Does the law say that trans women are women?

There’s a comment on Audrey Ludwig’s “Blog about Boxes” that seems to me to need a short post of its own. The full comment is

Can I ask a question about something I’ve seen claimed many times (including by senior politicians) – “the law states that transwomen are women.” Does the law actually say this?

The short answer is no: the law doesn’t define the terms “transwoman” or “trans woman” at all. 

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 does change some people’s legal sex. Obviously the law can’t change anyone’s biological sex. The fact that the law can’t mess with material reality is the point Canute was making when he forbade the tide to come in. But section 9 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 has the effect that some trans women (i.e. the very small number who hold a GRC – only a few thousand to date) are deemed for most legal purposes to be women, although exceptions apply.

The Equality Act 2010 forbids discrimination (in various different contexts) on grounds of gender reassignment. That means that in those contexts where the Act has effect (employment, provision of public services, education etc.), it’s mostly unlawful to treat a person less favourably than you’d treat other people because they are proposing to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone “a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.”  If a person is somewhere on that path, it doesn’t matter whether they’ve got a GRC or not: they’re entitled anyway not to suffer discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment. There are some necessary exceptions, but in general it’s obviously right that there should be a legal prohibition against discrimination on this ground.

But it’s important to note that that doesn’t mean that trans women are entitled to be treated for all purposes as if they were biological women. If a trans woman who doesn’t have a GRC wants to access a female-only space, and is refused access, that’s not discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment, but discrimination on grounds of sex. She’s refused access not because she’s trans, but because she’s both legally and biologically male. That means she can lawfully be refused access any time it’s lawful at all to have a female-only space. In my view, it also means she almost certainly should be refused access in those circumstances. That’s because it’s only lawful at all to provide a single-sex space or service if there’s a good reason for sex segregation; but if trans women are admitted, it will cease to be a single-sex space.

If a trans woman who does have a GRC wants to access a female-only space or service, it’s still likely to be lawful to refuse, because of the exceptions that apply to prohibitions on discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment.

In short, the Equality Act does recognise that although sex is usually a bad and arbitrary reason for treating people differently, there are contexts in which biological sex matters.

97 thoughts on “Does the law say that trans women are women?”

    1. “But section 9 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 has the effect that some trans women (i.e. the very small number who hold a GRC – only a few thousand to date) are deemed for most legal purposes to be women, although exceptions apply. Where a full gender recognition certificate is issued to a person, the person’s gender becomes FOR ALL PURPOSES the acquired gender. ”

      Where a full gender recognition certificate is issued to a person, the person’s gender becomes FOR ALL PURPOSES the acquired gender.

      This is in conflict with the EHRC guidance which in practice is unworkable. In a court of law the GRA would likely defeat the EHRC guidance. Especially as a GRC is like a contract between the State and GRC holder all made in good faith.

      1. For all ‘legal’ purposes. In fact, it is not legal to ask a person whether they have a GRC. Therefore it is obvious that the requirement to treat a person with a GRC as if they are the acquired sex applies only to people who are allowed to know whether a person has a GRC (employers, public authorities, etc). The GRA does not impose a duty on private citizens to treat a male as if he were a woman because he says he is. This is just not contemplated in the law and it was clarified in Parliament during the debates on the GRA Bill that it would not be the case. About 90% of ‘transwomen’ (category that does not exist in law) do not have a GRC, so they are legally males. Even those with a GRC are legally female for the purposes of the GRA, not in social interactions not regulated by the GRA at all.

        1. Is it really not legal to ask someone if they have a GRC? It’s not legal for someone who has gained that information in an official capacity to disclose it. But as ordinary citizens surely there are questions that may be inappropriate but are not illegal (unless part of a pattern or behaviour that constitutes harassment)?

          1. There’s nothing in the law that forbids asking someone if they have a GRC, although given the potential criminal liability imposed by s.22 of the GRA for disclosing that information (if received in an official capacity), it’s understandable that people would be cautions about even asking the question.

            In truth, though, it’s quite hard to imagine a situation in which a GRC would make a practical difference to anything. If an obvious male applies for a job restricted for good reason to women – working in a rape crisis centre, for instance – does it make any difference to his suitability for appointment if he wears women’s clothes and says that he identifies as a woman? I would say clearly not. And will it make any difference to the impact of his presence on service users if he has some paperwork (which by the way no-one is allowed to mention!) that says he is legally a woman? Again, clearly not.

            If there’s a good reason to exclude males from a particular role, or service, or space, it’s all but unimaginable that a particular male’s possession of a GRC would make it appropriate to make an exception in his case.

    2. “But section 9 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 has the effect that some trans women (i.e. the very small number who hold a GRC – only a few thousand to date) are deemed for most legal purposes to be women, although exceptions apply. ”

      Where a full gender recognition certificate is issued to a person, the person’s gender becomes FOR ALL PURPOSES the acquired gender.

      Biology has no bearing whatsoever in th GRA. A person with a GRC will have a birth certificate stating the “new” sex. Making the EHRC guidance re female only space unworkable in practice.

      1. Karen Pattinson said:

        Where a full gender recognition certificate is issued to a person, the person’s gender becomes FOR ALL PURPOSES the acquired gender.

        s.9 of the Act does indeed state that. That comes just before the sections and subsections that list the exemptions to that ‘for all purposes’ such as sport, succession, pensions and benefits, sex-specific offences (eg rape).

        1. s.9 GRA 2004 will also be subject to the ordinary rule that no Parliament can bind its successor, so any later law where it appears the necessary implication of a provision requires an exception (implied partial repeal) to be granted from section 9, that exception will apply.

