Row after cross-dressing men allowed to use female changing rooms in Scotland

A row has broken out over Glasgow City Council allowing cross-dressing men to use female changing rooms at sports facilities as a campaigner claims it misinterprets the Equality Act.

Local authority-run Glasgow Life, which manages sport and leisure facilities in the city, is trying to be more inclusive to people who identify as trans.

New guidance tells staff that men who ‘feel more comfortable expressing themselves in feminine clothing’ should be allowed to use female changing rooms.

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It acknowledges that some visitors may feel ‘uncomfortable’ at the presence of ‘someone whom they think of being of the opposite sex’ being in their changing room.

But staff are told to ‘sensitively’ explain the rules to anyone who objects or report them under Hate Crime.

As in many local authorities across Scotland, policies in Glasgow have been changing to be more inclusive of trans people. Staff have been told that anyone who identifies as male or female can take part in single sex sessions or use the changing rooms they feel most comfortable with.

However, the definition used by Glasgow Life not only includes people who have fully transitioned or are living as a different gender to the one they were assigned at birth, but also to men who cross-dress in feminine clothing.

Guidance to staff says: “The person is entitled to participate in single-sex sessions and cannot be excluded from participation of [sic] their chosen gender.”

Susan Sinclair, who tweets and blogs as Scottish Women, said it was astonishing the policy had ever been agreed. She said by law an assessment should have been done about how it might affect other people using the facilities, and that it left women and girls “open to abuse by sexual predators”.

A spokesperson at Glasgow Life said: “Glasgow Life’s staff guidance on accessing sports facilities and services by transgender people was produced and distributed in 2015. Since then, we have had more than 20 million attendances across our sport facilities and no reports of inappropriate behaviour in regard to trans customers. Trans men and trans women have been using our facilities for many years without incident.”