Help clarify the meaning of “sex” in the Equality Act

byadminMar 2nd '23Take Action

The Equality Act 2010 strives to protect anyone who may face discrimination.
Rightly so. But in order to prevent confusions, tensions and the demolition of women’s single sex spaces, the language the Act uses must be clarified.


Students across the UK have embarked upon ‘TikTok riots’ in protest against the installation of unisex toilets and new school rules which include girls on their periods needing to ask for ‘red cards’ if they need a toilet during lesson times.

The Equality Act 2010 is an incredibly important piece of legislation. It defines nine separate protected characteristics, including “sex” and “gender reassignment”, and seeks to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of those characteristics.
Over the past three years especially, the term ‘sex’ has been increasingly replaced by ‘gender’, making women’s single-sex spaces arenas of contention and increasing tensions.

After all, if sex does not mean biological sex but something open to interpretation, then single-sex spaces cannot be defined and cease to be the tailored, exclusive, safeguarded spaces women – and especially survivors of male violence as well as women of a myriad of religious faiths – need them to be.

Following numerous cases of women being secretly filmed and sexually assaulted by males self-identifying as women to access changing rooms in Primark, protests about, and boycotting of, the national chain by women’s groups has become widespread.

Under the Equality Act 2010, “sex” and “gender reassignment” are separate, protected characteristics.
However, confusion about how the Act interacts with the Gender Recognition Act 2004 has led to uncertainty and confusion for women, transgender peoples, schools, employers and single-sex service providers.
Specific exemptions under the Equality Act 2010 allows organisations to provide single-sex spaces and services for women and girls, on the assumption that “sex” means biological sex. But unless this assumption is clearly outlined and stated in black and white, single sex spaces and services continue to come under threat of abuse and even closure: be they toilets, rape crisis centres, refuges, sports competitions, or access to specialist medical services.
A fact which leaves women and girls of all ages and all walks of life self-excluding and more vulnerable in relation to their health, well-being and safety.
It is imperative the Act is clear.
Support Sex Matters call on the UK government to exercise its permitted powers and specify that the terms ‘sex’, ‘male’, ‘female’, ‘man’ & ‘woman’, in the operation of the law, mean biological sex and not “sex as modified/stated by a Gender Recognition Certificate.”

Join over 80,000 people in signing the petition HERE.