          There is a respectable argument that the definitions of woman and man – i.e a human female and human male respectively = in the 2010 Equality Act perform just such a function, although the poor drafting (IMHO) of sections 9(1) and 9(3) GRA 2004 make that a debatable point.

      2. Sex or gender? Your comment isn’t clear as you have used the words interchangeably. Are the words interchangeable?

    3. However, the latest guidance makes no distinction over a GRC being held and Thanks to the TERF warriors now intersex people ( with genes of both sexes and those that long transitioned and look female or male) are now excluded from single sex spaces because of the likes of Karen White and other predatory males that used being a female or trans as an excuse to abuse women.

      The law is now extremely unfair and not in accordance of what The Equality Act 2010 intended and revised in 2012 which was inclusion of such women not exclusion which is now actively going to happen.

      It creates a hostile environment now for those with a GRC who are tarred with the same brush.
      For the record my own view is if someone newly transitions they should not be competing in womens or men’s sport if it gives them an unfair advantage as HRT takes many years to sap the strength and does sap if you have an intersex condition – namely you could never have had children at all even without HRT and have the diagnosis of it as well.

      We are heading for a cultural war against Transexual women and intersex who are not transgender and don’t identity as such but have been ruined by the self identification movement and bred such hostility that having happily co-existed with grudging acceptance those people now find they have now at all.

      1. Intersex people have nothing whatsoever to do with transgenderism. They have a genetic condition either of visible biology or invisible chromosomes that causes them problems. Despite this 98% of intersex people are either male or female.

      2. This war and hostility was not created by those you are deeming TERFs but those who clearly don’t give a shit about boundaries and are determined to use the most egregariously irrelevant comparisons to justify that their views are similar to racism, sexism and other actual horrors of human history.

        Who are you to be the arbiter of my safety?

        Tarred by the same brush -> go after those who give you a bad name then, instead of asking women to accept the possibility of being assaulted. You could start by moving your campaign to Stonewall, which publicly supports the bullying and coercion of lesbians who have sexual boundaries then those with penises do not like.

        No other group on earth is being asked to disregard their sexual preferences which DO include race, age, and looks. For good reason too, since it’s their freedom and therefore their preference

  1. That’s very interesting, thank you. In reference to this line: “a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.”. Can this include just wearing gender typical clothes? Does “the process” have to involve medication, surgery etc?

    1. It’s not very clear what “a process … for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex” is supposed to mean, and so far as I am aware there is as yet no case law to tell us. But what is clear is that it’s not meant to be limited to medical treatment with hormones or surgery. Presumably what’s intended is matters of dress, grooming etc. The extreme position would be that all you have to change is your pronouns in order to be able to assert that you have the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. A more moderate position would be that you have to be genuinely seeking to live as a member of the opposite sex, including a genuine (even if not necessarily 100% successful) attempt to “pass” as such.

      In any event, it’s worth noting two things:

      1. You don’t have to modify your body in any way to claim the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.

      2. You don’t have to modify your body in any way to apply for (and be granted) a Gender Recognition Certificate.

      1. The original reason NOT to require that a person undergo surgery in order to be protected was that some people would be unable to undergo surgery because of underlying health conditions. The assumption, though, was that they would WANT to if they possibly could. Now, of course this wording in the act is used by men with beards who have done absolutely nothing to their physical appearance but have simply asserted that they are women.

        1. Having experienced discrimination against me for saying at work, inter alia, that you can’t change sex and the Equality Act doesn’t cover gender identity (Employment Tribunal to come in June next year), I’ve thought quite a bit about this.

          I think the Equality Act does expect something much more than change of clothes or name.

          That’s partly because (A) these would be attributes of gender not sex (many activists are therefore hoist on their own petard). Quite what non-physiological attributes there are of sex, I don’t know. Perhaps hormonal or chromosomal (might there be a gene therapy to change sex someday? Was the Act framed to cover possible future treatments?). But since sex is biological, the attributes must be too (and “sex” in an Act will have it’s natural language, biological, meaning unless otherwise specified).

          It’s also partly because (B) they hardly qualify as a process – the act seem to envisage something quite significant. It would be nonsensical to suggest someone could intend to change clothes and be protected until that was done- you’d just do it. Surely intent is included so that someone could ask for time off work in advance of medical treatments?That you intend to undergo a process means no biological-level change is needed for someone to be protected, but that level of change is still in mind – it must be intended.

          So it seems to me that only changing clothes/name/pronouns with no intention of anything else is not covered by the Equality Act protections. I.e. transsexuals are protected, but gender identity in general is not.

        2. The original 2004 reason might not be relevant anymore, as in 2017 this specific stipulation – that surgery can not be required for changing legal sex – was made by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Garcon and Nicot v France.

          (It also says that other requirements such as diagnosis can exist).

      2. The ‘living as a woman’ presupposes norms, and is met with a sign in the ‘chain of signifiers’ which relies on there being a background of norms to fulfil its purpose, to disrupt them and exert its own dominion.

      3. It is not clear from your comments how one could “pass” as a women. You may have some preconceived ideas of what a women looks like. I suspect there are many lesbian women who would disagree with you idea as to what “passes” as a woman.

      4. I understand people with dysphoria wanted to change their body to reflect more the gender they feel they should be. What I don’t understand is why any man can say he’s a woman and not make any changes to his body but then get a card to say hes a woman. You ask any straight man if he starts dating a woman buying her gifts, taking her out and kissing her only to find out she has genitals what he’s going to do to that person when he finds out he’s been tricked. It also opens up abuse of vulnerable of disabled women and young girls forced to undress and be bathed by a fully intact man. It seems very wrong to me.

