A male-only secretive fraternity will now allow trans people to join.
City of London councillor Edward Lord OBE, who is currently overseeing the Corporation's review of its policy on gender identity, and is former deputy chair of Pride in London's advisory board came under fire at the weekend for also being a Freemason.
Lord, who is bisexual and recently came out as non-binary, made reference on Twitter to new guidance for the United Grand Lodge of England, which will now allow trans men to join and trans women to remain in the ‘brotherhood’.
Formal names will not be changed for trans women, who will still be referred to as ‘Brother [Female Name].
There are two female versions of the Freemasons called The Order of Women Freemasons and the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons which began in 1902.
The guidance reads: “A Freemason who after initiation ceases to be a man does not cease to be a Freemason.”
Although it is allowing trans women to join the society, it states that they “must have undergone reassignment surgery”.
The guidance continues: “It is important that any situation involving gender reassignment of a Freemason is treated with the utmost compassion and sensitivity and that the individual is supported throughout the process.
“No candidate should be subjected to questions about their gender which could make them feel uncomfortable.”
Lord defended their position as both a Freemason and diversity campaigner after receiving criticism and said: “I take the view that I can best influence change from within."
“My preference would be that membership of Freemasonry wouldn’t be restricted on gender/sex, but we will never get to that point unless some people inside the organisation say, ‘Hey this doesn’t make sense, why don’t we change?’”