City of London bid to end Kenwood Ladies’ Pond controversy with new ‘fully inclusive’ gender identity consultation

The Kenwood Ladies Pond Association New Year's Day swim. Picture: Polly Hancock

The Kenwood Ladies Pond Association New Year's Day swim. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The City of London Corporation has waded into the row over trans women’s rights at Kenwood Ladies’ Pond to help stop other swimmers discriminating against them.

It will launch a consultation to enshrine trans rights, which are already protected by the Equalities Act, in official policy that will cover all of its operations – including the management of the Ladies’ Pond on Hampstead Heath.

This follows months of controversy over who should be able to use the bathing area following a protest from some anti-trans swimmers in January.

The corporation has confirmed the consultation would “ensure services [it provides] do not discriminate against trans people”.

A spokesman would not say whether other swimmers would be censured for discriminatory behaviour or hate speech, though this is understood to be on the table.

The move is poignant, coming just days after a separate group of anti-trans protesters forced their way to the front of Saturday’s London Pride march. Organisers there were forced to apologise for not removing them.

In January. the City of London confirmed trans women are able to use the Ladies’ Pond under the 2010 Equalities Act, only to be met with a backlash from campaigners.

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At the start of the year, the Daily Mail published a piece quoting regular pond users who were against trans women using the women’s pond.

Then in May, female protesters broke into the men’s bathing pond on the Heath in a demonstration against the rights of trans women to bathe with them.

At the time, both the City of London and the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association said they were on the side of trans women.

This week, Edward Lord, the corporation’s equalities chief, said; “Over recent years, the City Corporation’s practice on gender identity has gained public and media interest, in relation to both [gender-neutral toilets at] the Barbican Centre and the bathing ponds on Hampstead Heath.

“An over-arching policy for the City Corporation would support a consistent and coherent approach across all our service areas.”

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