The EHRC’s sex symbols

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says their role is ‘to make the country a fairer place by enforcing and upholding the laws that safeguard everyone’s right to fairness, dignity and respect.’

They have produced a series of short videos, which they included in tweets linking to more information about all nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010:

They tweeted the video about gender reassignment in January 2021 and again on 28 October 2021.

The tweet and video are concerning. They have used different words and phrases to that in the Act and use the gender ideology phrase of ‘sex assigned at birth’.

The graphic symbols they use are also concerning. In their video about the protected characteristic of sex, they use these symbols:

These widely recognised glyphs represent the male and female sexes so it is clearly helpful to use them in a video about the protected characteristic of sex, relating to being either female or male.

However, in their video about gender reassignment, these sex symbols make an appearance alongside three new ones that are pastiches of the female and male sex symbols.

But what do they mean?

To me, they give the distinct impression that the EHRC thinks there are more than two sexes or that there are other sexes between or beyond female and male when that is simply ideological nonsense. It would be bad enough just to have their bastardised symbols used alongside the female and male symbols but it is exacerbated by their positioning of the symbols between the female and male symbols:

Even if it was true there were more than two sexes, the Act only recognises female and male, so would these additional ‘sexes’ even be covered by the protected characteristic of sex in Act? Who knows, but whatever, the video is misleading and confusing.

Even though we know the EHRC has had difficulties being consistent and clear in other aspects of their advice, they are at least do state:

In UK law, ‘sex’ is understood as binary, with a person’s legal sex being determined by what is recorded on their birth certificate

And why did the EHRC choose to use the phrase ‘sex assigned at birth’ in their video and tweet?

Even though it is a common trope of many genderists, sex is not ‘assigned’ at birth as if it was in some way an arbitrary or capricious choice that was made by someone at that time and can be changed. This is gender ideology nonsense.

I sent the EHRC the following email setting all this out and asking for an explanation. I will update you when I receive an answer.


I note your tweet on 28 October 2021 about the protected characteristic of gender reassignment that included a short video explaining it.

Click here to to play the video in the tweet.

Your video (see attached copy) uses the common glyphs for female ♀ and male ♂ (in white). As you will be aware, female and male are the terms used in the Equality Act 2010 to refer to the protected characteristic of sex and that there are no other sex categories in the Act, consistent with biology.

However, you introduce three other symbols, which appear to be hybrids of the female and male symbols but with some additional elements:

Can you explain what you mean by each of these and what relevance they have to the protected characteristic of gender reassignment and why you used them?

Your video and the text of the tweet state:

You must not be discriminated against because you are transitioning or intend to transition from your sex assigned at birth.

The Act gives the definition of the protected characteristic of gender reassignment:

7 Gender reassignment

(1) A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.

Can you explain why you seem to believe that the definition given in your video is equivalent to that given in the Act? If it is not somehow equivalent, why did you choose to use it?

Your video definition (repeated in the text of your tweet) also suffers from the error that sex is ‘assigned’ at birth when it is not:

Humans are sexually dimorphic: there are only two viable gametes and two sexes, whose primary and secondary sexual characteristics determine what role they play in human reproduction. Sex is determined at fertilisation and revealed at birth or, increasingly, in utero. The existence of rare and well-described ‘disorders (differences) of sexual differentiation’ does not negate the fact that sex is binary. The term ‘assigned at birth’ suggests a possibly arbitrary allocation by a health professional, rather than the observed product of sexual reproduction.

– Griffin, L., Clyde, K., Byng, R., & Bewley, S. (2020). Sex, gender and gender identity: A re-evaluation of the evidence. BJPsych Bulletin, 1-9. doi:10.1192/bjb.2020.73

I hope you will agree that perpetuating misleading or erroneous information about protected characteristics helps no one: language and meaning of words and symbols are important and proper use and understanding of terms is vital so that organisations and the public are aware of what rights they have and what their duties are. Any confusion or inconsistency over meaning may prevent people from accessing their rights in law.

Please acknowledge receipt by return and I look forward to receiving your response.

Thanks and best regards.