Sex change turmoil at Antrim Borough Council
Staff at a Northern Ireland council have reportedly been threatened with disciplinary action if they don't accept a male colleague's right to start a new life as a woman.
The member of staff at Antrim Borough Council returned to work following an extended break and announced to colleagues she wanted to be referred to by her new female name.
The council worker then began to arrive at work dressed as a woman.
A council source said many of the staff had accepted their colleague's change and were referring to her by her new name.
However, the source said some were angered when council chiefs confirmed the member of staff could use female toilets and changing facilities.
The employee – who is in regular contact with members of the public through her work – is due to undergo sex change surgery next year.
Specialist training has been offered to employees by the council to educate them about the transformation being undertaken by their colleague.
"It would be fair to say that while most are absolutely fine with this, others are unhappy, deeply unhappy," said a council source.
"There have been complaints from the general public and a small number of staff on Christian grounds."
The source said staff had been told they could face disciplinary action if they do not accept the change.
"It's a difficult one for council," added the insider.
"They are trying to be politically correct about it all, but they know there are concerns.
"They know that there are still those who refuse point-blank to address this person as a woman.
"They are being asked to respect his right to live as he pleases, but feel the council is refusing to respect their rights."
A spokeswoman for the council denied claims from the source within the body that one person was already subject to disciplinary proceedings.
"As a public body, Antrim Borough Council has a legislative requirement to comply with issues relating to equality," she said.
"There is no disciplinary action relating to this matter and as it is a human resources issue, we are unable to make any further comment."