Use transgender pronouns or face possible dismissal: new guidelines for NI’s 23,000 civil servants

Rules which compel Northern Ireland’s 23,000 civil servants to use transgender terminology have been put into force, it has emerged.

Monday, 31st August 2020, 8:00 am
Updated Monday, 31st August 2020, 1:07 pm
A costumed demonstrator at the first-ever Belfast 'Trans Pride' event, summer, 2019, in the shadow of St Anne's Cathedral. The News Letter was the only media which covered the gathering.

The News Letter has discovered that, during the period when there was no government in Northern Ireland, the civil service altered its rule book to say that all workers must use whatever words transgender people want, or face disciplinary action – and possible dismissal.

A transgender campaign group and the Equality Commission spoke positively of the changes (CLICK HERE TO READ THEIR REACTION).

But former finance minister Mervyn Storey said there are religious people and people of no faith alike who “do not sit comfortably with all of this” – and criticised the fact it was put into force in the absence of a minister (CLICK HERE TO READ HIS REACTION).

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The new policy does not just concern people who have undergone (or will undergo) a “sex change” operation.

It is a common misunderstanding that this is what the term “transgender” means.

Instead the modern transgender movement argues that people should be allowed to “self-identify” as whatever gender they want regardless of whether they have had surgery or hormone treatment.

This means that a person who is genetically male, has male bodily features, and is legally registered as male, should be considered female if they choose to “identify” as such (and vice versa).

The transgender movement also holds that there are not simply two genders, but many.

Such people often call themselves “non-binary”.

They sometimes want to be referred to not with the standard pronouns “he” or “her”, but with new words like “ze” and “zir”.

The change in the civil service rules takes the form of a new segment of its staff handbook, entitled the “Trans Equality Policy Statement” (specifically, it is called section 6.13).

The new policy begins by saying “people perform better when they can be themselves”, that the objective is to have “a truly inclusive workplace which reflects the society we serve”, and goes on to use the words “inclusive” or “diverse” (and their variants) 29 times.

It states: “[T]rans is an umbrella term and there are a wide range of transitioning experiences and trans identities, including non-binary trans people...

“Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, gender-queer, gender-fluid, non-binary, gender-variant, crossdresser, genderless, agender, nongender, third gender, two-spirit, bi-gender, trans man, trans woman, trans masculine, trans feminine and neutrois.”

It says “names and pronouns should be followed in accordance with the individual’s wishes”.

It adds: “Intentionally and persistently mis-gendering or using colleagues’ previous names would amount to harassment and should not be tolerated.

“Breaches of this policy will be treated in a serious manner and be dealt with under the Dignity at Work Policy.”

And the Dignity at Work Policy in turn states: “Staff whose behaviour constitutes harassment, bullying, discrimination or victimisation can be liable for disciplinary action which could lead to their dismissal.”

When it comes to toilets and changing rooms, the new rules suggest the creation of “gender neutral” facilities – but “whether this is possible or not, trans people should be able to use the facilities allocated to their affirmed gender”.

This leaves open the possibility of biological men using ladies’ facilities (or vice versa).

READ MORE NEWS LETTER COVERAGE OF THESE ISSUES:

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