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Women wanting to ban trans swimmers from Hampstead’s female-only bathing pond are told by their own committee that the move could be illegal


A row has erupted over a proposal to ban trans women from one of Britain’s most famous swimming pools after the women pushing the move were told by their own committee it could be illegal. 

The Kenwood Ladies Pond has been open to transgender women since 2010, when the City of London Corporation (CoLC) – responsible for running the facility – adopted a new gender identity policy.

There are already men-only and mixed swimming lakes in the area. 

The Kenwood Ladies Pond Association (KLPA), which has around 1,000 members, has been asked to update its constitution around the word ‘woman’ at its annual general meeting. 

The proposed resolution urges that the word woman  be ‘interpreted literally and biologically so that only those born female in sex can use the pond’.

A row has erupted over a proposal to ban trans women from one of Britain's most famous swimming pools (Pictured: The Kenwood Ladies Pond)

A row has erupted over a proposal to ban trans women from one of Britain’s most famous swimming pools (Pictured: The Kenwood Ladies Pond)

The Kenwood Ladies Pond has been open to transgender women since 2010

The Kenwood Ladies Pond has been open to transgender women since 2010

In 2019, The City of London Corporation officially adopted a new gender identity policy which means anyone can use Hampstead Heath's Ladies' Pond is they identify as female

In 2019, The City of London Corporation officially adopted a new gender identity policy which means anyone can use Hampstead Heath’s Ladies’ Pond is they identify as female 

The resolution adds that men who call themselves women, see themselves as women, claim to be women, identify as women, or wish to be women ‘are to be excluded’.

However, there has been pushback from the group’s own members who state that any such proposal could be ‘unlawful.’  

Pauline Latchem and Beth Feresten, co-chairs of the KLPA, said in a statement: ‘The KLPA management committee has appended to the AGM papers a formal response explaining that it is in receipt of legal opinion that the proposal is likely to be unlawful and that, pending further legal advice, the amendment may be removed from consideration at the AGM.

‘In addition, the committee officers have reiterated that all women are welcome to join the KLPA and recorded their opinion that it would be irresponsible and contrary to good governance to recommend to the membership a proposal that is likely to be unlawful as well as impossible to enforce.’

Opponents have often cited Muslim women and Orthodox Jewish women being excluded from the pond due to the policy.

But a user of X, previously known as Twitter, posted a screenshot of the proposal on the social media platform calling supporters of the corporation’s policy within the KLPA ‘self-hating women’.

The user, @esjayXX, said: ‘We have a ladies swimming pond in London (as well as a men’s and a mixed sex).

‘Sadly some members want to allow men into this magical space. Because women are not allowed our own spaces.

‘The City of London set the rules. But self-hating women in the £KLPA maintain them.’

The KLPA has consistently said it is committed to helping to create an inclusive environment for all women, including transgender women.

KLPA has said only members can attend the AGM next month however the row has been rumbling on since 2018 when transgender bathers were given full access following a controversial consultation. 

At the time, many questioned why the council gave the motion a green light despite disregarding nearly 19,000 of responses to its equality survey.

The Kenwood Ladies’ Pond (pictured), was officially opened in 1925, although swimmers had been using it for centuries

The Kenwood Ladies’ Pond (pictured), was officially opened in 1925, although swimmers had been using it for centuries

In 2018 activists (including this woman), staged a demonstration at the Men's Pond on Hampstead Heath, dressing as men to make their point

In 2018 activists (including this woman), staged a demonstration at the Men’s Pond on Hampstead Heath, dressing as men to make their point 

The pond is used by celebrities including Kate Moss, Helena Bonham-Carter and Emma Thompson, comedian Rhona Cameron and author Esther Freud.

The policy – which has been welcomed by the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association (KLPA) – comes after an online survey consultation on attitudes to gender identity received nearly 40,000 responses.   

But 18,459 were disregarded as invalid, on the basis that those respondents did not answer any questions other than to identify themselves and declare the reason for their interest in the survey. 

The survey, undertaken by the City Corporation, showed around 12,390 of the remaining 21,000 respondents agreed that trans people should be able to access services relating to their gender identity. 

In total, around 18,459 votes were thrown out, 12,390 were in favour of transgender users, and 8,610 were against. 

The council said the move will ensure a ‘robust and consistent approach’ to gender identity.

But some women have expressed concern the policy will put their safety at risk in female-only spaces. 

One woman said in response to the survey: ‘This is opening-up opportunities and safe spaces for women to any man who claims to self-ID as a woman.

‘Statistics show that women are at risk of male violence.

‘This includes genuine transwomen – these transwomen with GRC and cis women need safe places and not to have misogynistic self-ID advocates trying to erode their rights and safe spaces.’



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