The following paragraphs sketch out four areas of interest from Strand One’s research.
While some single-sex services, such as schools, rely on birth certificates as a form of identification when students first join a school, others – domestic violence providers in particular- generally do not require identification documents. Particularly in the domestic violence context asking for forms of identification, including those that indicate formal legal gender status, would create too high a barrier to access for service users fleeing violence or abuse, often with very belongings. Interviewees highlighted that this meant that a person’s formal legal status has relatively little relevance to determine whether to provide access to services.
Trans and non-binary inclusion
Domestic violence services and single-sex schools already frequently include trans and non-binary people within their services, often because there is a perception that this does not challenge the single-sex status of the service in question and because access to these services is clearly important.
Alternative criteria to legal sex/gender
While formal legal gender status had little relevance in both school and domestic violence service contexts, other types of inclusion criteria often played a significant role in determining access to services. Interviewees told us they used the following forms of inclusion criteria (but not limited to): whether someone would benefit from the relevant service, whether they would be a good fit with the existing community, what risk management processes were in places, and the level of privacy available and/or required for a specific activity.
Equality Act 2010 as a minimum standard
Interviewees from both single-sex schools and domestic violence services highlighted that while the Equality Act 2010 provides an important basis for anti-discrimination and other equality measures, this functioned primarily as a baseline to designate the minimum standards employers and service providers should meet. Domestic violence service providers noted that the law in some ways functioned well right now, as it provided them enough freedom and discretion to set up and run services in line with a particular ethos; any future legal changes should enable a similar level of autonomy.