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Tory Leadership hopeful Kemi Badenoch reportedly pushed FCA to ditch trans self-ID policy

Vice World News has seen letters from the former equalities minister questioning the trans-inclusive policy.

By Emily Maskell

Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Wiki Commons 

The former UK Government equalities minister and now Conservative party leader hopeful, Kemi Badenoch, wrote to the UK’s financial services regulator urging them to drop a trans-inclusive policy, it has been revealed.

Letters seen by Vice World News dated November 2021 show Badenoch and Marcial Boo, the chief executive officer of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), contacting the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

The FCA is supposed to be an independent body from the UK government in its responsibility for the conduct of around 58,000 businesses, which employ over two million people.

However, the policy applies to around a thousand companies. 

It was planning to roll out a trans-inclusive workplace policy in early 2022, which would request the organisations it regulates to adopt ‘self-ID’ for reporting on workplace diversity.

According to Vice, this was withdrawn following an anti-trans backlash.

In October 2021 the trans-inclusive workplace policy plans were picked up and hundreds of letters from organisations, like the LGB Alliance, opposing the decision were sent to the FCA.

One FCA whistleblower told VICE that the timing felt “so calculated.”

“Our really progressive plans were suddenly splashed across British media, and totally spun to create drama, and then we received a ridiculous amount of negative letters,” the whistleblower said.

They note that in the letters trans women were being called men and the plans were being accused of erasing cis women from leadership roles.

They continue: “I couldn’t believe that we received negative letters from the UK’s Equalities Minister and the CEO of the Equality and Human Rights Commission – they should be protecting LGBT rights not working against them. We were so shocked.”

The letters penned by Badenoch and Boo, according to VICE, push for the FCA to block trans women from being able to self-identify.

Badenoch is quoted as writing: “The ‘sex’ of an individual is an important protected characteristic.

“It would be helpful to understand what measures are in place to ensure that your approach does not undermine your efforts to measure and improve the representation of the female sex in company boards.”

Vice says the UK government, FCA and EHRC all blocked freedom of information requests as revealing the information “could seriously undermine the FCA’s regulatory function.”

Following the media backlash, FCA bosses are reported to have “immediately back-pedalled” and made the upcoming policy “as transphobic as possible”.

A month after the letters were received the FCA had prepared guidance reportedly stating that organisations should only recognise trans people as their desired male-or-female sex if they hold a Gender Recognition Certificate.

After LGBTQ staff at the FCA complained the guidance changed again and the FCA decided it wouldn’t tell companies how to define their employees based on sex or gender. 

One FCA staff member, who spoke anonymously to Vice said: “The final version is obviously less progressive, but it’s not as terrible as it was going to be after we received the letters. I just can’t believe we had to go backwards on trans equality because of the UK’s equalities minister.”

A spokesperson for Badenoch, according to VICE, said: “In response to a FCA consultation, and in her capacity as Equalities Minister, Kemi wrote to the FCA on how they could comply with the Equality Act and improve the representation of women on city boards”.

The FCA told Vice it is committed to having a diverse workforce.

“We want all our colleagues to have the dignity and respect they need to flourish, fulfilling their potential without fear of discrimination, harassment or victimisation. Our internal policies set out our commitment to trans inclusion.”

In a statement given to Attitude the EHRC said it gave “impartial advice, alongside other organisations, to provide clarity on equality legislation,” and that “where rights may conflict, it is important for us to advise on striking an appropriate balance in accordance with the law, and it is then up to individual organisations to determine their own policies.”

Bobbi Pickard, CEO of Trans in the City, responded to Badenoch and the EHRC’s leaked letters saying it is “no surprise, given their constant campaign against trans people – and trans women especially.”

She continued: “I can only hope that we obtain a government in the future that leads with empathy, intelligence and integrity – as global business does – rather than one driven by ill-informed vendettas against the most marginalised people in our society.”

Badenoch, the 42-year-old Saffron Walden MP, is currently in the running to be the next Prime Minister after Boris Johnson’s recent resignation.

She has previously been under fire for holding transphobic views; she defended a university professor accused of transphobia, has been reported to have misgendered trans people and questioned gay marriage in leaked recordings

Attitude has approached Kemi Badenoch, and the FCA for comment.

The Attitude July/August issue is out now.