Union refuses to condemn high-ranking official for transphobic remarks
The Fire Brigade Union has refused to condemn a series of transphobic comments made by one of its senior officials.
Paul Embery, an executive council member, made the remarks on Twitter in response to the government’s move to reform transgender laws.
He wrote: “Coming next: short people may identify as tall, fat people may identify as thin, and ugly people may pretend to be George Clooney.”
In his now-pinned tweet, he added: “There’s something Orwellian about allowing someone to insert a lie on their birth certificate & forcing society to accept the lie as truth.”
Embery defended his views, tweeting to PinkNews journalist Benjamin Butterworth that “forcing society to recognise someone as one gender when he/she maintains the anatomy of another is ludicrous.
“Sorry if that upsets you,” he added.
A Stonewall spokesperson said that “comments like this underline how much work there is still to be done to make trans equality a reality.”
But the FBU refused to denounce the remarks.
The union’s head of communication Lynne Wallis said: “We are only able to say that Paul Embery’s views as expressed on his private Twitter page are his own, and are not those of the Fire Brigades Union.
“We are therefore unable to comment further.”
When pressed on whether the FBU would take action against Embery for his comments – which were made on a Twitter profile which can be viewed by anyone – Wallis refused to respond.
A Stonewall spokesperson said this kind of statement was insufficient.
“Organisations that consider themselves trans inclusive should call out all instances of transphobic language and behaviour exhibited by staff or members, wherever they take place,” they said.
“Making a clear stand against transphobia within your organisation sends a clear signal to others that this behaviour will not be tolerated, and shows trans people that you welcome and respect them.”
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Embery, who also later called the proposals “absurd,” is not only prominent figure who has struggled with the idea of trans people gaining more rights.
Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the left-wing New Statesman, wrote in The Times: “In this climate, who would challenge someone with a beard exposing their penis in a women’s changing room?”
Embery tweeted his message above a screenshot of a Sunday Times article which drew criticism for the way it reported the government’s proposals.
Tim Shipman and Jason Allardyce wrote: “Adults will be able to change their gender legally without a doctor’s diagnosis under government plans that will transform British society.
“Men will be able to identify themselves as women – and women as men – and have their birth certificates altered to record their new gender.”
Women would identify as women – and men as men – under the new plans, which acknowledge trans rights.