  2. I’d be interested in where specifically, and also, if not allowed in a space, where they are supposed to go. While not agreed or disagreeing with any views expressed. I would agree that a trans woman has not had Gender reassignment surgery, they should not change in an open female changing room. However, as long as they live as a woman, they should be able to access the women’s changing area and change in a cubicle. They should also (as long as they are living as a woman full time) be able to access ladies toilets, as they use cubicles.

    1. Thank you for your comment. There’s plenty of scope for debate about what should actually be done about single-sex spaces – I have confined myself in this blog to explaining what I understand the law to be.

      1. Well, quite. But come to that – what are these “other” characteristics of sex mentioned in section 7, those that aren’t physiological?

      2. Good question. In practice, “living as a woman” appears to refer to conformity with consumerist gender stereotypes: dressing in women’s clothes, wearing high heels, using cosmetics etc. Even using surgery to make bodies conform better to male sexual fantasies.

        This neglects conpletely the fact that many women have not worn a skirt or high heels or cosmetics for decades. We prefer practicality and comfort. And wouldn’t dream of having surgery to make us more acceptable to anyone.

        We don’t live AS women: we ARE women. With all the biological problems and pains that entails.

        The narcissistic fantasy of living “as” a woman might be legally supported, but cannot make it real.

        1. If a man suddenly says he wants be a woman. I feel like a woman in my heart I’m a woman. And every doctor agrees (mainly men) might I add, and then theres big pharmaceutical industry they decides to cash in on this, we can change hormones. How the he’ll does a male doctor know what it feels like to be a woman, I’m a woman that has endometriosis and ive had a lot of surgeries and hrmone treatments I have been giving over a 25 years period, it has left my bones destroyed, my spine is crumbling I have wawanted die from the pain and the side effects, and now doctors, pharmaceutical companies and government what to put children on hormones blockers and give them irreversible surgeries. As a mother I’m am terrified for future chchildrenif a man just put a dress, wig Nd lipstick on is he not just a cross dresser

    2. I don’t speak for all men, obviously, but as far as I’m concerned, they are welcome to use the spaces assigned for those of their sex. But whatever, this is not a problem for women to solve.

      1. I don’t want to be changing in the same space as a former man. These are my rights as a woman and this is being totally ignored. People talk about discrimination against trans people but what about discrimination against women being forced to accept this. As a woman I don’t feel comfortable but no one seems to care about my comfort as a woman only the comfort of someone who is having gender reassignment. Where is the logic. Just give them their own space.

        1. A transgender woman is not a former man. She has always been a girl, then a woman, but in what she always felt was the wrong body.

          1. Being a girl or a woman is an embodied experience. We are one of the two sexes from conception, differentiated by gestational week 7, and encoded as F or M in every cell of our body, and even in DSD/Intersex conditions are still either one or the other. It is fallacious to assume that developmental stages, where people are affected by many, or always permanent.

          2. How on earth do you know? If they destransition can you then say they were never a transgender woman? By your token the whole issue becomes a pointless sematic abstraction.
            A transgender woman never becomes a biological women – and therefore by a reasonable definition, held by many, never becomes a woman at all (though reasonable people will accommodate them in their preferred gender). But to say they were never a man – that’s strange, what if they happily lived as a man and sired children?

          3. If this is the case what has a transgender woman transitioned from?

            If you think a trans woman was born a girl then on what basis would they be trans?

            I was born a girl can i then claim to be a trans woman? If not surely its because im female- and that the pre requisite to being a trans woman is to not female, but male.

            Just as the pre requisite for being a clothes horse is to be an inanimate airer not a quatriped mammal of the equestrian class.

            Which begs the question what is a woman if not an adult human female? How do you define woman to include male women and female women? Take away biological difference and what is left other than a difference in clothing styles and stereotypes of interests and personality traits?

          4. Biologically a transwoman will always be male. It is impossible to change your sex, gender yes, biological sex – no.

          5. You are just playing with words to make communication more difficult. What you call “women who always felt they were in the wrong body” others just call “men”. When these men change their appearance to look like women others call them “trans women”. It would ease communication if we all used the same simple language but if you must abandon conciseness just to use more words to say the exact same thing don’t expect everyone to walk in lock step with you

          6. No. His perception or ideology of what he imagines a woman is, not the same thing, what he or she choose to be real to them or their reality is not fact it’s not true. Because i am a woman and as a woman not a cis woman, just a woman I don’t have to believe their reality, I believe in trut, there is only male and female. Unless you are born with both male and female parts, these are the people I support, trans people can be happy living their own reality but I don’t have to acknowledge what there reality is. I am still happy that trans people are living who they want and every human deserves to be treated with respect and to be happy, woman have fought for 100 years for equality, equality for women now looks like this, trans people don’t like the word woman, girl or lady, woman are slowly becoming excluded in order for trans people to be included. Our language is changing even in maternity hospitals, even though only a woman. A Female can become pregnant and give birth, FACT. I don’t dislike or wish a human to come to harm. Bullied or discrimination. God created man and woman that cannot be changed, every single human born is either born male or female

          7. That is your opinion but you state it as if it were a fact. What mandate do you hold that entitles you to impose your opinions upon others or assert them as facts?

    3. They could fight for their own spaces? Just like women did, and continue to do. Why should we have to accommodate? How about men accommodating the GNC males amongst their own cohort? I don’t care what a man thinks in his head, my own three little girls and all the other women who do not want a male in their space, should not be compelled to bear that burden.

      1. Absolutely. I have no problem whatsoever sharing toilets with transwomen (or transmen for that matter).

        I don’t remember any earlier campaign by trans activists to be accepted into male toilets before they started demanding access to female facilities. But this shows it’s maybe more about validation and not ‘convenience’ per se.

