Gender-neutral changing rooms and toilets are becoming more prevalent, but that is not what most women want, and the law supports us. When a woman or girl enters the women’s changing rooms or toilets she reasonably expects to be sharing that space only with other members of the female sex and for service providers to have in place the lawful single-sex policies she relies upon for her privacy, dignity and safety. She expects a male-free space.
The Equality Act 2010 contains provisions that make male-free spaces like this lawful. EA2010 Schedule 3 Part 7 Paragraph 27 sets out a range of the conditions under which single and separate sex exceptions can apply. This includes condition 6b:
“the circumstances are such that a person of one sex might reasonably object to the presence of a person of the opposite sex.
However, this lawful and well-established contract between women and service providers is now being broken. We are now see many organisations changing their policies to open up their female-only spaces to members of the opposite sex in the name of ‘transgender inclusion’. This is even happening in schools, where girls are being told it is transphobic to object to “gender-neutral” changing rooms and toilets, even though the law is on their side.
Women are now becoming aware of this and voicing their concerns in increasing numbers. But they often get shamed into silence by getting called transphobic for wanting a male-free space.
Service providers are putting themselves at an increased risk of litigation and reputational damage by relying on simplistic and incomplete trans-inclusion guidance and elevating the needs of one protected group over another.
Fair Play For Women actively campaigns on this issue, speaking up for women and girls and engaging with policy makers.
Government is becoming aware there is a problem and has launched a ‘technical call for evidence’ on toilet provision. They are aware that many women want male-free toilets. They know that so-called gender-neutral changing rooms and toilets are really mixed-sex, noting that “Women are also likely to feel less comfortable using mixed sex facilities and require more space”
Fair Play For Women will be responding to this call for evidence in relation to the protected characteristic of sex.
- Our advice to service providers about female-only changing rooms
- Consensus between pro-women and pro-trans groups: All want clearer guidance on single-sex spaces.
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