Anti-trans EHRC commissioner gives talk to anti trans Guardian staff network.

Above is a photo of Akua Reindorf (Middle) at the LGB Alliance conference, whilst also holding a tote back with a Labour Woman’s Declaration logo on it.

In early December an openly transphobic staff network [AB1] called the Guardian and Observer Sex Equality and Equity Group (SEE) held a presentation for journalists in The Guardian offices, given by Equality and Human Rights Commissioner Akua Reindorf KC, alongside Observer reporter Rachel Cooke. According to anonymous inside sources SEE have been unchallenged by management at the Guardian despite their openly transphobic goals and statements creating a tense environment for many workers, showing further decline into peddling hateful rhetoric at the expense of trans people. This recent move by the group aims to further ingrain transphobia in the ecosystem of mainstream reporting as Akua has been a key player in legal motions made by anti-trans activists in recent years.

Sources said the presentation, held on December 5th and attended by around a dozen people, was advertised in the offices as “Free Speech and The Law” to discuss “Free Expression and Human Rights” which could seem innocuous to passers-by except for the talkers being platformed. Akua Reindorf is the lawyer behind the “Reindorf Report” that denounced deplatforming transphobic speakers at the University of Essex leading to a wave of moral panic reporting in 2021 involving ‘silencing free speech’ attacks on Stonewall for giving advice to Diversity Champion members in support of trans rights. This onslaught resulted in withdrawal of membership from its Diversity Champion Scheme by many institutions including the BBC, Department of Education and even the EHRC whose code of practice the Stonewall clarity guidance was based on.

Reindorf has defended the LGB Alliance in court when it’s at-the-time new charitable status was challenged by the charity Mermaids supported by many other trans rights organisations who called it an anti-trans lobby group. She has provided services to prominent anti-trans speaker Julie Bindel in her legal case against Nottinghamshire County Council for cancelling her event in 2022, among others. In October last year Akua was spotted attending the LGB Alliance Conference wearing merchandise from Labour Women’s Declaration (LWD), another openly transphobic group, as is pictured in this article. LWD operate within the Labour Party and exist to push forward anti-trans party policy and state on their website that they work with, Women’s Place UK, Sex matters and other notable transphobic pressure groups.

The other speaker at this event, Guardian writer Rachel Cooke, also reported for the Guardian on attending a Journalism panel held by Women’s Place UK, a pressure group set up in response to consultation of the Gender Recognition Act who are vehemently opposed to self-ID and advocate for trans exclusion under the guise of expanding women-only spaces. This earlier event, held on November 9th, had Julie Bindel on the panel as well as Chief Lead Writer for the Observer Sonia Sodha, who often also writes for the Guardian with clear anti-trans bias focus as recently as January 2024.

This talk is the second known meeting of SEE. A previous online meeting and Q+A was held in April last year as part of their Diversity and Inclusion week and, unsurprisingly, featured no trans journalists, contained many dog-whistles and misinformation according to those who have seen the recording. This was reportedly attended by around 120 people and presented by senior members of the Guardian’s staff like Sonia Sodha, Susanna Rustin (who since October 2021 has written four stories for the Guardian, all focused on anti-trans rhetoric) and Nils Pratley. A liberal paper that supposedly operates from a left-leaning perspective appears to be falling further and further into pushing anti-trans ideology as time goes on. This shift has led to some trans journalists like Vic Parsons distancing themselves from the Guardian over recent years. With meetings like this taking place it is easy to understand why.

It is hard not to draw similarities to the naming of the group SEE with the Sex Equality and Equity Networks (SEEN) that have been growing over the last two years, developing new groups in different institutions. SEEN started in the Civil Service around 2022, then a replica group was founded for financial sector workers in early 2023. Most concerningly at the beginning of this year two new groups formed, one for serving Police officers and the other HR professionals.

The SEEN website hosts links to the twitter pages of all four of these networks yet states each one is independent. Articles on the website are all anonymised but according to the bylines these pieces are from Department of Work and Pensions workers, Civil Service Workers and Youth Justice Board members. Importantly there is no mention of the Guardian and Observer SEE Group and so we cannot claim there is any link beyond possible inspiration in name and stated goals.

When asked about this possible conflict of interest, whether it is appropriate for an Equality and Human Rights Commissioner to openly attend and speak at such events, or nurture connections to these networks that are openly hostile to a marginalised group, a spokesperson for the EHRC responded with this:

“All our commissioners are required to adhere to the obligations laid out in our Governance Manual and Code of Conduct, which follow civil service codes of good practice. They adopt the highest standards as public servants, in line with the Nolan Principles. All our commissioners are also required declare any conflicts of interest on an annual basis.”

Reindorf’s actions aside, the strategic networking taking place between transphobic groups is becoming bolder and, in that boldness, it is becoming apparent these groups are not only multiplying but meeting more frequently with other anti-trans organisations. If such networking is occurring, then an anti-trans journalist panel held in November could encourage an attendee to present a talk within a large news outlets’ office on the same topic with a prominent vocally anti-trans EHRC commissioner a month later although this is unconfirmed.


Akua refs:

Labour Women’s Declaration group associations:

Rachel Cooke on attending women’s place panel-

Women’s place event details:

Vic Parsons source (trans journalists leaving guardian, did not mention Freddy McConnell as in Feb 2024 he wrote for the guardian again) :

Previous SEE event:

Susanna Rustin Articles:

Sonia Sodha article-

SEEN network-

SEEN Anonymised articles of apparent YJB, Civil Service and DWP workers

EHCR Governance manual and conflict of interests:

 [AB1]Shall we have it open saying “In octobeer last year, an openly transphobic….” ? Might make it start a bit smoother maybe? It is good, but feels it might need it.