        1. Does not matter if you have no problem, without a full GRC it is against the law for a trans male or trans female to enter the incorrect sex’s bathroom , this is to protect children and vulnerable adults against sexual predators of the opposite sex.

          1. Sexual predators rarely use bathrooms to abuse women and girls. As I taught my daughters, most women and girls are attacked by men that they know, either in their own home or in the home of the attacker. We need to educate and alert women and girls to that risk.

      2. Gender dysphoria is an internationally recognised condition and also has an internationally recognised treatment pathway that helps to alleviate it. I can’t think of any other condition were people are so unsympathetic to its effects and in fact are often hostile. A trans woman would be unlikely to want to be accommodated by men, whether or not men would accepted her. My two daughters probably would not want a male in their space either, but they have the empathy and understanding to accept that trans women need their acceptance.

        1. Perhaps you should warn your daughters about being too kind and understanding. I live not far from where a trans identified young man ‘Katie’ Dolatowski attacked a young child in toilet cubicles on two separate occasions. One of the girls escaped being raped by punching him and running off. Thank goodness she wasn’t kind and understanding. And Andrew Miller was able to kidnap a girl because he was dressed as a woman and she trusted him. Why should the comfort, safety and privacy of your girls come second to the feelings of a man?

      3. I absolutely agree with you as a woman in her 80’s who has given birth to four children. it comes down to the genitalia, men have a penis we have a vagina. I do not want to go to the women’s toilet knowing that a transgender woman is there who still has a male appendage. Trans women who no longer have male gentialia would not be a problem and of course it would be safer for them. Trans woman who still have their male appendage should go elsewhere, or a third toilet should be available for transjender women.
        It simply some down to women’s rights to use a public conveyance knowing that there are no males on the premises. I would like it known that I have no problem with male or female transjender people at all. I just want to feel safe in a place that has always traditionally been safe for women, and the definition of a woman is one who has a womb, and a vagina. Not a penis and testicales. Maybe we just need a third toilette that is solely for the use of all transjender people or all people transjender or not. But a woman’s toilet is just that for a woman who has a vagina not a penis

  3. I was pointed to this yesterday… Enforcing the Equality Act: the law and the role of the Equality and Human Rights Commission – Women and Equalities Committee – House of Commons, published 30 July 2019:

    This states, 7Balancing rights in single-sex services

    Box 5: Single-sex services under the Equality Act 2010

    Exceptions allowing services to be provided only to women (or only to men)

    The first two relevant exceptions (Schedule 3, Paragraphs 26 and 27) allow service providers to provide separate services for men and women, or to provide services to only men or only women in certain circumstances. The symmetrical nature of the ban on sex discrimination means without these exceptions it would be illegal, for example, to hold women-only sessions at a leisure centre or a new fathers’ support group at a nursery.

    Exception allowing single sex services to discriminate because of gender re-assignment

    The third exception (Schedule 3, paragraph 28) allows providers of separate or single-sex services to provide a different service to, or to exclude, someone who has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. This includes those who have a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), as well as someone who does not have a GRC but otherwise meets the definition under the Equality Act 2010.

    Application of this exception must be objectively justified as a means of achieving a legitimate aim. An example given in the explanatory notes to the Act is that of a group counselling service for female victims of sexual assault where the organisers could exclude a woman with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if they judge that clients would be unlikely to attend the session if she was there.

    Schedule 23, paragraph 3 of the Equality Act 2010 also allows a service provider to exclude a person from dormitories or other shared sleeping accommodation, and to refuse services connected to providing this accommodation on grounds of sex or gender reassignment. As with paragraph 28 and other exceptions under the Equality Act, such exclusion must be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

    I hope the EHRC will be publishing crystal clear advice in the near future.

    1. I query as to why the onus should be on the service provider. That is a failure of the legislation. The person demanding the right and the access should bear the burden of proof.

        1. The problem with this is that there is, in reality, no such thing as “fully transitioned”. A man can take hormones and have his genitals reconstructed so that they look more like a woman’s genitals, but that doesn’t make him a woman: it makes him a man with female hormones and surgically altered genitals.

          “Gender affirmation” surgery is essentially cosmetic: it changes appearances, but it can’t literally make a man into a woman or a woman into a man.

          1. hmmmm, terms again – gender affirmation, means surgery to affirm the gender I presume, surgery which alters a body to look more like the body associated with the gender they have chosen – but you’ve then you’ve used the terms man and woman, which are now increasingly taken to refer to gender – so although correct you can’t turn a man into a woman through surgery, it is possible for a man to become a woman (though, as I suspect you meant, it’s not possible for a male to become a female through surgery, or whatever means)

    2. What is the legal definition of ‘female’? Is an organisation who advertises as ‘female only’ but includes ‘self identifying females’ acting legally?

  4. Thank you Naomi, this is really clear and useful.

    I think it also needs to be recognised and communicated that the process of “refusing access” is not an individualised decision but an overall policy — whether in self-service type single & separate sex services (changing rooms and toilets) or places like hospital wards, dormitories and hostels where people book in. Policies and signage should make clear who is allowed to go where (and where there are alternative spaces which are not sex segregated).

    Men are not allowed into women’s changing rooms-by the general mechanism of the sign on the door, and the understanding of everyone to respect the sign — in discrimination lawyer terms you may see this as an individual being “refused access” but in practical day-to-day terms it is a general rule -just as the inside of public building are no-smoking areas: every individual who would like to smoke indoors is affected by this but it doesn’t mean every individuals should try it on until someone tells them to put it out.

