GE2024: Stand up for single-sex services

A summer election has been called.

Sex Matters calls for clarity in law and a return to policies based on the objective reality of sex, not the subjective feeling of “gender identity”. Parties must be absolutely clear when it comes to sex-based rights. 

Every party must STAND UP FOR SINGLE-SEX SERVICES, and be clear what sex means, so that when they say “women”, voters can be sure they are referring to actual women, not to men who identify as women.

A poll commissioned by Sex Matters last year showed that a clear majority of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat voters alike are firmly in favour of single-sex spaces and services. There is no justification for pandering to gender ideologues.

Our election asks

  1. Ensure clear language, rules and data wherever sex matters
  2. Implement the Cass Report and stop transitioning children in schools
  3. Drop dangerous plans to criminalise so-called “conversion therapy”
  4. Make the Equality Act clear
  5. Guarantee women’s right to female-only spaces 
  6. Say no to legal gender self-ID
  7. Record sex accurately in healthcare and the criminal justice system
  8. Fix the sex data muddle with modern data systems
  9. Protect women’s sports 
  10. Make regulators do their job and protect everyone’s rights.

When it comes to policymaking on sex and gender issues, the key areas for the next government will be education and health. In these departments, and right across government, the solutions will be sex-based language, clear rules and data collected on the objective reality of sex, not subjective “gender identity”. 

Sex Matters calls on all parties to commit to implementing the Cass Report. This means an end to children being prescribed puberty blockers or socially transitioned in schools. This should be supported with clear guidance about sex-based rules for schools from the Department for Education. Every education professional should understand that no child can be treated in school as a member of the opposite sex. Sex-based rules are there to protect and support all pupils, and children cannot be kept safe unless there is clarity about the sex of everyone around them.

Plans to ban so-called “conversion therapy” (in reality, evidence-based talking therapy) should be dropped. Any such law is bound to criminalise loving parents and ethical therapists, and to cause a chilling effect that will make it harder for gender-distressed people to get the support they need. 

Any party that is serious about being in government must commit to making the definition of sex in the Equality Act clear. The current lack of clarity means service providers, from pubs and gyms to rape-crisis centres, are failing to understand the law, opening women-only spaces to men who identify as women and buckling under fear of litigation. The result is that women’s privacy, safety and dignity have been undermined.

Parties must commit to giving women the right to female-only spaces in both everyday and specialist situations. This includes all public and private-sector facilities that have toilets and changing rooms, as well as hospital accommodation. It also includes specialist women’s sector facilities such as domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centres and prisons, as well as female-only sports.

There should be no move towards gender-self ID, whether openly or by stealth. The current lack of clarity on the meaning of “sex” in the Equality Act means any measure that makes it easier to gain a gender-recognition certificate would be disastrous for the rights of women and girls. 

The removal of sex-based terms in healthcare and the justice system must end. Sex is always relevant in healthcare, and patients need to know that their records are accurate and that when they are asked about their sex or request a carer of the same sex, everyone is talking about biology, not identity. Sex also matters whenever a crime is committed. Misrecording male offenders as female makes it impossible to study patterns of criminality. When prison and police officers search suspects and prisoners, it’s the sex of both parties that matters, not their gender identity. Imprisoning trans-identifying men in women’s prisons is a breach of female inmates’ human rights.

It is crucial to fix the muddle that has been made of official data. The next government will inherit systems of recording sex that are a tangled, dangerous mess. It should use the opportunity offered by modern digital data systems to develop a simple, clear protocol for accurately recording everyone’s sex. Everyone’s rights can then be protected by sharing that information when it is needed, and keeping it private when it is not. 

Fairness, safety and opportunity in sport should be protected for women and girls at all levels by restricting eligibility for the female category to those born female, excluding all males however they identify. 

Finally, the next government must press regulators and regulatory agencies to do their jobs and protect everyone’s rights. The Charity Commission must be instructed to ensure that single-sex charities do not undermine their own mission by adopting self-ID. The Office for National Statistics cannot be allowed to make another error on the same scale as in the 2021 census, which featured a widely misunderstood question about gender identity written to please transactivists. The Equality and Human Rights Commission must do more to stand up for single-sex services and against the bullying and harassment of workers who care about sex-based rights.