One thing that gender crits seem to forget is that many trans women have daughters - not all of us for sure, but certainly a good many. In my case, I am greedy; one way or another, I have four!
One daughter from my first marriage, two-step-daughters and an "adopted daughter" (a story for another day perhaps). For this piece, let's name them Anne, Bea, Carol, and Di because I will certainly not use their real names. Then, of course, there is my wife - Jen.
All these women accept me for who I am - they want me and indeed all other trans folk to be happy, to be ourselves.
They are huge trans allies; indeed, Bea and her hubby did much of this website's design and made many banners, images and Twitter thumbs. Bea also has a trans man friend.
Carol is a tremendous ally, too, following me on Twitter and cheering me on (and wanting to borrow my dresses, I would add) - while Di is an active trans inclusionary feminist; when I had by "bottom" surgery, Jen and Di picked me up from the hospital. Di, too has many trans and non-binary/queer friends. And Anne? - when I came out to her in tears, she just squeezed my hand so tight, telling me not to worry about it. She works in the NHS and sees and works with loads of LGBT+ people.
But I don't take their support for granted; it's a two-way street - they, as cisgender women, have rights too - a right to privacy and decency in single-sex spaces – we all deserve that right.
So to be clear here, I am not talking toilets; we all self identify going to either a male or female loo. Equally, I know of some non-binary and trans folk who will use accessible toilets, albeit some disabled folk will not be so happy with that. One non-binary friend is called 'Becks' - she is a natal female and is exceedingly pretty, but she can't bear going to the Ladies loo. Trans men are, of course, the same, hate using the Ladies loo - quite rightly they belong in the Gents. The bottom line, though, is that whichever loo we identify to use, it is exceedingly rare that there is ever a problem.
But there are far more intimate areas than toilets, open changing rooms, for example, and here things get more tricky - not all trans folk have had surgery. And then there is that video circulating concerning some alleged trans woman with her bits hanging out invading a womens space - space also occupied by a young female child.
I dont know if the contents of the video are genuine (Alleged Trans Incident Staged?); there is so much disinformation thrown out from both sides of the gender war these days. Both trans and gender-crits camps have been highjacked to some degree. The GC by the pro-lifer Christian extremists and the trans by the anti-fascists.
But for the moment, let us consider as if the video was genuine. Should that have happened - a trans woman who has not had surgery and entering a women's space and accidentally or intentionally exposing their private parts with a young girl in attendance?
And the answer is clearly NO.
Single-sex spaces are precisely that - a single-sex space, the people entering them must have the appearance of belonging to that sex.
Being 'trans' means the right to enter a single-sex space is not always automatic. Access is allowed unless the service provider has objectively identified a risk from a trans person entering the space, and any restrictions placed upon the trans person must be be "proportionate" and to achieve a "legitimate aim".
Trans folk have rights, but other people - women - my daughters, for instance, have rights, and they do not want to see male junk! Being trans doesn’t give anyone the right to act outside of the law.
Of course, trans folk should be accepted for who we are, but there are limits, and the Equality Act sets out the circumstances where legitimate discrimination is legal. And if we feel we have been unfairly discriminated against, the law is again quite clear - we can take legal action against those who discriminate if we have evidence they have acted unreasonably. Again, this only rarely actually happens.
The Equality Act works
The Equality Act works - and anyone claiming it doesn't will be hard-pressed to find a significant number of examples to prove that is not the case.
We also have laws concerning indecent exposure (Sexual Offences Act 2003), which means someone exposing their private parts with the express intention of causing "harm or distress". Trans women, just like anyone else, should be very careful about accidentally exposing their private parts because they might be accused of doing so intentionally, and this could be regarded as a criminal offence.
And that is why we have laws that are there to protect against those intent on breaking those laws. No one, whether they be trans or cis, is permitted to expose themselves or act in any unlawful manner, and if they do, then the law is there to deal with them. In no other circumstance do we treat everyone within a community as criminals or as guilty before they have committed any crime, and that also must apply here.
So in this blog, all I am asking is really for is a bit of common sense.
I know I have not touched on refuges, but as already touched upon, the service providers have the right to exclude trans women under the Equality Act exemptions. Many do accept us and have no problems in doing so.
Prisons? LGBT+ and trans people, in particular, are not safe in jail. The gender-crits seem to think trans women are a danger to women prisoners in the female estate, but info is emerging that trans women could be under threat from cis women prisoners too! So a strong recommendation to trans folk here, don't try prison service providers - it's truly shit. If you are a trans person in prison and need help, there are organisations like Bent Bars and The Prison Reform Trust that will help you.
Hospitals? Surely it depends on how we identify, taking into account what the hospital can offer and the other patients needs and feelings.
So please also remember I have daughters, tremendous trans allies, and I also have young granddaughters. The same goes for other allies, too - but they will have limits.
Single-sex spaces? I respect them.
We all need safe spaces sometimes - and all women, whether they be transgender or cisgender, have rights to be respected.
Authored by Steph (with thanks to Julie for legal input & Paul for audit) @PlaceSteph