A COUNCIL has been slammed for using a “discriminatory” image to represent transgender people in a consultation.

Essex County Council created an Easy Read version of its survey asking residents what they think of proposals to close a third of libraries in the next five years.

Complaints have been fired after an image of a person appearing to be scratching their head in confusion was used next to the transgender box for the question: Are you a man, woman or transgender?

At a closer look it appears the figure is removing a wig.

The county council said it will remove the image but the damage has been done in the eyes of campaigners.

Save our Libraries Essex campaigner Liz Miles, from Wivenhoe, complained to the council.

She said: “The clip art image is discriminatory and deeply offensive.

“It is a shockingly negative and inaccurate image, showing a person who appears to be miserable and confused, but on closer inspection is a man removing a wig.

“Its negative impact is increased by being put alongside positive photographs of a smiling man and woman.”

She said the image has caused widespread outrage on Twitter.

Bea Marshall, who provides fashion advice for transgender people, said: “Whereas it is good they are including transgender as an option, the picture itself is confusing.

“The snapshot implies if you are male or female you are psychotically happy with yourself but if you are transgender, you are either confused or about to whip off your wig.

“To imply a transgender person is confused is deeply misleading and offensive. To imply they will pull off their wig is the antithesis of trying to go about their lives not drawing attention.

“Both these options imply the council sees this much marginalised and misunderstood community as a joke.”

An Essex County Council spokesperson apologised.

He said: “This image was specifically chosen to help communicate with people with learning disabilities. It was supplied by an organisation called Inspired Services, who work with people with learning disabilities to produce images for the Government and NHS England.

“We are sorry for any offence caused. We listened to feedback and the image is being removed.”