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Trans women can use Hampstead Heath ladies' pond, City of London confirms as new gender identity policy is adopted

PUBLISHED: 15:08 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:42 24 May 2019

Kenwood Ladies Pond New Years Day swim 2019.
Pictured woolly hatted swimmers Christine and Shama. Picture: Polly Hancock

Kenwood Ladies Pond New Years Day swim 2019. Pictured woolly hatted swimmers Christine and Shama. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

The City of London Corporation (CoLC) has formally adopted a new gender identity policy that has implications for the Kenwood Ladies' Pond after a controversial consultation last year.

The right of transgender people to access services appropriate to the gender they identify as - such as the Ladies' Pond - has been enshrined in the new policy.

It means the CoLC's transgender staff cannot be subject to less favourable treatment at work; staff receive training on transgender inclusion; and, crucially, that trans people are able to access CoLC facilities and services relating to their gender identity.

The policy - which has been welcomed by the Kenwood Ladies' Pond Association (KLPA) - comes after a consultation on attitudes to gender identity received nearly 40,000 responses.

But 46 per cent - 18,459 - were disregarded as invalid on the basis that those respondents did not answer any questions other than to identify themselves and declare the reason for their interest in the survey.

The CoLC has emphasised that the only responses disregarded in this manner were those which did not answer any of the questions relating to gender identity.

A spokesperson told this newspaper: "We took all opinions into account and no one was excluded on the basis of the views they expressed."

Of the valid responses, 67pc supported the idea that gender-restricted facilities should relate to the gender with which the service user "consistently identifies [as] now".

And 65pc also said individuals should not be required to prove their gender identity to access single-sex services.

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But the policy was opposed by a number of people who feared it could cause safeguarding issues. One response quoted in the report said: "This is opening up opportunities and safe spaces for women to any man who claims to self-ID as a woman.

"Statistics show that women are at risk of male violence. This includes genuine trans women." Others cited religious discrimination as a reason to oppose the move, which the CoLC emphasised only formalised existing policy towards self-identification.

Comments in favour of the new policy included that: "Not [...] enabling access [...] would be unsafe for the person in question."

In May 2018, female activists demonstrated against the rights of trans women to use the women's pond by gatecrashing the men's pond.

A KLPA spokesperson said: "We welcome the CoLC's gender identity policy which reflects the requirements of the Equalities Act.

"The Ladies' Pond is a single sex space and the KLPA is committed to helping to create there an inclusive environment for all women, including transgender women, which is free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation."

They added: "As we reflect on how we can provide a trans-friendly swimming environment, it is important to state that Kenwood Ladies' Pond Association welcomes to its membership transgender women."

Edward Lord, who chairs CoLC's Establishment Committee, said: "This policy will ensure our public services do not discriminate against trans people.

"We support a wide range of service users and we want to ensure they can all feel comfortable accessing and enjoying our facilities.

"All communities should be fully respected, and equality and basic human rights upheld."

What do you think? Email letters@hamhigh.co.uk

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