Credit: Derick P. Hudson /

Sources within An Garda Síochána have told Gript that they are “furious” that a new policy, which they fear could see them disciplined for refusing to use a person’s preferred pronouns, has been introduced “suddenly…and without any apparent consultation of staff.”

Compliance with the new policy, titled ‘Gender Identity in the Workplace,’ is ‘mandatory’ for all members of An Garda Síochána and Garda staff.  A Garda Headquarters Directive, signed by the Acting Executive Director of the Garda HR Department, Yvonne Cooke, formerly of the PSNI, had previously been sent to all officers and stations – that directive informed officers that a new policy was shortly to be sent to them and stated that “strict compliance” with the policy and procedure would be required from all staff.

The procedure associated with the new policy, titled ‘Gender Identity in the Workplace Procedure,’ states that “refusing to address a person by their expressed Gender pronoun or a new name” will be considered to constitute discrimination under both the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000, as will “refusing support on the basis of an individual’s Gender identity or Gender expression.”

Gript talked to multiple sources working within the Gardai about the introduction of the policy and its related procedure, all of whom requested anonymity due to a fear that speaking out would lead to reprisals from the organisation. One source said that people within the organisation, who disagreed with the policy, were “terrified to speak about it, except in hushed tones to close friends.”

Some sources spoke of their opposition to the new policy on religious grounds, with one source stating that, “as a practising Catholic,” they were “being forced, with the threat of losing my job, to disregard the articles of my faith in order to comply.” That source said they were afraid that refusing to comply with the policy could lead to them being terminated from their position.

Others opposed the policy on ideological grounds, saying that the policy “totally disregarded the concept of biological sex…and what it means to be a woman.”

One source told Gript that they were “angry there was no consultation” and “angry I can’t stand up and say no publicly because I need (sic) pay my rent.” The same source told Gript that “I’m far from the only one in work who feels this way,” but that “If I speak up publicly, I’ll lose friends, family, get called far-right, end up in a dole queue or worse.”

Sources also raised concerns about a provision in the procedure that states that staff who are transitioning, “but not in receipt of a Gender Recognition Certificate,” will not be required to “use the restroom/changing facility of their designated birth Gender.” One source said that “The women I work with are already concerned about the section on bathrooms/changing rooms.”

A source, when asked about the current culture inside the Gardai, and why there was such an apparent fear of speaking out,  told us “there’s already enough animosity with the Commissioner and the Justice Department over Garda rostering, among civil servants over changes to their status in the new policing bill, and the fear of losing a job, or being silently passed over for promotion, because you don’t have the correct politics. We deal with rapes, robbery, violence, victimized children, drugs and every other horrific act under the sun daily. Having to pretend I’m ok with a man in a dress sharing changing rooms with my female colleagues is a bit too far.”

The document makes nearly no mention of a person’s biological sex, other than to state that a person’s ‘designated gender at birth’ refers to ‘what sex was originally listed on a person’s birth certificate.’

This conflating of biological sex and gender is a common tactic amongst more radical transgender activists, usually one used with an intention to minimise the importance of, or to effectively reject the existence of, biological sex.

Similarly, the idea that sex is assigned to us at birth by experts and is effectively a subjective procedure, rather than that one’s sex is simply observed at birth, or prior to birth with technology, is also commonly used by activists who seek to reject the idea that sex is an innate biological reality.

Gript asked An Garda Síochána to comment on the policy; the views expressed by sources; the degree to which those who breach the policy can be disciplined; the replacement of sex with gender in the policy; and the degree to which they were certain this policy was legally solid. We’ll update this article when we receive such a comment.

Gary Kavanagh

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