TRANSGENDER WOMEN are now free to remain Freemasons so long as they were once men, the largest UK lodge has said.
In a landmark decision today, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) – comprised of around 7,000 lodges overall – said that expelling masons for transitioning to the female gender was "unlawful discrimination".
The lodge's new gender reassignment policy also states that women who transition to become male should be allowed to join its ranks.
In force from this week, the UGLE's 'guidance document' orders that a Freemason's gender reassignment "should be treated with the utmost compassion and sensitivity".
Nevertheless, the UGLE's estimated 200,000 members will still be formally referred to as "brothers", irrespective of gender identity.
However, its guidance document adds that going forward masons should, when possible, be addressed "by the name and title he/she has chosen".
It further warns that using a mason's gender-reassignment as a justification to exclude them from male-only lodges is now "unlawful discrimination and so could never constitute sufficient cause".
Issued to 7,000 lodges across the country, the document states: "If a Freemason who is a member of UGLE wishes to change gender and become a woman, we expect that the Freemason would receive the full support of their brethren."
The move comes shortly after the British Government passed new legislation aimed at preventing discrimination against people who have undergone gender reassignment.
The UGLE was founded in London in 1717 and boasts of some 200,000 members as of 2018.