Steph's Place

The EHRC’s Misleading Response to the Vice News Expose on ‘Single Sex Spaces’ Guidance

Analysis

 

Following the expose by Ben Hunte at Vice News on how the Equality and Human Rights Commission were trying to remove the rights of trans people to access gender-appropriate spaces, the EHRC published a statement and response thread on Twitter.

The response could be charitably described as a complete mess. More accurately it could be described as a desperate attempt at damage limitation to try and salvage a shred of credibility from their now tattered reputation.

 Did it work?

Well, no.

 The EHRC is currently stuck between a rock and a very hard place because they have been thoroughly exposed as working against the UK's transgender population.

They now appear to be digging themselves deeper into a hole they have no hope of getting out of, short of the entire leadership resigning and the organisation moving back to its intended function under a functional, unbiased management.

 However, it did clarify a very important point, and one that trans people have been trying to patiently explain to trans hostile activists since the whole GRA debacle started.

The EHRC acknowledge that trans people's legal protection from discrimination under the Equality Act is not dependent on the possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate.

 Let's take a more detailed look, using the twitter thread which is exactly the same as the statement but easier to break down.

 

The EHRC Response

Statement 1

‘ We are aware of online misinformation about guidance on single-sex spaces. 

 Read our full response https://equalityhumanrights.com/en/our-work/news/response-misinformation-about-single-sex-spaces-guidance…

(1/5)’

 

 

There are a couple of interesting things to note here. 

  • Firstly, it's not a direct response to the Vice article, but rather appears to be an attempt to downplay the severity of the revelations by passing them off as ‘online misinformation’. In not addressing the revelations in Vice directly it actually reinforces that the original story is indeed accurate, something we here at Steph’s Place know to be true.

  • Secondly, it uses the trans hostile dog whistle ‘single-sex spaces’, further indicating a culture of trans hostile sentiment at the EHRC.

 

Statement 2

‘ We aim to publish guidance on single-sex spaces in due course, in line with our mandate to advise on equality and human rights laws, and in response to longstanding calls from a range of stakeholders and service providers. 

(2/5) ‘

 

 

On the face of it, this looks pretty innocuous, trying to reinforce that they’re actually doing their jobs at the EHRC. If only that were true. 

  • Once again we have the use of the trans hostile dog-whistle term ‘single-sex spaces’.

  • We also have confirmation that they are indeed publishing new guidance, reinforcing the fact that the original Vice story was again correct. We need to remember that the Vice story made no claims that it was looking at published guidance, but a draft of proposed guidance from December 2021, barely 2 months ago. Remember this point, because we’re going to come back to it.

  • Then we have the classic deflection of ‘range of stakeholders and service providers. Given the recent revelations, we can be reasonably sure that this refers to the trans hostile lobby groups that they appear to have been colluding with, but we’re going to be putting in a Freedom of Information Act Request to verify exactly who.

 

Statement 3

‘Any guidance we produce will explain how to comply with the legal provisions approved by Parliament in the Equality Act.

(3/5)’

 

 

Very odd wording choice here. 

  • Statement 2 states that they are publishing guidance, but Statement 3 brings this into doubt by adding a layer of ambiguity by stating ‘any guidance we produce’. Are they or aren't they producing guidance?

  • The second half is really disingenuous. The existing code of practice already does this, so why is additional guidance necessary unless it's attempting to alter how trans people can access gender-appropriate spaces - something we have done for more than 50 years legally with no issues?

     

     

     

  • This could potentially still be an open door to an attempted blanket ban, by leaving the guidance open to interpretation rather than clarifying exactly circumstances where exemptions might apply on an individual basis.
  • Note - Trans Legal Project also have a slightly different analysis here. In their analysis they indicate that the EHRC could reinterpret guidance to enact a blanket ban on trans people, and state that any organisation failing to do so could be subjected to claims of indirect discrimination based on sex.
  • This means we have several potential scenarios where the EHRC could still impose a de facto ban on trans people accessing gender-appropriate spaces, and this may be with the intent to try and force legal action to settle the matter once and for all - a massive abuse of power of the EHRC if so.

