I would normally be delighted to read an acknowledgment of “systemic male violence particularly towards women”. Men use their greater size to intimidate, bully, sexually demean and assault women. It prevents women reaching their potential. Not all men, of course, but enough to make it a serious problem, affecting all women and girls. Like trans women, cis women restrict where they will go alone because of fear of male violence.
And yet it comes in a document on gender diversity, which addresses issues around trans people, and says “We note that shared spaces such as toilets, changing and sleeping areas can cause anxieties and concerns for people. We believe that no-one should have to use shared spaces which do not feel comfortable to them… The usage of these facilities must be clearly defined and communicated and must offer choice for the individual.”
That is clearly stating that someone might reasonably fear violence from me, and should be protected from me.
The suggestion that I might be violent against someone is an extremely effective attack on me. The thought that anyone might be frightened of me distresses me: I want people not to be frightened, and especially I want not to cause fear. I want human togetherness and acceptance, and such fear would create distance and rejection.
Then, it is a threat. If I frighten people, or might be violent, that justifies defensive measures against me. I can be restricted to protect others. I know it is not justified, but those self-righteously protecting themselves or others from me may feel justified doing anything to hurt me for the greater good.
And it reminds me of characteristics I still think of as weak and unmanly, especially in this context. I know I am not violent, because I have considered the matter and thought of those times when I have been assaulted, even sexually assaulted. In a “fight or flight” situation, I freeze. It’s a primate thing, reacting to other primates’ dominance displays. I don’t hit back. “Unmanly” rather than “feminine”- I know women who resist.
In a document about trans people, don’t raise the idea that a way to deal with women’s fear of male violence is to exclude a particular group. We are at the bottom of the pecking order. If we went into women’s spaces to attack women, we would be found out, excluded, and paraded for mockery and vilification, which is so terrifying for us that only a very few of the most damaged of us might be tempted. I have no wish to assault anyone, I want consensual sexual practices. So the allegation that we might be dangerous in women’s space is like similar accusations against lesbians. As with any crime, we should assume that people are not criminal, then deal with those who are.
The document goes on to say, “We commit to continue our work in this matter, continually seeking new solutions to eradicate all forms of exclusion and to create safe space for all”. This just seems bizarre. It’s gaslighting. They might exclude me from women’s space to prevent women from feeling fear, but want to eradicate exclusion. Even justified exclusion? It’s merely confused. Will I be excluded, or not?
The Guardian has an article expressing it beautifully today: marginalising trans women at actual risk from regularly documented abuse /violence in favour of protecting hypothetical cis women from purely hypothetical abuse/violence from trans women in women-only safe-spaces strikes me as horribly unethical as well as repellently callous. Cis women might convince those trans women can’t reach.