Trans women may be excluded from women-only services. This is only lawful if it can be justified- “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” in the jargon- but may deter vulnerable trans women from trying to access such services at all, because they fear exclusion. The Women and Equalities Committee considered this.
Women Analysing Policy on Women said, There are situations such as women-only domestic and sexual violence services where vulnerable women surviving in crisis find it very difficult to feel safe. Some of these women may feel unable to access services provided by or offered jointly to all women including transwomen; this produces a clash with the rights of transwomen to be treated exactly the same as other women. It is strange that WAPOW has no website. Here is their evidence to the Committee, which perhaps is their whole purpose. Discriminators seek to hide their discrimination. Note the sweetness of the language, referring to us as “women”, though I like a space in “trans women”. The whole evidence shows their determination to exclude us from all women only services, claiming that otherwise men would lie that their gender identity was female, to gain access to women’s services, and could not be excluded.
However they admit that Many women only services welcome transwomen. People who do not discriminate have no problem.Women’s Aid said, Women’s Aid is committed to ensuring that transgender people are treated with respect and do not experience discrimination and/or harassment on the basis of their gender identity. All they need do is explain, and work to support those vulnerable women who actually object, rather than claiming some might. And treat us according to what we actually do, rather than what they fear we could, or what some cross-dressing bogeyman did years ago in another continent.
WAPOW propose separate services for us, which is never going to happen. There is not the funding for women’s services as it is, leave alone for trans women.
Here is a debate from 2010 on removing the exclusion. Barrister Claire McCann said the explanatory notes to the Act were too categorical, failing to show exclusion could be proportionate or necessary.
Evidence showed the Act now creates passing privilege: we must all fear not passing. Discriminators might find people they suspect of being trans, and question them intrusively about their gender history, breaching their human right to privacy.
What of our employment? Women’s Aid, claiming a “genuine occupational requirement”, will not employ trans women. This policy is under review. Yet Miridul Wadhwa has worked in the violence against women sector since 2005 without any problem.
The committee propose forbidding employers and service providers from excluding trans people with a gender recognition certificate. But they consider that those without should still be excluded simply for being trans, rather than for what we do, if the discriminator claims this is proportionate.
Without a GRC, I would be terrified of going to court, or of being excluded. I would simply not access services.