Freemasons, a secretive fraternity that has long been men-only, will now allow trans people to join.
Edward Lord, who chairs the City of London’s establishment committee, recently came out as non-binary.
They put forward the new guidance for the United Grand Lodge of England to allow trans men and women to join the ‘brotherhood’.
Formal names will not change for trans women, being called ‘Brother [Female Name]’.
Trans women can wear a ‘smart dark skirt and top’ as part of the new policy.
This is unusual as a female version of the Freemasons exist. The Order of Women Freemasons began in 1902.
New policy will allow trans women to join Freemasons in UK
The guidance says ‘a Freemason who after initiation ceases to be a man does not cease to be a Freemason’.
Issued to the Freemasons on 17 July, it also said trans men are men and may become members.
Trans women, however, ‘must have undergone reassignment surgery’.
The new policy asks brethren to treat anyone going through their transition with the ‘utmost compassion’ and support.
It reads: ‘It is important that any situation involving gender reassignment of a Freemason is treated with the utmost compassion and sensitivity and that the individual is supported throughout the process.
‘No candidate should be subjected to questions about their gender which could make them feel uncomfortable.’
Non-binary leader says he hopes to ‘influence change’ from within
Lord, who put forward the proposals, has responded to criticism.
‘I take the view that I can best influence change from within,’ they said.
‘My preference would be that membership of Freemasonry wouldn’t be restricted on gender/sex, but we will never get to that point unless some people inside the organisation say “hey this doesn’t make sense, why don’t we change”.’
Janice Turner, a columnist for The Times, joined the many feminists angry at the club excluding women.
‘A privileged straight man in a suit, Freemason regalia, tie and beard IDs as non-binary to escape accusations of male privilege,’ she said about Lord.
She added: ‘I have the greatest respect and empathy for trans people. Many have written to me and are equally horrified by extreme activists pushing self-identification and demanding women give up their privacy and safety.’