    Currently we have doctors, and lobby groups telling male people who identify as women that they can and should be trying to ignore the sign (or ‘expand the bandwidth’ of what it means) and use women’s spaces unless they are “refused access” on an individual basis, rather than recognising that the sign means they are refused access.

    I think that it needs to be made clear to people attending gender identity clinics and as part of the GRC process, and to those delivering training to organisations and into schools etc… that using services provided for the opposite sex is not a right, and is not appropriate.

  5. I agree. My blog post set out my view of the law, but I also want to write a bit about what I think is reasonable.

    As you’ve written elsewhere, single sex spaces are a matter of consent. A woman who uses a women-only changing room consents to be in a state of undress in the company of other women. If that space is invaded by a person with a male body, her consent is overriden. She is likely to find that upsetting and humiliating, and reasonably so. Taboos about modesty are deeply-felt.

    What some male commentators on this subject fail to grasp is what a rigorous training in fear women receive from an early age. We are taught that men are a source of danger. We are told it is our responsibility to keep ourselves safe from the ever-present risk of male violence. We learn to limit our freedoms. We try not to be out alone late at night. We learn to be alert to the possibility of being followed; not to make eye contact; to shut down drunken attempts to chat us up without provoking male rage; to walk in the middle of the road so that it’s harder to ambush us from the shadows; to conduct a lightning risk assessment of every other passenger on the night bus; to clutch our keys in one hand in case we need a weapon; to carry a pepper spray, or a personal alarm.

    We are systematically trained in fear.

    And then we are told that we must lay aside the fears we have obediently learned at a moment’s notice if a person with a male body asserts a female identity. Well, fear doesn’t work like that.

    1. Only a man would not understand this. It continues to astound me that female trans ‘allies’ are able to put their ingrained fear aside in order to appear kind and supportive. What is wrong with them?

      1. Maybe because we don’t want to perpetuate the myth that trans women are dangerous and will attack people in toilets for no reason, or are perverts pretending to be women so they can go into women-only spaces. Those are offensive stereotypes that are not backed up by any evidence.

        The underlying problem with ‘the fear’ is that the government and society make it a woman’s responsibility to keep herself safe rather than creating an impossible environment for men (or any person) who conduct all of the aforementioned acts of disrespectful to violent behaviour.

        People who want to conduct such acts against women will violate social boundaries like women-only spaces to do so, whether they are trans or not. You don’t need to be trans to do horrible things, and trans people are no more likely to do such horrible things that anyone else.

        1. I’m not aware of convincing evidence that trans people are more likely to do horrible things than anyone else – but male people undoubtedly are. A man can no more move himself out of the half of the population statistically much more likely to be violent by the performative words “I am a woman” than he can make himself less likely to suffer prostate cancer or to die of Covid by the same method.

          1. You realise that a transsexual person who has had reassignment surgery has a much, much lower risk of prostate cancer and a lower risk of dying from COVID due to a protective effect from Oestrogen. Conversely the risk of dying from breast cancer is much higher.

        2. The evidence of offending is clear that trans women have the same patterns of offending as males ie they are more likely to commit acts of violence, which differs from patterns of offending by women. Asserting you have a different sex doesn’t make it true.
          It is true that very few men actually assault other people. However, what we do know is when you have people in a vulnerable situation, you attract those who want to abuse them, and they will manipulate the system to gain access. Women are particularly vulnerable and the law is clear for example, only a male can rape another person. So we put in protections to minimise the risk, and one of those protections is single sex places. My sister has a severe learning disability and as such she is very vulnerable. She is in care and only women are permitted to care for her. That is right and I would be suspicious of any male who did not recognise her need, regardless of whether he identified as a woman. or not.

          1. What on earth are you on about only a male can rape another person, that is complete and utterly wrong, plenty of women have been convicted of rape and what about mother’s that rape their own children. Are you saying that if she rapes her daughter nobody was raped? And if she rapes her son that actually regardless of his age he raped his mother? That is completely illogical. It’s silly stereotypes about behaviour like that causing alot of the issues in this type of discussion.

            Plus in reply to an earlier comment about trans women fighting for space like women did. Trans people only make up 1percent of the population how do you suppose they would accomplish getting their own space in every town city and village across the country, so again that is an extremely narrow and insensitive view.

            Also it’s been mentioned about women’s fears. What about trans fears? Do trans women not also fear living daily life, do they not fear been mugged, raped, beaten and and murdered simply for their gender. One could also argue that it’s actually worse for trans folk because of their small number within society, especially when those of their own gender are unwilling to support them from attack from their birth sex.

            What do you women in this discussion expect trans women to do exactly, are you just saying stop playing woman and live as your assigned sex? Or are you saying please just go away and commit suicide as this world does not need or want you. Because if you not willing to accept everyone of your own gender then that is what you expecting, as that will be the only option left for true female gendered trans women, as was proven in the torture experiments of the past, where trans women were attempted to be corrected and alot of them died before any correction as they called it could be made

        3. So it’s now 2023, and I’m on twitter and some people kindly post pictures of men wearing dresses and makeup doing disgusting things in women’s toilets and shop changing rooms. It’s difficult to comprehend, but please believe me when I say that going around dressed as a woman and invading our spaces is obviously a sexual fetish for some men.

      2. I suspect, for many, it’s actually a fight or flight type reaction, only in this particular scenario it’s ‘freeze’ or ‘fawn’.

    2. Same for many men.

      What a lot of women need to start talking about, because it’s conspicuous by its absence, is that men don’t want women in their toilets, changing rooms, hospital wards, etc, either.

      This should be a common cause, but Identity Politics is, as always, dividing and conquering….

