The UK holiday company’s policy came to light after a transgender woman emailed customer services ahead of her visit to ask if there were any rules she should be aware of.
Victoria Hodges was planning to visit Center Parcs in the Lake District, where she’s been with her family every year for the last three years, but the forthcoming trip would be her first since transitioning.
At first, Center Parcs replied by saying that transgender guests could make use of “private changing rooms” on site.
When Hodges emailed back to ask if that meant she could not use the women’s changing rooms, a representative for the holiday company said: “Transgender guests are welcome to use the changing rooms that match with their acquired gender if they have gone through the full transition.
“If they are still in the transition period we would ask that they use the private changing facilities.”
Speaking to PinkNews, Hodges said she was “very surprised” by the response and thought it might be a mistake.
“This can’t seriously be their policy towards transgender individuals using their spa and changing facilities,” she added. “What the policy does is to segregate transgender individuals into those that have and those that haven’t ‘gone through the full transition’ vs. ‘still in the transition period’.”
The policy also sparked a debate on Twitter, with trans support group Gendered Intelligence tweeting: “There is no justification for a blanket ban on trans people using single-sex facilities.”
Center Parcs confirmed its policy in a statement given to The Independent. "We always seek to make Center Parcs as inclusive and accessible as possible for all of our guests, visitors and employees.
"Within the spa area, we operate single sex, male and female, changing facilities. Having single-sex changing facilities is in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 and we ask that guests use the changing facilities appropriate to their legally defined sex. If guests wish to use changing facilities appropriate to their gender, we will always speak to them to see what options are available to them, whilst taking into account and balancing the interests of other guests. We do offer all of our guests the option to use a private changing facility to ensure that all guests and visitors can use the spa.
"We appreciate that this is a deeply personal issue and we feel our policy is proportionate and compliant with the Equality Act 2010."
However, a spokesperson for LGBT+ charity Stonewall tells The Independent that Center Parcs' policy could be viewed as discriminatory. "The law states that trans people can use the facilities that match their gender and for nearly a decade trans people have been doing this without issue. It is illegal to ask to see a Gender Recognition Certificate, and the law states that trans people accessing single-sex spaces which match their gender should not be discriminated against," they said.
"The exemptions to this rule only apply when they are a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. This includes sensitive and complex services and these exemptions are only lawful in very restricted circumstances. In almost all situations it is required that trans people are treated equally."