Councillor Jake Bonetta (second to right) who proposed the motion which was seconded by Councillor Joe Whibley (far right) stand holding the trans flag
Councillor Jake Bonetta (second to right) proposed the motion which was seconded by Councillor Joe Whibley (far right) (Photo credit EDDC)

A move to create a more ‘welcoming, inclusive and respectful’ space for transgender and non-binary people has been backed by East Devon District Council (EDDC) councillors.

The following motion, focusing on the authority’s services and work as an employer, was overwhelming supported by councillors at the full council meeting held on Wednesday 22 February:

EDDC recognises the challenges trans residents may face, including domestic abuse, hate crimes, homelessness, poor medical access and workplace issues. Housing is a particular concern for trans people, so inclusion is vital for our housing team.

To ensure EDDC champions diversity, the needs and experiences of trans people will be reflected in improved training and guidance for employees.”

EDDC will also now fly the transgender flag every year on 31 March – International Transgender Day of Visibility and on 20 November –International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Councillor Paul Arnott, leader of the council, said:

"Everyone knows that this is a contentious issue, and that elements on social media, the press and a small number of politicians use it as clickbait.

“That is shameful.

“Above all else, this is about a council of elected members showing kindness and consideration for a group of citizens on a challenging journey.

“I perfectly understand public opinion on this is in the balance, but while that becomes settled over the years the people at the heart of the issue must be shown tolerance and respect.

“A council can signal its support for that position and EDDC can be proud that it has just done precisely that.”

Councillor Jake Bonetta, who put forward this motion, said:

“This motion signals further support by EDDC of existing national legislation, ensuring safeguards are enforced to protect our transgender and non-binary communities.

“This is a firm commitment by the council, proudly recognising these communities exist, and I want to pay tribute to the public speakers who gave up their time to share their lived experiences at the council meeting.

“I’m proud that I can leave the meeting this evening knowing full well that my transgender sister, transitioning childhood best friend and non-binary work colleagues will be safer and more secure because of it.”