Ministry of Justice (MoJ) staff were told to be ‘trans allies’ by avoiding 35 everyday phrases, according to an email leaked to The Daily Telegraph.
The HM Prison and Probation Service’s (HMPPS) diversity and inclusion team told staff that phrases like “gender critical” and “protecting women and girls” were “turning what would be considered overt discrimination into covert behaviour”.
The emailed glossary titled “recognising transphobic coded language” came from an official MoJ email address and went out to thousands of staff.
According to the email, “gender critical” – which is used to refer to those who accept that biological sex is binary – is a term used to make “anti-trans discrimination sound palatable”.
Phrases like “protect women’s spaces” or “protecting women and girls” is said to equate “trans women with being predatory men” and play on “unfounded fears and convince people that supporting trans inclusion threatens their safety”.
“Adult human female” is another phrase claimed to manipulate people into “supporting bigotry while creating hostility towards trans people and their allies”.
‘Aggressive, antagonistic nonsense’
Civil servants are told that it is “important to recognise these words and phrases” and to “educate those you hear using them”.
- • “gender critical”
- • “adult human female”
- • “protect women’s spaces”
- • “protecting women and girls”
An MoJ staff member told The Telegraph: “The worst thing was that I was unable to raise it safely at work for fear of being labelled a transphobe. It came across as very aggressive and antagonistic towards anyone who believes in biological reality. I feel upset and powerless.”
Another source told the newspaper: “Nonsense like this undermines decent progress on creating a genuinely fair and respectful environment in prisons.”
Maya Forstater, Executive Director of Sex Matters, said: “It is chilling that an official MoJ staff group email is telling civil servants to view ordinary language as transphobic.”
She added: “It is telling staff that any critical thinking in regards to this ideology is offensive. This both creates a hostile environment for staff who don’t buy into gender ideology, and makes it impossible for them to speak clearly and honestly about prisoners”.
An HMPPS spokesman told The Telegraph that the “guidebook was published by a staff network, its content was not approved prior to being communicated and it is a network rather than a corporate HMPPS view.”
He added: “Following its publication, HMPPS is reviewing the rules around internal communications to staff from network groups.”
‘Binary and immutable’
Last month, the Sex Equality and Equity Network (SEEN) was launched with the aim to help civil servants exercise their freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It is open to all public sector staff in the UK.
The cross-government network is committed to protecting the belief that “biological sex is binary and immutable” and that “biological sex matters for both women and men in our everyday lives”.
The group, which is open to all UK civil servants and public sector staff, said, “biological sex must not be conflated with, or replaced by, the concepts of gender or gender identity”.
It added that there is a need to “talk openly and clearly about sex-based rights using clear language”.