21 JANUARY 2016

Following the release of our report, Sex Equality 2016, last week, we had a few questions on our position on gender and trans inclusion. We hope the following statement will answer some of your questions.

“We recognise and understand the difference between sex and gender. We remain of the view that gender is a social construct from which women and men experience discrimination, and that it often emerges from the oppression of  the female biological sex class. Due to this, we campaign against stereotypes and gender norms which are harmful and constrain choices for both women and men.

However, the fact is that some people define themselves in terms of their gender identity and in our survey we were interested to find out what the public thinks about this.

Respondents were asked which statement best describes their view – either, “There are two genders, male or female”, or “Gender can be a range of identities”. We realise that “male” and “female” refer to sex rather than gender, but we felt when asking ordinary members of the public this was the easiest way to gauge public attitudes to gender identity in a single question.

Regarding women-only services – Fawcett supports the legal position set out in the Equality Act (2010) which establishes gender reassignment as a protected characteristic. The act also creates an exception for women only services, for example allowing them to refuse a male to female trans person access to a session for women who are victims of sexual assault, if that can be objectively justified and proportionate. It is about balancing rights and recognising the needs of every service user.

Our focus is on the lived experience of women. We want to make women’s lives better and will continue to campaign for a more equal society free from gender discrimination. That focus remains.

At Fawcett we also see ourselves as part of a wider and diverse community of feminist, equality and human rights organisations.  We therefore recognise the lived experiences of trans and intersex people, see feminism as inclusive, and therefore will work towards equality for women in a way in which is consistent with this”.