Brighton and Hove City Council, which last year came under fire for its alleged plan to abolish gender-specific titles such as ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’, has today published its final report on the subject.
The document, produced under the auspices of the Trans Scrutiny Panel, contains 37 key recommendations covering areas as diverse as policing, community support and healthcare.
It does not, as Gay Star News almost uniquely forecast at the time the story broke last year, recommend the abolition of existing gender-specific titles.
Rather, in a city believed to contain one of the UK’s highest proportions of trans and non-binary folk, it recommends a series of measures to improve their daily lives.
In particular it says electronic check-ins used by GPs (family doctors) should be changed to remove the need to identify as ‘male’ or ‘female’ on arrival at the surgery. Instead patients will be able to just use their surname and date of birth.
And patients will be provided with the option to use a non-gender specific honorific or to decline to provide one on National Health Service systems.
The council report wants to add the honorific Mx as an option for those claiming council benefits. And the panel recommends all on-line forms are examined to look at the possibility of additional options, leaving blank or entering the title the individual feels is appropriate to them.
Additionally, the report called for officials to urgently assess the size and needs of the city’s trans community.
Once this is done, the report says a city-wide trans equalities strategy should be developed by the council and its partners. This will include an action plan with clear leads and responsibilities led by a council ‘Trans Champion’.
Some people also expressed concern at the discrimination transgender residents face at work and in housing. And they want the local Sussex Police to further improve monitoring of trans hate crime.
A number of the recommendations in the report are aimed at increasing awareness of the lives and needs of trans people.
A council statement explained: ‘Basic principles such as the importance of using appropriate pronouns to refer to someone need to be explained: mistakes in gender-related speech can be very upsetting and can be easily avoided.
‘The need for trans awareness training runs through the findings of the inquiry.’
The report, which was produced by a cross-party panel chaired by Councilor Phelim MacCafferty as well as Councilors Denise Cobb, and Warren Morgan and two co-optees.
It will be made public at the city’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee Meeting on 28 January. The decision on whether to adopt the recommendations will be taken by the council’s Policy and Resources Committee later in the year.
Panel chair MacCafferty said: ‘I am incredibly proud to be part of this pioneering piece of work. It really is testament to the council’s dedication to providing services that deliver for the needs of all the city’s residents.
‘Through the recommendations of this report, I believe we will be setting out a blue print for organizations to follow and develop best practice for training and awareness on trans issues.’
And Nick Douglas, coordinator of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health and Inclusion Project, said: ‘We are delighted to see the publication of the panel’s findings.
‘The way in which the panel, the council communities and equalities team and the trans community came together to work on this is a model of good practice in progressing the equality agenda for local trans people.
‘We look forward to continuing our work with the council to ensure that this first step commitment to trans equality now comes to full fruition.’
The addition of the Mx honorific reflects similar demands on government, companies and organizations elsewhere in the UK.