Brighton and Hove Council have denied they plan to ban the use of Mr and Mrs on official forms after it found itself at the centre of a national media frenzy.
Reports in The Mirror and Daily Mail accused the coastal city in south-east England of ‘political correctness gone mad’ for its ‘barmy’ proposals.
But in the Green Party led council’s official response, they insist that no proposals have yet been put together.
The story appears to have been taken from the findings of a survey published in August which was conducted in an effort to identify and respond to issues of concern affecting particular communities and highlighting real problems for trans folk in housing, work and school, as well as violence and hate crime on the streets.
Earlier this year they invited members of the local transgender community to take part in a scrutiny panel designed to look at issues that affected their quality of life.
The results of the scrutiny process showed that many trans people feel there is a lack of support and monitoring for those taking hormones, that they were being discriminated against and allocation policies were forcing trans individuals to move to ‘bad’ areas that are unsafe for them.
The survey also reported that participants felt it was seen as ‘culturally acceptable to harass trans people’, there was a ‘lack of faith/trust for some within trans community in police handling of hate crime’ and this created ‘no go’ areas of the city where trans people don’t feel safe.
In amongst these wider issues it was also reported that those who identified as ‘non-binary’ – neither male nor female – also felt excluded by official forms which sometimes required individuals to tick a particular (gendered) title box: Mr, Mrs, Miss, etc.
Possible solutions to this issue range from removal of title altogether, to making title optional or free format.
In a statement to the local press, deputy leader of the council Phelim MacCafferty is reported as saying: ‘We should at least examine the issue and we will have the recommendations early next month.’
He also added: ‘Putting Mr and Mrs on a form is completely useless.’
However, the same report appears to suggest that the consultation process was rejected by Dawn Barnett, Conservative councillor for Hangleton and Knoll, who said: ‘It’s completely ludicrous and shows a complete lack of respect.’
A spokesman for the Conservative Party today clarified, stating that Ms Barnett was not talking about the consultation process, but about the proposal to abolish titles for old age pensioners.
According to the council, various draft ideas are under discussion, and a report will be put together at the end of the year.
They added: ‘International Transgender Day of Remembrance is being held on 25 November to remember all of the trans people that have been murdered as a result of Transphobia in the past year. It helps remind the city of Brighton and Hove how important this trans equality scrutiny is.’
Brighton was home to trans woman Andrea Waddell, murdered in 2009 in what is widely believed to have been a transphobic hate crime.