    3. I couldn’t agree more. The burden is always on women.

      Everyone should have the right to privacy, dignity, safety and fair competition but not at the decimation of women’s rights and needs. Third gender neutral spaces appear to be the only solution.

      1. I personally do not think that there is much privacy or dignity in the public spaces that we have to use. I think they are cheaply constructed and seldom take privacy or dignity into account. I think there needs to be a rethink of how those spaces are supplied. Gender neutral spaces could be a solution. They would have the much needed advantage of providing a space for non-binary people too. However, they would have to the only spaces available, as trans man or a trans woman would not want want to use them if there were also female only and male only spaces.

  6. I hear about a ‘case by case basis’ all the time: you may have covered this even if in not quite those words.

    It’s often taken to mean each time an individual presents wishing to do something, but I’ve read it applies to organisations rather than to people. So a women’s hospital ward is the case, not the TW who says they want a bed on it. Is that right?

  7. Zia Faith Cruz asks (above) “You realise that a transsexual person who has had reassignment surgery has a much, much lower risk of prostate cancer and a lower risk of dying from COVID due to a protective effect from Oestrogen. Conversely the risk of dying from breast cancer is much higher.”

    That may be so (I don’t know), but it misses the point. I wasn’t talking about the effects of any particular medical treatment, but about the effect of a simple claim to be of the opposite sex.

  8. Considering the fact that trans women are actually women, it naturally follows that there should be no problem with them using “women only” spaces. If anybody does have an issue with this then they are saying that they do not believe trans women to be women and are therefore transphobic.

    I remember similar arguments levelled against gay people in the 70’s and 80’s. That gay men “weren’t real men”, and gay women “weren’t real women”. This discrimination needs to stop.

    1. So it is no problem for a male serial sexual assaulter to identify as a woman, so that he can be transferred to a womens prison and, with the blessing of the law, continue to sexually assault vulnerable women, exposing himself in the showers, complaining that he was being discriminated against when asked to shower on his own and there was nothing the women could do about it? I think most women know that this is not the norm, but, sadly there are a number of men who will take advantage of gender self-identifying for their own gratification and that is why women are desperately trying to protect women-only spaces. The conundrum is difficult, women could claim that, by denying us a right to women-only spaces the transperson is being cisphobic if transpeople are going to claim that we are transphobic. I do fail to understand why, if a man says he wants to live as a woman, he still wants to have a beard, dress as a man etc. I CAN understand not going through the surgery, due to the pain etc. but surely if you feel you are in the wrong body, you would want to take the hormones to change your outward appearance. The changing room problem is also difficult. I think most women would have little issue with transwomen using a female changing room providing they used a cubicle if they had not had surgery. It is when they parade themselves naked in communal areas that people are alarmed esp if there are children in the room- and tbh, most women don’t get their knickers off in communal areas, – have you watched us get changed at the swimming pool, struggling under towels to get our knickers? A sensible debate is required, and labelling all women who would prefer to protect women-only spaces for those that are biological women and those that claim that transwomen should not be able to compete against biological women are transphobic, does not help anyones case and tends to divide rather than unite.

      1. I’m genuinely shocked by the number of false assumptions in your reply. Trans women are not sexual predators walking around toilets and changing rooms looking to attack people. The truth is quite the opposite when you consider the danger that trans women face on a daily basis with regards to violence and sexual assaults. The truth is that transgender people are some of the most vunerable and marginalized people in society, caused to a greater degree by innacurate and irresponsible claims levelled against them. In addition to this, the vast majority of trans women seek hormone therapy and even GRS surgery to enable them to live as their true selves. In this modern society we require understanding and tolerance for vunerable minority groups, we should not seek to unfairly villify them.

        1. You completely fail to understand that this as a safeguarding issue @Joanne Tierney.

          Trans women are of course not all sexual predators, in the same way that teachers are not all sexual predators. But all teachers are required to undertake DBS checks, which is universally accepted as a proportionate and sensible safeguarding measure to protect the children and young people with whom they work. This is not least because children are vulnerable, and those who do wish to abuse and exploit them may be drawn to the profession or order to exploit them (as has happened numerous times, especially in the past when such safeguarding measures were not in place. See also priests in the Catholic Church).

          Banning male-bodied people from eg women’s changing rooms is, in just the same way, a sensible and proportionate safeguarding measure – to protect women from the small number of male-bodied people who would otherwise seek to exploit women’s vulnerability. These may be trans women (who seem to have a similar offending rate to men) or simply men who claim to identify as female with the intention of gaining access to women’s safe spaces to attack, harass and abuse women.

          If trans women do not feel safe (or, indeed, are objectively unsafe) changing in a men’s changing room, or in men’s toilets or prisons, then the issue lies with men! Why should women have to budge up and shut up (#NoDebate, what a n outrageous f***ing disgrace) and put their own safety at risk as a result?!

          Perhaps you could educate yourself a bit more with the following examples of trans women committing abhorrent attacks on women and children.

          Karen White, a transgender prisoner who sexually assaulted two inmates at a women’s jail and had previously raped two other women:

          Transgender woman sexually assaulting young girls in women’s toilets

          …and when convicted sent to a women’s detention centre:
          Trans sex attacker sent to female hostel

          Jessica Brennan convicted of multiple counts of child rape and sexual assault:
          Jessica Brennan: ‘Vile’ paedophile jailed for 22 years

          Depressingly there are many other examples.

          Of course these repugnant individuals are not representative of trans people generally any more than Harold Shipman is representative of GPs, but that’s not the point!

