At Gender Identity Watch, we have monitored “gender identity” laws, regulations, agency policies and other developments for more than two years. We believe it is time for an affirmative statement on these developments and who they harm.
As we have stated many times, we support civil rights protections based on sex stereotypes (i.e., gender identity) in employment and housing. No one should lose a job or be denied housing because they identify as transgender.
With regard to public accommodations, such as public restrooms, we support a definition of “gender identity” that limits a claim for discrimination to those taking steps to medically transition.
Where the rubber really hits the road, though, is when gender identity laws allow Male people into space intended for vulnerable Women – these spaces include homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, halfway homes and, the most significant of all, prisons.
Each of these spaces have at least two things in common. They are spaces intended for the most vulnerable Women among us. For example, up to 100% of homeless women have experienced domestic or sexual violence at some point in their lives, depending on the region and type of study. Homeless women also suffer from mental illness or substance abuse issues. Many of these Women are Women of Color who are also burdened by our white supremacist society.
Second, these spaces are spaces that are difficult to access and difficult to exit. That is, they are not similar to the public restroom at the mall. At Gender Identity Watch, we are less concerned about the public restroom with regard to gender identity policies because Women have freedom of movement. Further, a Man who identifies as a Woman who acts inappropriately can be prosecuted criminally for any misconduct. A Woman can remove herself from a public restroom; a Woman in a homeless shelter – or a prison – does not have that same luxury.
We believe that entities supporting gender identity laws owe consideration and thought to those Women who are most negatively impacted by gender identity laws – Women like those sexually assaulted by Christopher Hambrook, a Man who identified as a Woman and gained access to a homeless shelter where he sexually assaulted two Women. Women like these incarcerated Women raped by Paris Green, a Man who identifies as a Woman who was housed with Women despite his anatomical maleness.
If Women cannot escape a space easily, if Women cannot take steps needed to protect themselves from harm, public policy should not force such harm on these Women. Incarcerated Women deserve to be treated humanely while serving their sentences, which means space away from males. The United Nations affirmed this belief in its Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which provides that:
“(t)he different categories of prisoners shall be kept in separate institutions or parts of institutions taking account of their sex, age, criminal record, the legal reason for their detention and the necessities of their treatment. Thus, … Men and women shall so far as possible be detained in separate institutions; in an institution which receives both men and women the whole of the premises allocated to women shall be entirely separate.”
Intersectionality is a sham if it fails to consider these Women, who are surely the most impacted by multiple systems of oppression among all Women.