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sex matters

Campaign for the right to choose single sex

Take A Stand!

The Women and Equalities Committee’s current proposal to enable people to legally register themselves as the opposite sex very simply, in the near future, will be wide-open to criminal abuse.

Concerningly, as part of this measure, there are discussions of removing the sex exemptions from the Equality Act which would undo women's hard-won legal rights. Even if the exemptions remain, allowing people change their sex on their birth certificate as easily as changing a name, means in practice there will be no documentation to prove that someone is using the the wrong sex's provision.

This will mean an end to the legal right to single sex and give us no right to challenge people of the opposite sex in spaces or using provisions nominally designated for our own.

We are calling on politicians to drop this proposal and to strengthen, clarify and protect the sex exemptions in the Equality Act to protect our right to choose single sex.


Sign and share this government petition demanding the government consults with women before changing the definitions of female and male in law.

Meet with your MP. Write to them. Ask them to forward
your questions and concerns to the relevent government
ministers.  Personalise our template letter for inspiration
to get started. Find your MP below.

At 5m11s 'Posie Parker' shares some great  suggestions
about what you can do. (disclaimer: not all supporters
of Sex Matters share all of PP's opinions).


Single-sex hospital wards, prisons, changing rooms, gyms, baths, personal care assistance, conveniences, school trips and shared overnight accommodation are already being eroded. 

Single-sex retreats from the opposite sex such as Rape Crisis Centres and women's refuges as well as informal places such as women's conveniences are under already disappearing or under threat

Single-sex spaces for sanctuary, privacy and recovery where we can be confident we will be free from potential harassment, voyeurism, intrusion, domination or embarrassment by the opposite sex are disappearing.

Single-sex spaces which allow for open discussion of personal issues, private engagement in intimate activities, informal same-sex support for victims of sex-based violence or oppression and enable those of us in fear of the opposite sex, or with cultural restrictions, greater social participation, are changing their policies to become unisex.

Single-sex sports teams, leagues, competitions and games which allow women fair and safe participation and prizewinning opportunities are now including the opposite sex at the expense of women and girls.

Opportunities for single-sex learning, education and development where some children and adults thrive such as single-sex schools, Girl Guides and women and girls in STEM subjects are being compromised by including the opposite sex. 

Sex categories for monitoring and addressing sex differences relevant to education, employment, salaries, health planning, specific patterns of offending and victimisation and all-women shortlists are becoming innacurate and misleading.

We are calling for businesses and providers to invoke the Equality Act sex exemptions and give us the choice of single-sex provision and to stop the march towards universal unisex inclusion.

Use the government's response to the petition to challenge and reassure providers who wrongly believe they have no right to invoke the sex exemptions in the Equality Act.

The petition to 'consult with women on proposals to enshrine 'gender identity' in law', calls for a proper consultation on proposed changes to the legal definitions of male and female.

If the proposals go ahead, the government's new legal definitions for female and male would no longer describe the biological facts of sex and material reality, but an individual's subjective feeling of 'self-identity'.

Such legal and linguistic changes would render all sex based rights and protections in the Equality Act meaningless and unworkable.

Meanwhile uncertainty caused by these government plans means providers have been hesitant to invoke the 'sex exemptions' in anticipation of this becoming unlawful in the near future.

When the petition reached 10,000 signatures, the government had a duty to respond.

"The Government has not yet decided whether or not to introduce a self-declaration model, and will not change the Equality Act 2010 provisions which support organisations to run single sex services." 

"Providers of women-only services can continue to provide services in a different way, or even not provide services to trans individuals, provided it is objectively justified on a case-by-case basis. The same can be said about toilets, changing rooms or single sex activities. Providers may exclude trans people from facilities of the sex they identify with, provided it is a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim."

Next steps

Importantly, in this response, the Government has set out, in no uncertain terms, that providers are not now, nor in the future, unlawfully discriminating against people when they refuse to let them access the opposite sex's legitimate single sex provision.

Boundaries, privacy, safety, health, comfort, sanctuary, dignity, fairness, equality, freedom and fellowship are all legitimate aims where single sex is proportional.

Please contact the organisations which do not offer appropriate single sex provision, such as those listed below.
Please tell them which of these legitimate aims they can proportionately meet by offering single sex, and why it is necessary for them or they have a duty to do so.
Please quote from and link to this government response to support your case.

Here is a table of companies who are not invoking the Equality Act sex exemptions and are instead mixing the sexes without considering how this takes away our right to define our own boundaries for our own safety, privacy dignity and taking away our choice and provision for single sex. Please email or tweet @SexMattersUK on Twitter to let us know about others.

CompanyTwitterService or Facility Now Mixed SexCampaign NameStatus
Girlguiding@girlguidingSleeping, washing, toilets, entire scheme.#sisterstoallguidesAwaiting New CEO
Caledonian Sleeper@calsleeperSleeping, washing.#ManFridayUnder review.
YHA@YHAOfficialSleeping, washing.-No change
Swim England@Swim_EnglandChanging, toilets, single-sex sessions.#ManFridayUnder review
Labour Party@UKLabourWomen's officers
All-women shortlists
Jo Cox Scheme
#labourlosingwomenNo change
Top Shop@TopshopFitting rooms#ManFridayNo change
Urban Outfitters@uoeuropeFitting rooms#ManFridayNo change
M&S@marksandspencerFitting rooms, fitting services.#ManFridayNo change
Primark@primarkFitting rooms#ManFridayNo change
Next@nextofficialToilets.#ManFridayNo change
City of London Corporation@cityoflondonHampstead Ladies Pond#ManFridayNo change
Cambridge City Council@camcitcoEquality & Diversity policy, women's refuges-Under Review

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A group of over 500 people (and growing) who came together on Mumsnet, although not all of us are parents, sharing the same concern that our rights and choices are being eroded as part of a cultural shift towards denying human biology on the part of decision-makers, businesses, services and the media.

We have views spanning the political spectrum. We come from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. We include academics, scientists, doctors, social workers, teachers, lawyers, shop workers and stay at home parents. We are women and men including those who identify as trans.

We believe that sex matters.

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