A FORMER legal director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has slammed plans to change the Equality Act as "pure transphobia".

On Wednesday, it was revealed that the UK Government is considering changing the legal definition of “sex” in the legislation, passed under former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, and coming into effect in 2010.

The EHRC, a government body set up following the introduction of the Equality Act, said such a change could bring “greater legal clarity” in the provision of single-sex spaces, in eight areas including hospital wards and sport.

However, LGBT campaign groups and activists have shared concerns over the move, with Stonewall warning it risks “opening yet another chapter in a manufactured culture war”.

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The Equality Act aims to protect citizens from unlawful treatment resulting from discrimination due to a person’s characteristics - such as age, race, gender reassignment, religion or sex, amongst others.

If the UK Government changes the definition of “sex” then there would be no need for organisations or clubs to prove they have a “legitimate aim” when excluding transgender people. 

Grey Collier, a lawyer who worked for the EHRC for over a decade before leaving in 2019, has slammed the proposed changes as “nonsense on stilts”.

In a lengthy thread on the proposals on Twitter, Collier, who describes themselves as a "queer trans human rights lawyer", said: “The suggestion is legally illiterate, unworkable and is just another way of using trans people’s actual lives as a pawn in the culture wars.

“It would overturn some of the purposes of the Gender Recognition Act and make it possible to discriminate against trans people in a whole range of circumstances where it is currently outlawed.

“It’s pure transphobia - based on misleading, unevidenced transphobic assumptions, e.g. the notion that a trans man is an appropriate employee where there is an occupational requirement for a woman to do a job is offensive both to the trans man and to the service users.”

Collier added that the suggestion LGB groups would benefit from the changes is “vile”, adding that there is only one group [LGB Alliance] who would benefit, and it is “entirely unrepresentative” of the vast majority of LGBT groups and charities.

The trustee of Mermaids, which supports trans youth, claimed that the move would be “appeasement of a hate group”.

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“The proposals do not address problems that arise in real life – only in the minds of some fanatics who have decided to dedicate their lives to destroying the lives of a tiny proportion of the population,” Collier added.

“The law currently defines the limited circumstances in which discrimination against a trans person is permitted, in appropriately narrow terms.

“There is no evidence at all that the law is not working.”

Collier said the plans were “unutterably cruel”. They added: “No trans person, however long since they transitioned, whatever their anatomy, would be assured of being treated as the correct gender.

“There are trans people in their 80s who have been accessing correctly gendered services for decades. Leave them be.”

Collier claimed that the changes are “unworkable”, and would “heavily and intrusively” impact cis women, who do not fit into “societal norms of femininity”.

They said: “It’s dangerous, even life-threatening. Due to the hostility whipped up by a few vocal anti-trans activists and most mainstream media outlets, many trans people already live in fear of being attacked just going about our daily lives.”

Collier pointed out that if brought in, the changes would exclude transgender people from aspects of normal daily life.

“This proposal, if enacted, would devastate our lives, and for no good reason,” they said.

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“If you are a trans ally, now is the time to speak up.

“Both main parties in Westminster think this is a vote winner. It isn’t. Tell them that.

“This continuous demonisation of trans people has to stop.”

If implemented, the changes to the Equality Act could result in a transfer of rights from trans women to trans men.

For example, trans men would be allowed to be considered in “women-only” shortlists for things such as literary prizes because of their assigned sex at birth.

Transgender people could also be barred from accessing public bathrooms that accord with their acquired gender, a situation which LGBT charities say could jeopardise the safety of trans people.

Following the announcement of the plans, Prime Minister Rishi Sunsak said considering biology is “important” in protecting women’s rights.