Self-ID in the UK

Julian Norman has written an excellent article outlining how the proposed reforms of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) will affect single sex exemptions provided under the Equality Act 2010 (EA).

Some organisations however are so keen to be ahead of the proposed reforms that they are already either practising self-ID, or do not enforce the single sex exemptions that women are already entitled to.

  1. City of London Corporation

The Corporation is responsible for the Bathing Ponds at Hampstead Heath.  There are three ponds – Men, Ladies’ and Mixed.  Despite this, the Corporation allows people of either sex to use the pond that matches their self-identified gender

  1. Hostelling Scotland

This is a charity that provides affordable accommodation throughout Scotland, and “will book an accommodation based on how our guests choose to be recognised”.

  1. Youth Hostel Association (YHA)

YHA policy states that “Transgender guests are welcome to use the accommodation and facilities which match their gender identity” and “… depending on their process of transition, a customer may be using a different name to the one on their ID. If your preferred name does not match the name on your ID we invite you to contact the Youth Hostel and discuss this in advance of your stay”; however ManFriday activists very easily gained access to men’s accommodation in various hostels based on self-ID.

Additionally, YHA admitted in email correspondence with a ManFriday supporter that they did not conduct an official Equality Impact Assessment on updating their Transgender policy but did consider “the needs of different user groups and consider the resulting changes to reflect best practice guidance published by numerous government and independent bodies”.

  1. DVLA

The DVLA allows anyone to change the sex on their driver’s licence without needing to provide any supporting documentation.  One ManFriday activist has now done this twice: once to change the sex from female to male, and again to change the sex back from male to female. 

  1. Girlguiding

Girlguiding states that “young trans members should be able to share accommodation with other young members if they wish” and “It is not a requirement – or best practice – to tell parents that a trans person will be attending a residential event.”

  1. Caledonian Sleeper

Response from Serco, who run the service: “Guests travel with the Caledonian Sleeper in shared accommodation for men-only or women-only; the service is provided on the basis of the gender that the individual self-identifies with.”

  1. M&S

The following was received from an email exchange dated 27th March: “Our customers are free to choose the Fitting Room they identify with and feel comfortable in, with respect to other customers’ privacy. This is because all of our fitting room cubicles have mirrors inside and lockable doors to ensure full customer privacy.”

ManFriday activism on 20th June found that we were able to use the men’s changing room simply by declaring that we were men.

  1. Next, Gap, New Look, Primark & TopMan

As with M&S above, ManFriday activism on 23rd March and 20th June found the men’s changing room accessible to us on the basis of self-ID.

  1. Pure Gym

The following was received from an email exchange dated 4th April: “You can use the changing facility that you feel most comfortable using. If you wish to use the male changing room then you are more than welcome to do so. With the way our PIN system works, anyone registered male is granted automatic access to male changing facilities whereas anyone registered as a female is granted automatic access to female changing facilities.”

No checks are done on signing up, as far as we are aware.

  1. Ascot Royal Enclosure

The following was received from an email exchange dated 27th March: “Having spoken to my colleagues I am now able to advise that we ask that all visitors comply with either the male or the female dress code. You are more than welcome to use the toilet that you are most comfortable in.”

  1. Swim England

The original guidance for pool operators on “engaging trans people in swimming” contained this: “You may need to do some education work with other centre users who may be concerned when sharing a space with a trans person, especially if a trans customer looks to have different physical characteristics to the gender they are identifying with i.e. a male to female trans customer who has not had top or bottom surgery may still look like a male to others, and conversely with female to male trans customers.”

It further stated that “Some swimmers may have a preference to wear less clothing than usually expected. For example, some swimmers may not want to wear anything on their top half, so as to identify with their new gender, but if they have not had top surgery this means that this person’s breasts will be clearly visible. This needs to be talked about and an amicable solution found. This may be appropriate to allow during a trans specific session, but if a trans swimmer is attending any other session in the timetable, then they should be appropriately covered up – you wouldn’t allow a woman to swim topless in a public session, and you need to treat everyone the same.”

Swim England have since withdrawn the guidance, stating that the document “is currently under review”.