborne continued: “This guidance is completely unworkable, people cannot and will not follow it, leaving the civil service facing a huge amount of employment and legal cases.

“Trans people should not be put in a position where their colleagues can debate their very existence without being penalised – and this policy, if implemented, would do just that. 

“Ministers know the impact their language and guidance has on society. This guidance is just another deliberate attempt to incite hatred and vilify the trans community as part of the government’s war on woke.”

Osborne, who has been an MP since 2019, went on to accuse the Tories of throwing trans people “under the bus” as a distraction ahead of the next general election.

“The prime minister and this government have an obligation to do better, they have a responsibility to lead by example not stoke the flames of hatred in our society,” she said. 

Trans civil service guidance is ‘dangerous propaganda’

The 39-page draft document has been widely condemned by trans and LGBTQ+ people working in the civil service. 

A set of sigjns indicating a gender-neutral bathroom facility.
A set of signs showing gender-neutral bathrooms. (Getty)

One trans civil servant told PinkNews that he feared the policy, if implemented, would result in him being outed to his colleagues because he would be forced to use the wrong toilets.

“I’m just somebody trying to work a job, just keep my head down,” he said. “This guidance, potentially, just on the geography of a building, could out me.” 

Meanwhile, Trans Activism UK told PinkNews that the draft guidelines would “not only [be] illegal in their proposed practices” but also “reek of internal biases being translated into dangerous propaganda that has no place in the civil service”.

This isn’t the first time moves have been made to stop trans people using toilets that match their gender identity. There was a widespread backlash last year when leaked draft guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – advice that was ultimately never published – recommended similar measures for businesses and other organisations. 

At the time, legal experts told PinkNews that such policies would breach the terms of the 2010 Equality Act and would almost certainly be illegal. Jolyon Maugham, a barrister and the director of the Good Law Project, told PinkNews that he had “no doubt” such guidance would be struck down in the courts. 

Rishi Sunak walking out the door of Number 10.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak mocked trans women in front of members of the 1922 Committee . (Getty)

A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office sought to downplay the leaked document, telling PinkNews: “This is a draft document and not Civil Service HR policy.” 

It’s understood that the policy has not yet been seen or approved by ministers. However, for many trans people, the mere existence of the document represents just the latest incident in a long string of government attacks on their community. 

The leak comes just weeks after PinkNews exclusively shared leaked video footage of prime minister Rishi Sunak mocking trans women at a party for the influential 1922 Committee. 

In the recording, Sunak could be heard joking about “women having penises” and mocking Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey for supporting trans rights. 

The video came just months after Westminster took the unprecedented decision to block Scotland’s gender recognition reforms. The move was condemned by Scottish politicians as an attack on devolution.