Members of the Mayday 4 Women group picketed a meeting of the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association who held a closed meeting to discuss the situation. It is understood, 100 of the 400 members of the KLPA met after concerns were raised about self-identifying trans women from using the female-only facility.
One insider told The Guardian: ‘It’s an important issue. There are different views about trans women using the pond and some of us are concerned about the fact that it has always been the only all-women swimming place in Britain.‘
Famous names such as Helena Bonham Carter, comedian Rhona Cameron and author Esther Freud are regular users of the pond.
The City of London Corporation who are responsible for the facility said self-identifying trans women were now welcome to use the pond and the female changing rooms.
In a statement, the Corporation said: ‘Over the last year all lifeguards and managers at Hampstead Heath ponds have taken transgender awareness training courses, which have been offered to, and taken by, the ponds’ swimming associations as well. We are working with the LGBTQ community to ensure our facilities are fit to serve the needs of everyone who enjoys them, and will continue to do so in the future.’
But Mayday 4 Women have been campaigning against the change and have produced flyers to ‘keep the Hampstead Heath ladies’ pond a sanctuary for women’.
According to the group: ‘Males already have access to two ponds: the men’s pond and the mixed pond. Why should they have access to three ponds when they already have access to two?’
KLPA told The Guardian: ‘Although it is tempting to assume someone’s gender simply by their appearance, it’s important to try to avoid doing so and to be aware of the needs of genuinely transgender women.’
In December, feminist writer Julie Bindell who has swam at the pond for more than 30 years told the Mail on Sunday: ‘It is totally unacceptable to allow men who identify as women, but who are otherwise male bodied and socialised as men, to be in a women-only space. I have seen mothers bring their young daughters who are self-conscious about their bodies but want to feel good about swimming and exposing their skin to the sun. The last thing they want is to look behind them and see a male-bodied person pretending to be a woman in order to gawp at them.’