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Why 'Women Only' Space Must Include Trans Women

Why 'Women Only' Space Must Include Trans Women

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Published by Ashley Wilde
Why 'Women Only' Space Must Include Trans Women, from Press for Change Briefing Paper 1998, Mission Statement 1995
Why 'Women Only' Space Must Include Trans Women, from Press for Change Briefing Paper 1998, Mission Statement 1995

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Published by: Ashley Wilde on Nov 22, 2010
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Published on Press For Change (http://www.pfc.org.uk )
Why 'Women-Only' space must include trans women
PFC Briefing paper May 1998Press for Change is a political lobbying and educational organisation, whichcampaigns to achieve equal civil rights and liberties for all transgendered people in the U.K. through legislation and social change.A transsexual is a person having the physical characteristics of one sex and the psychological characteristics of the other. [New Oxford Dictionary 1992][Mission Statement 1995]1.00 Extract from Press for Change Statement of Aims and Objectives:
The Press for Change campaign will work towards achieving…
The right (of trans people) to live in their proper gender role withoutharassment, ridicule or discrimination.2.00 Why do some owners of women-only space seek to exclude trans women?Prejudice against transsexual people is usually founded on ignorance and/or fear of a perceived threat.
It is understandable that many people remain ignorant of transsexualism.People get mixed up between sex and gender, and think people are "changing"sex out of some kind of lifestyle choice or other superficial reason, or that trans people are "sick" or "perverted".Obviously this level of prejudice is easily dealt with by providing proper information and above all by just meeting or knowing someone who is “out” asa transsexual person. This usually dispels any fears.
A more difficult issue to confront is prejudice which is based on theunderstanding that if transsexual people are what we say we are — that is, if 
trans women are really women and trans men really men — we represent athreat to many of the deep-rooted assumptions on which our culture isconstructed, for example that there two sexes and everyone must belong to oneor the other, that sex and gender roles are purely cultural and boys and girls aredifferent only because socialised differently and that equal opportunities willnecessarily lead to equal representation.Trans people themselves differ on the "nature v nurture" argument, but we doknow very well that sex, sexuality and gender are not necessarily congruent,and we illustrate the mutability of all these "grey scales". We also illustrate thatthe gender identity for any individual is innate and if strongly felt,unchangeable, not acquired.Therefore transsexual people have been viciously attacked by some so-calledfeminist theorists (Janice Raymond being the most famous): transsexualwomen are told that they are men who are parodying a stereotype of a woman;transsexual men are told that they are betraying their lesbian sisters by not being masculine women. These arguments would be laughable were it not thatthey can lead — and have led — to extreme prejudice and to acts of violence,never mind exclusion from community resources to which the rest of societyhas access.3.00 Exclusion is unrealisticIt is not possible to tell who is or is not a trans woman. Many trans women look like born women, many born women present an ambivalent or masculineappearance. Unless the individual chooses to reveal her status, no group can besure it does not include trans women.It is difficult to construct a "test" by which an individual qualifies as a"woman". Some women with female on their birth certificates have XYchromosomes (owing to Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome or another intersexcondition), many women are unable to conceive, and a few women have "male"on their birth certificates owing to having been reassigned during childhood.Common sense says the only workable definition of a woman is a person whoso defines herself.4.00 Exclusion may be illegal
The legal position following the case of "P v S and Cornwall CountyCouncil" has yet to be resolved in a formal court judgement, but the indications
so far are that such a judgement would be likely to go in favour of the trans person.
P was a transsexual woman who was offered promotion as a male, but wasdismissed when she told her employers of her intention to undergo gender reassignment. Her case was brought to the European Court of Justice after anIndustrial Tribunal found it could not deal with the case under British law. Thecase was supported by the Equal Opportunities Commission. On 30th April1996 the Court of Justice found in favour of the plaintiff.The Court found that there was a breach of the 1976 European Union Directiveon equal treatment, which guarantees men and women the same rights. TheCourt heard that Article 5 precludes the dismissal of a transsexual person for reasons related to gender reassignment and that the principle of equal treatmentfor men and women means that there should be no discrimination whatsoever on the grounds of sex. The judgement declares it illegal to discriminate inemployment against a person on the grounds of their wishing to undergo or having undergone gender reassignment.
Whilst the judgement refers to employment, transsexual people have beenseeking to extend its implications. In one case, a trans woman who wasworking as a voluntary prison visitor was granted £60,000 compensation whenthe agency with which she worked tried to stop using her owing to her transsexualism. In another, a trans woman was refused access to a women-onlycollege course, but the college backed down when threatened with a legalchallenge.
Given that owners of single sex space are generally obliged to admit onesex or the other, a women-only space which excluded trans women would belogically obliged to admit trans men!5.00 Exclusion is unfair 
Whilst the life experience of trans women may in general differ in somerespects from that of born women, there is such a range of experience amongstall women that in any group of women brought together for social, leisure,educational, work or other reasons, there will be some experiences common toall and others unique to each member.
Trans women, whatever their history, live as women, and therefore facethe same discrimination, problems and issues as other women. They may havehad a particularly rough time and need the support of other women — some

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Adelaide Dupont added this note
This white paper is especially helpful as it has case studies from legislation as well as remarks you can make hopping on one foot (which is one of my philosophical and logical tests).

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