Hampstead Heath: Delayed gender consultation ‘needs to put people eat ease’ say LGBTQ campaigners

New ladies pond changing rooms at Hampstead Heath

New ladies pond changing rooms at Hampstead Heath - Credit: Archant

The corporation that manages Hampstead Heath has delayed making any decision based on the much-publicised trans rights consultation it ran over the summer – citing the need to have the 31,457 responses professionally analysed and to wait and see how the government’s Gender Recognition Act consultation pans out.

Camden LGBT forum is sanguine about the delays, and instead just relieved that the circus – and the transphobic abuse it has brought wiht it – may now die down.

Tessa Havers-Strong, the executive and governance officer of the Camden LGBT Forum, said: “I don’t think we’ll see as many things like the women protesting in the men’s pond now the consultations are over.

“There’s been unpleasantness and abuse throughout during these consultations – the City of London Corporation’s and the government’s.

“There’ve been extreme reactions on both sides, it must be said. But over the summer we’ve had five people take things to the police, after distressing abuse and deadnaming [using a trans person’s former name].

“The ideal outcome would be to if we can put people more at ease – it’s not about changing who can or can’t access women’s spaces. This won’t change that.”

In May, female activists demonstrated against self-identification of trans women using the ponds by gatecrashing the men’s pond.

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Tessa added: “I think the City made mistakes in how they phrased the consultation. It was made to seem [to be] about exclusion rather than inclusion, and this led to misunderstanding.

“Both consultations are about de-medicalising the process.”

A spokesperson for the CoLC said: “Given the government consultation and the large number of responses to the CoLC questionnaire, a report will be brought before the establishment committee following the government’s response to its consultation.”

The CoLC will commission professional research into the responses it gathered.

Its consultation was launched in order to enshrine trans rights, which are already protected by the Equalities Act, in official policy that will govern facilities like the Heath.