     

     

     

     

  • And we have the first bit of truth so far from the EHRC - yes, guidance will have to explain how to comply with EA2010. Trouble is, the leaked draft guidance reportedly doesn’t do that in any way, shape or form. It attempted to redefine access requirements by hinging it on the possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate, something that is
    • Not an identity document

    • Not required by EA2010 to access gender-appropriate spaces

    • Next to impossible to get

       

Statement 4

‘ It is completely false to suggest that we are looking to bar trans people from accessing spaces without a Gender Recognition Certificate. We are not aware of any document produced by the EHRC that would support this.

(4/5) ‘

 

 

This is worth picking apart for a few reasons. 

  • Firstly, we have outright denial of their attempts to do this which have been exposed by Vice News.

     

     

  • Secondly,  if they are not trying to bar trans people from gender-appropriate spaces - why does the guidance need updating? This brings us back to Statement 2, as it directly contradicts what they have said there. 
  • Thirdly, given the Vice appears to have the draft document itself - the second part of this statement would appear to be completely false. 

 Statement 5

‘The Equality Act provisions on gender reassignment are not predicated on possession, or not, of a Gender Recognition Certificate.

(5/5) ‘

 

 

Finally, someone with a bit of sense and legal training appears to have contributed to this response.

This is the only thing in the statement that is accurate, and as we said at the start of this article, something trans people in the UK have been stating for the last 6 years.

 So that’s it right?

 Well, also no.

 Because this entire response is also directly contradictory to the letter from the EHRC to the Scottish Government attempting to interfere in GRA reform  few weeks ago. 

In that letter, the Chair of the EHRC Baroness Falkner quite clearly states the opposite, indicating that whether you have a GRC or not has ‘potential consequences’

 

 

 

So which is it?

The legal position appears to be completely at odds with Falkner’s position, further reinforcing that the leadership of the EHRC appears to be thoroughly hostile to the UK’s transgender population.

It also appears to show that Falkner is using her position to force a personal bias in direct contradiction to the established legal position, and the expectation that the yet to be published guidance will reflect that bias.

 Which begs the question - Who is the EHRC working for?

The minorities it is supposed to protect, or the personal beliefs of the current chair and the host of trans hostile lobby groups she appears to be working in collusion with?

 And if that wasn’t enough, we arrive at what may be the actual intended objective of this whole charade. 

A backdoor way to make legal recognition impossible for trans people in the UK.

 The EHRC’s Trans Catch 22

Based on the leaked draft guidance being accurate in requiring a GRC, and more broadly based on the premise that the EHRC is trying to restrict access to gender-appropriate spaces in some way - which appears to be the case from both the leak and the statements above - we end up with the following scenario.

 

  1. In order to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate, it is a legal requirement to ‘live as your acquired gender’ for a minimum of 2 years, and you must provide a substantial body of evidence of doing this.

  2. In order to ‘live as your acquired gender’ you must access gender-appropriate spaces.

  3. If access to spaces requires a GRC as per the leaked draft guidance, or if access is limited in some way - you cannot ‘live as your acquired gender’, and cannot acquire the evidence needed to obtain a GRC.

  4. If you cannot gather the evidence for a GRC, you can't be legally recognised as you’re back to 1)

 It’s complete nonsense, but one with serious potential consequences.

  • Either this is being done by intent, meaning trans people would have legal recognition on paper and this appears to comply with human rights legislation, but no way of actually achieving it. And if so, we must remember that this would have originated with Liz Truss, Minister for Inequality.
  • Or it's unintended, with the same outcome as above but the additional realisation that the entire EHRC leadership are utterly incompetent and should not be in the positions they are.

 It may be nonsense, but it's nonsense we have come to expect from trans hostile activists who will do anything to remove trans people from UK society.

And they’re destroying the UK’s human rights protections to do enact it.

 


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