          1. The changing room and toilet thing is interesting – it sort of assumes that a Transwomen is probably attracted to women I presume, thus a sexual threat to women and young girls in the toilet/changing room. Do women feel the need, and men I guess, to have only same sexual preference in changing rooms/toilets? I’d imagine there have been incidents of girls or women being abused/lusted by lesbian women? If so, then if you knew they were lesbian and being potentially sexually attracted to female bodies in changing rooms, would that be an issue. I have a feeling males getting undressed with an openly gay male could cause some to feel vulnerable/uncomfortable. The safe space scenario presumably assumes not only same-sex but same sexual orientation??

      2. I agree with some of your points their and I myself am a trans woman. It is not wrong at all for you to want to protect these spaces asking as it is under certain conditions, clearly a woman with a blatent thick beard is very highly potentially a man just playing at been of the female gender. And should not be allowed in the space. And if a trans woman has not had surgery then using a cubicle should be allowed that makes perfect sense. And thankyou for that comment.

        Also you should not have been called transphobic there.

        But in this discussion I think the rights of all women should be discussed more instead of segregating cis from trans, yes cis women are at risk and have immense problems in life, but let’s not forget so do real trans women as well who have to deal with some of the same issues aswell as issues of transphobic and dysphoria.

        1. Hi Katy, Interested in your post about women committing rape. In UK law only a man can commit rape as it is defined as penetration of mouth, anus or vagina with a penis. Women can only commit sexual assault (i.e. with fingers, an instrument) which doubtless is just as traumatic and maybe the law should be expanded, but currently that’s how it is.

      3. I agree with your comment but I still would feel uncomfortable being in a state of undress with a transwoman (presenting as a woman or not) in the women’s changing area or WCs, even if cubicles are available. Natal women consent to being vulnerable and in a state of undress in women only changing rooms etc, that consent is denied
        if biological males have access to these safe spaces.

        Gender neutral spaces appear to be the only solution that will accommodate everyone’s needs.

        1. What’s at the core for single sex safe spaces?

          Is it the vulnerability of sexual assault or sexual voyeurism?

          If so, it actually just using the blunt, and arguably homophobic use of sex or indeed gender to determine the sexual preference of those individuals?

          What I’m getting at is would you rather undressing in a single sex space with lesbian or a gay man – where one is potentially sexually attracted to you, and thus a potential sexual predator, and one is totally disinterested in your female body?

          Just musing.

          I suspect what is behind the trans exclusion from single sex spaces is down to the belief that they (transwomen) are either 1) not really women and pretending for sexual gratification and abuse potential or 2) they are presumed to be have a sexual preference of the minority of women (i.e. lesbian, having previously been a heterosexual male) and so attracted to women sexually, and thus a threat, but a threat in the way that lesbian women are seen not to be a threat.

          Or are lesbians a threat to heterosexual females in single sex spaces as well?? Would heterosexual females feel more comfortable undressing in heterosexual female spaces? I don’t know.

    2. I disagree. A person’s sexual orientation is not the same as a person’s biological sex. Transwomen are males who identify as women, that does not suddenly make them a biological woman. They of course deserve understanding and respect like all of us and their needs should be accommodated but not at the detriment of natal women’s rights and needs.

      Your statement that if a person does not believe a transwoman is a woman then they’re transphobic is untrue and unfair. With respect trans is an ideology – you can’t force someone to believe in something they don’t agree with and they have a right to make that choice. This of course does not mean those who are trans should not be treated with respect, we all deserve that.

      1. It all depends how you classify gender. Is gender the body you were born with, the biological sex assigned at birth, in other words the physiology of a person? Or is gender governed by the brain? Well I would argue that as seen as the physiology is just governed by the DNA passed on from parents and like any genetic condition it has the potential to mutate, form incorrectly, develop disorders and complications, and the vrain is actually the driving force, the main computer that governs a person after birth, that it is the brain that is more important than what sex you were born and what body you happen to have developed. So given that then I would argue that gender is the identity we have, if like myself from a very early age you are unable to exist within your own skin that without severe transition every day you wake up and your entire skin feels foreign to you, a d it causes you so much distress that you just want to take a knife and slice that skin off of you, and if that not possible then suicide is a real possibility, then something clearly went wrong during the gestation period that caused the identity of your computer and your hardware to form differently, and this means you are whatever gender your brain identifies as, now in a binary gender society if born male this makes your gender female. Which in turns makes you a woman inside of a males body. That is what gender dysphoria means. It does not mean a man wanting to transition to a been a woman, that is a misconception, it means there is a female (woman’s identity) caught or trapped inside a male biological body, and that this condition is causing grave dysphoria to the very person they are. That is gender dysphoria it is a physical ailment and not a psychological impairment. So anyone in that position like myself is a woman if trans feminine or a man if trans masculine. As for those who claim to be trans just to get special privileges and access then I would argue no if their actions appear wanting. And they clearly committing a crime, that is out of order and on them. But that does not mean that those who are true trans folk should pay the price for what mentally ill crinimalistic people do in their disguises. That is blatent discrimination against those who truly have gender dysphoria and is also against their human rights, it is a basic right, innocent until proven guilty, don’t discriminate please people

        1. Gender is whatever the law says it is. Sex is determined by biology and cannot be changed.
          Just as a white man can change his citizenship to African but not his race to Black, a man can change his gender to woman but he cannot change his sex.

