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Freemasons Reportedly Ready to Welcome Transgender Women

The world’s most enigmatic and secretive fraternity still forbids “biological women” who identify as females to apply for admission.

The male-only society has reportedly broken from three-centuries-long tradition by allowing transgender women to join the brotherhood, The Times reported, citing its new policy.

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In new guidance issued to its 200,000 members, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) stated that transgender men were encouraged to join Freemasonry, while trans women were welcome to remain members – if they underwent gender reassignment after joining the brotherhood as men.

“It is important that any situation involving gender reassignment of a Freemason is treated with the utmost compassion and sensitivity and that the individual is supported throughout the process. 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. […] A Freemason who after initiation ceases to be a man does not cease to be a Freemason,” the lodge’s policy on gender reassignment read.

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Furthermore, if a male member changed gender to become a woman, they would still be called “Brother” – simply adding their female name, for instance “Brother Jane.”

Some traditions, however, remain: cisgender women are still not allowed to join the secret society.  As a single-sex society, masonic lodges are exempt from sexual discrimination legislation on admissions criteria, but the Gender Recognition Act of 2004 and the Equality Act of 2010 prevents Freemasons from leaving transgender men and women out of the brotherhood.

As the news broke, social media erupted with confusion over the allegedly updated rules:

Some couldn’t simply understand why “biological females” who call themselves women were the only group excluded from the list of candidates who can join the fraternity:

Others poked fun at the guidance of the Grand Lodge:

Freemasonry or Masonry, founded in London in 1717, is the largest and most widely recognized brotherhood in the world. Its origins trace back to the fraternities of medieval stonemasons, who used code words and secret symbols to recognize each other’s legitimacy.

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