South Oxfordshire District Council has voted for a new policy ensuring all its buildings have gender-neutral toilets in a new inclusive move.
The local authority will also ensure all services, communications and policies are gender-neutral and accessible to all “regardless of their sexuality or gender identity”.
The motion was put forward by Alexandrine Kantor, a Liberal Democrat councillor.
Discussing the motion, Kantor spoke about statistics that said trans people had avoided eating and drinking so they didn’t have to use public toilets. Some had even developed kidney and urinary tract issues as a result.
She asserted that the council believes: “Trans men are men, trans women are women, and that non-binary genders are just as valid.”
The motion also declared: “It is our duty as community leaders who seek to create an open and tolerant society to speak out against transphobia and make clear it will not be tolerated.”
It was seconded by David Rouane, another Liberal Democrat councillor, who said he had been told by trans people “they did not feel accepted as part of our community”.
It comes weeks after the government launched a review into gender-neutral toilets labelled by one critic as an “utterly shameless attack on non-binary people and also nonsense in terms of legislation”.
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There were 22 votes in support of the motion, with six abstinences. A Green councillor, an independent councillor and 4 Conservative councillors abstained from the vote.
Among these was Conservative councillor David Bartholomew, who said he had “great concerns about this council spending time discussing matters beyond its remit”.
Kantor responded: “We have trans people living amongst us and we need to make our society welcoming for them.”
The authority covers Henley, Didcot, Wallingford and Thame.