The county council has sparked a lively discussion by including an image of a transgender person in one of its surveys.

The image was used alongside a tick box allowing people to identify their gender in a survey concerning library closures across the county.

While this might have been seen as a progressive move, the drawn character is presented with broad-shoulders and seems to be removing their wig.

The Save Our Libraries Essex campaign was quick to call the council out.

They tweeted: “So a transgender person is confused @EssexLibraries? This looks like #InstitutionalisedBigotry.”

Zoe O'Connell, who ran for the parliamentary seat of Maldon in 2015 and 2017 for the Liberal Democrats, said: "I'm trans myself and we all know the problems with funding cuts facing councils but they view expertise in these areas as somehow optional.

"These are the basics and they need to be right,

"It feels to me like Essex County Council is not as safe as it should be, because their own consultations are portraying a negative gender stereotype."

The image was provided by a company specialising in producing easy read versions government and NHS England documents.

Following the reaction received on social media, Essex County Council released a statement January 29.

They said: “Firstly we would like to reassure those concerned that the 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 Valuing People Clipart, which is used by the Government and NHS England for easy read publications.

“However, we are sorry for any offence the image has caused and we will now consider whether this image is used in the future.”

The image has since been removed.