          A “woman inside a man’s body” is just a metaphor for how someone feels because there is no evidence this is literally the case. People assuming established metaphors to be literal truths is a modern disease spread by ignorant social media users to the immature and the vulnerable.
          We would first need to prove that a person exists outside of their body e.g. that there is a self and a body, but what is this self if not something merely generated by the body (the brain)? It is simply a SENSE of self; an awareness of ourselves as a person with a body that generates feelings about ourselves. And in the case of dysphoria, the brain generates a self that makes the person uncomfortable or worse; sometimes it can only be alleviated by dressing unconventionally, appearing like the opposite sex, and at other times even this is not enough, only surgery on the body can help the sufferer. And for a fully grown adult, this is their choice to make and their risk, there are no guarantees, but for children and young people, surgery and even the route to surgery must be regarded as abuse, since not every adult with dysphoria requires surgery and many who do regret it. So children and young people with dysphoria should be encouraged to dress as they please, but not to do anything potentially irreversible before they are adults.

          As responsible adults, we also need to clarify the meaning of “identity”. The brain does not “identify” as anything. If from a young age we are all told we are all women, then the brain will, at first, accept that. Just as the brain inititally accepts the ethnicities we are told we are and the names our parents gave us. This is because identities are a social construct. They are a way for us to be identified and categorised by the society in which we live and nothing more than that. So when a person with dysphoria begins to reject their “gender identity”, they are rejecting a social label … not what their brain “identifies as” because it is the brain that is behind the rejection.

          This misunderstanding of what an identity is fuels much of the unnecessary paranoia felt by and enforced upon young people with dysphoria. As responsible adults we should be reassuring them that social labels are not always precise and that children should dress in a way that makes them comfortable (without feeling pressured by nonsensial identity politics) and a constant awareness that their feelings will change and grow as they age. It is this failure of adults, if anything, that leads to suicide, as well as replacing our education system with social media, to the extent that youngsters cannot even understand the difference between metaphors and literal truths.

  9. Can members of the public object to a male being in female spaces? Could they legally ask staff to remove that male, call the police even to get him removed? Where does the law stand on that? I don’t think any male at all should be in female spaces irrespective of how he identifies.

    1. I agree, it is a woman’s perception that counts. It is not enough for a woman just to feel safe in a space designated for females only, she must feel comfortable also. A man who “identifies” as a woman should be able to respect this. Men never have to worry about feeling safe and comfortable in their own areas. This is because women are a vulnerable group and their perceptions must be respected in law. I don’t need to explain how and why women are vulnerable in a way that men are not, since history, biology and statistics has done it for me.

      1. Transwomen are at risk of murder or serious violence when accessing mens’ areas.
        Ask a man of your acquaintance to dress like a transwomen and access a mens’ space without the usual stupid bravado when a man puts on female clothing. It is not funny and it can result in the man of your acquaintance landing in hospital. I believe your comment to be thoughtless.
        Also most toilets and changing areas in shops are single cubicle. I assume you aren’t aware of this fact.
        A pre-op transwoman would almost certainly NEVER enter an open womens’ changing room because it would be too embarrassing for her.
        I know of one case where a political activist changed his name to a female one and tried to enter a women’s bathing club. Apart from immediate publicity, the idiot now has to live for a year with a female name. Serves him right!
        The monies invested in reversing the human rights gains of trans people in society are huge. Against this are just the trans people, and well, they are an easy target to hit lgbt, the “loony” left, socialism, increase hatred of others and cause more fracturing of society.
        I thought the article was clearly explained.

  10. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) allows a trans person to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), which, if granted, then allows them to change the sex marker on their birth certificate.

    Changing their birth certificate sex marker, affords trans people an equal dignity to everyone else and means that as trans people progress through life, their true gender will be recorded when they travel, work, marry and die.

    The GRA therefore has nothing to do with rights to access single sex spaces which are conferred by the Equalities Act 2010.

    Even so, someone with the protected characteristic of “Gender Reassignment” can still be excluded from single-sex services if it is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.

  11. This is my first post, so here goes. I have been a feminist all my life, having my teenage years in the 1970’s I had to live with misogynistic idiots views which would usually include slurs against the gay community. I have grown up with the idea that everyone has the right to be whatever they want to be. But, I am a woman, and although I feel compassion for people who feel uncomfortable in the body they are in it doesn’t give them the right to hijack my gender.
    Why do so many trans people think its okay to bully and intimidate their way into womanhood? Are they any different to a male who uses sexual discrimination against women? I will support any human who wishes to change gender, but they are transgender, and should be honest about the fact.
    I did hope that once we got to the 21st century the fight for women’s rights would be over, but apparently not, women in sport are facing discrimination by trans women who have the build and strength of males, who probably don’t have what it takes to make it in men’s competition, sounds a little bit like cheating.
    This is not about trans hating, this is about loving women and the way we live, think and behave, and our right to be what we are, so do I now have to start calling myself a Real Woman? NO, I am a Woman.

  12. Richard white incorrectly says that a white man cannot say he is a black man. Race and ethnicity is self determined,not determined by government. A man can say he is black or white or whatever he wants, but other people may classify this person according to some political policy.
    Almost all the hundred comments ignore the simple logic: no penises in women’s showers.

    1. Of course people can claim to be any race they wish, but that doesn’t mean they are of that race.
      A white man is not a black man simply by stating it. That is the simple logic that you have ignored.

  13. Do we have to address a trans woman as Mrs in law as a legal requirement. She her etc. Can i call such a person Mister?

    1. There is no law that says you have to address a trans-identifying man (or “trans woman”) as “Mrs” or use his preferred pronouns, and if the state tried to compel you to do so I think you would have a good argument that that was an unjustifiable interference in your right to freedom of expression.

      But much depends on context. If the trans-identifying man is a customer or service-user whom you interact with in the course of your employment or profession, your employer or professional regulator may insist that you comply with his demands about language – and if you refuse and are dismissed or disciplined, a court or tribunal might well find that the employer or regulator was within its rights. The law in this area is still developing, so if someone with power over your career demands that you use preferred pronouns and mode of address, proceed with caution.

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