Essex County Council Remove 'Offensive' Image Of Transgender Person After Complaints

'Depicting trans people as men in wigs is really troublesome.'

Essex County Council has removed an online document featuring an image of a transgender person after being accused of “bigotry” – but trans people are asking why it was allowed to happen in the first place.

The illustration of a man removing a wig was used in an online copy of a consultation document on library cuts – alongside stock images of a man and a woman with their thumbs up.

The image was taken down on Thursday after a spokesperson for the council apologised for any “offence caused”.

Essex County Council.
Essex County Council.

Tabitha Adams told HuffPost UK that although she’s glad the council removed the image, it’s concerning it was deemed acceptable in the first place.

“Depicting trans people as men in wigs is really troublesome,” says the 41-year-old from Brighton. “Not only is it totally inaccurate, it also erases the existence of trans men and non-binary people.”

Adams believes the image was a result of “pure ignorance”, adding: “A lack of diversity training is probably the root cause.”

Tabby Adams.
Tabby Adams.

Dylan Gallagher, from Romford in Essex, agrees it’s symptomatic of a wider problem: “I think it’s indicative of the way trans people are represented in UK society,” he says. “There’s so much misinformation. The idea that there is one type of trans person – the ‘man in a dress and wig’ – is widespread and damaging.”

Gallagher says when a local authority gives in to this narrative, they’re telling their constituents and wider society that it’s okay to only view trans people as a man in a wig: “This adds fuel to the anti-trans agenda,” he says.


The 26-year-old says the council could’ve used a transgender symbol or the transgender flag – and should have consulted trans people beforehand.

“There are plenty of resources and charities available to people who can be bothered to look, but they’d rather take an easy route and use their own misconstrued idea of what a trans person is,” he adds. “I wish trans people were represented as we are – people who just want to exist without a constant battle for rights that we should have been given years ago.”

The image was provided by a company called Inspired Services, who work with people with learning disabilities to produce images for the government and NHS England for “easy read” documents.

It was first shared on Twitter on Wednesday by the Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) campaign – described it as “looking like institutionalised bigotry”.

Twitter users expressed their upset and disgust at the image and complained to the council. One person, Liz Miles, said it was a “shockingly negative depiction” of transgender people.

Others said it was “insulting on many levels”.

HuffPost UK has contacted Inspired Services for further comment and will update this piece if they respond.