What happens when we talk about single-sex services and the law

On 24th March, Sex Matters Director Rebecca Bull presented at the A Woman’s Place is in Manchester event, on single-sex services and the law, in a session chaired by Sex Matters Director Dr Emma Hilton. She spoke alongside Cathy Devine, Judith Green and Maggy Moyo.

Here is Rebecca’s presentation, which is based on our report: Principles for clarity and respect

The meeting was met by 150 trans activists who marched to the venue carrying placards that read “Some women have penises” and “If you are transphobic – do one”. They gathered outside shouting threatening and derogatory slogans such as  “Fuck TERFs”, “TERFs get off our fucking turf” and “Woman’s Place is a place of hate”.  

Police did nothing to contain the protestors or facilitate their right to protest at a less threatening distance. The venue’s management were so concerned that they asked Woman’s Place UK to abandon the meeting. Nevertheless it went ahead and videos of the presentations will be online soon.  

Protestors told the Manchester Evening News: “We believe Woman’s Place UK is trying to make women-only spaces that exclude the existence of trans women… We feel that it’s important to stand up against that.”

Sex Matters argues that it is legal and should be simple to provide single-sex rules following clear rules. This means that rules which exclude male people from female spaces also exclude male people with trans identities.

It is crucial that the Equality and Human Rights Commission produces clear guidance on the law, and that the government supports the EHRC to update the statutory codes of practice for service providers and employers.