Labour councillor quits in row over facilities for trans people
- Credit: Archant
Fears trans people could pose a “risk” to women and girls using the same public toilets have been dismissed, with some saying trans women experience the worst discrimination of all.
Ann Sinnott, who used to represent Petersfield at Cambridge City Council, stood down from Cambridge City Council on Monday (July 30) over a council policy which allowed council-run single-sex facilities, including toilets and changing rooms, to be used by transgender people.
Ms Sinnott stresses her stance is not “anti-trans”, and says she is “pro women” and women’s safety instead.
“Women have the right to be protected and when you open up female only spaces, you open them up to risk,” said Ms Sinnott.
“If you are a female in public loos at night and there is a person who is clearly male, how does she know they are not a threat?”
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Daragh McDermott, chairman of the board of trustees of the Kite Trust, a charity supporting LGBT+ people in Cambridgeshire, said it was important all people, however they identified, were protected.
Dr McDermott said he understood a number of Ms Sinnott’s objections to be “procedural” issues with how the measures were brought in.
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However, he said more is needed to be done to help trans people, who were often the victims of some of the worst discrimination.
“The safety issues are not an uncommon objection,” said Dr McDermott. “But trans women face some of the highest levels of discrimination.
“If a trans woman entered a male bathroom, they would face an extreme level of violence and abuse. I recognise the potential concerns, but the fact is I have yet to see a single episode of a self-identified trans woman engaging in violence against another woman.”
Dr McDermott said he did not have any answers for how to improve the situation, but pointed out there was a definite need to work towards a society which made things less dangerous for everyone.
“I think there needs to be an open and honest and frank conversation,” said Dr McDermott.
“But we should frame it as ‘how do we provide a safe environment for cis, trans, and other identifying individuals?’.
“If that includes coming up with gender neutral spaces, then that is a conversation we should be engaging with. It is one that politicians should listen to. We should be looking to protect everyone.”