“Women’s rights and trans rights should not be mutually exclusive. Yet they are, according to trans activists. Why is this?” Do our rights conflict, and if so is it anyone’s fault?
I would say they don’t. A few thousand trans women use women’s services and spaces, and while a few thousand women object strenuously and loudly, we can’t know what proportion of the female population don’t care, or have not thought about it. So I go to the loo or the changing room, just like anyone else. No-one’s rights are infringed.
If a woman was frightened or made uncomfortable because she saw a trans woman in a loo, I would regret that, but using that possible fear to forbid trans women to use women’s loos seems to be asserting some nebulous right to not be distressed when out in public, or not be distressed by trans women, or define who is entitled to use women’s services.
Who decides who is entitled? Society as a whole. It’s not just government: when North Carolina had its “bathroom bill”, businesses boycotted the State, and the Governor lost his re-election. Some people care a lot, and gain some influence. It’s not a matter of strict logic, making a definition of “woman” including women with a disorder of sexual development but not trans women entitled to separate spaces, but agreement. I tend to hope that many people’s view of themselves as liberal, tolerant, decent people is enhanced by their acceptance that trans women are women. We are mostly harmless, and if they get a warm glow of satisfaction that makes them feel benevolent towards us, Hooray.
No, seriously. Hooray. It’s a total pain that my right to exist depends on the good will of society, but that is the human condition. No-one can survive alone.
So, rights do not conflict. But even if they did, it would not be my fault. Since the 1960s, the British government has treated trans women as women. When I transitioned, there was a well-worn path for it. Clever lawyers had carved out rights against discrimination from the Sex Discrimination Act, and they were later entrenched in a statutory instrument specifically about trans people. I went to the GP, who referred me to a local psychiatrist, who sent me to a gender identity clinic. I arranged a date that I would transition at work, and then got my bank account, passport and driving licence in my female name. A few years later, after the Gender Recognition Act was passed, I got a gender recognition certificate.
Brave women pioneered that pathway, asserting their right to be seen as women. Doctors, seeing what their patients wanted, gave it to them, so the women went to those doctors. Trans women use women’s loos, and have done since before I was born. I would not have transitioned if no-one had gone before. Finding people who had made a go of transition gave me the courage to attempt it.
Some trans-critical feminists don’t want intact penises in women’s loos, but could tolerate post-operative trans women. But that is not good enough- before I transitioned at work, I was going about socially expressing myself female, and using loos. I had to do that, because I could not have transitioned without some experience of what it was like. And I got a bank card in my female name six months before I transitioned.
I did not do it as of right. I felt the need, so I did it. No-one told me they objected. It is not a matter of rights, logic, or strict definitions, it is a matter of rubbing along together.
Transition is a path open to us. It’s been open for decades, with tolerance from government, and few people caring enough to object. Those TERFs seeking to exclude us from women’s spaces are trying to close off that path. They are making the change.