Should trans women ask permission to enter women’s space?

We never asked permission to go into women’s spaces. The only permission I had was from men, and that was after I had started. A trans ally said, women don’t object because women are conditioned to expect, and ask for, so little. I see positives in the feminist campaign against trans inclusion- women are encouraged to speak up, speak out, say “No, I do not consent”.

There are not that many of us. In 2000, it was estimated 2000-5000 had transitioned, in 2011 it was estimated 7,500, now I estimate about 50,000. One in a thousand people, and there was one ahead of me in the queue when I picked up my prescription. I am as likely to see a trans woman as anyone else is. If someone sees one of us, whether they object or not may depend on social pressure. Is it part of their self-image as a good, progressive person that they accept trans women? Have they been taught that trans women in women’s spaces is a symbol of women’s oppression? We don’t affect most people at all, most of the time, and even though our numbers are rising quickly it is from a very low base. Trans inclusion is not a real issue in most people’s lives, but it is being made a potent symbol.

Whose permission would we ask? I don’t want a referendum on trans inclusion, leave alone for any woman to have the right of veto. 57% of women agreed trans people should be able to self-identify our gender. Only 21% were against. That may be because women are conditioned into niceness.

Well, some women aren’t. Many women like caring roles. You can’t find whether this is nature or nurture, just as you can’t unbake a cake. With my nature going so much against childhood conditioning into maleness, I feel it is not just nurture, and I feel for women whose nature also does not fit. My sympathy with the trans excluders is fellow-feeling. I just wish they would not pick on trans as their feminist issue. There are more important feminist issues.

Might a cis woman resent a trans woman being there as of right? They never consented, we went in, first stealthily, now more openly. Is that the poison at the root of trans rights, an insult to women? No. The Labour party enacted the Equality Act, consolidating our rights, but from 1998 there were specific anti-discrimination regulations protecting trans people. I would say that cis women should not, because of the legitimacy of human rights treaties and tribunals. It is international law that trans women are entitled to be treated as women.

Because of the value of law in general and human rights law in particular, trans women should get a pass for being in women’s spaces. Any trans woman should be ejected if she does something objectionable such that any person would be ejected. Human rights law has to protect the weakest and most despised.

And, as Bayard Rustin wrote,

the racial problem, like most other problems which we face in our time, springs from an emotional rather than a basically intellectual source. When one is dealing with human attitudes, longsuffering, perseverance, and consideration for those who disagree with you is a very necessary step. Our aim must be to place ourselves in the position of others and to see that if we had had their experiences we would be very much as they are. Once we have faced this fact we can then struggle against injustice with that spirit which in the long run takes away the occasion for injustice.

Awaiting Liz Truss’s promised proposals on trans rights, three years after Theresa May promised them, I am moved to share paintings of St Lucy or Lucia, a martyr. There was popular devotion to her as protector of sight, as her name means “light”. Sometimes she is portrayed with a pair of eyes on a plate. I saw one picture of her with an eye removed. The palm branch is a symbol of martyrdom and victory over evil.

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