Controlled Spaces and Gender Identity Laws (USA)

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.

9 thoughts on “Controlled Spaces and Gender Identity Laws (USA)”

  1. “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.”

    First of all, no one has a precise definition of “gender identity” other than how a person feels at any particular point in time. People can and do change their “gender identity”. Second, biological males have no inherent right to use women’s restrooms or locker rooms. Doing so is a privilege not a right. Females have a fundamental human right to dignity and privacy.

    What exactly does, “taking steps to medically transition” mean”? This is the major problem as I see it. Does this mean just therapy, or hormones and therapy? Does this mean the person plans on medical transition? People can always claim that they are taking steps to “transition”. Does it mean actual sex reassignment surgery? Intact biological males have no right to use women’s restrooms. This is where I draw the line, and I firmly believe that most people agree with me on this issue. Unless he has had sex reassignment surgery, hormones, and a certain amount of time with an actual therapist who says the “gender identity” is long standing and genuinely felt, he has no business in a women’s restroom, locker room, or women’s shelter.

    I’m sure most people who read this blog have heard about Colleen Francis. From what I’ve read, he was seeing some sort of therapist for “gender identity”, and was on hormones for about a year. Was Clay Scott Francis “taking steps to medically transition”? We definitely know that he is male and had his male genitalia when this incident occurred. It’s in the campus police report. “Her male legs open with her male genitalia showing” is not acceptable in a women’s locker room. This must have been traumatic for the teenage girls. How can anyone prove that his “gender identity” is more important than the emotional trauma that these girls must have suffered.

    Below is another example where a female’s right to privacy was violated, causing her embarrassment and shame.

    “I am a senior woman. Recently, a “man” claiming to be transgender, who had not yet begun physical treatments, was permitted by our local Y to use the women’s locker room. There are no secure change rooms. The person they allowed in was not courteous and stared at me while I struggled out of a wet bathing suit. He was naked, had an erection and playfully asked ‘do you come here often?’ I understand that gender is no longer judged solely by genitalia, but does a brief contact with the duty manager mean that men not yet committed to gender reassignment are free to disrobe anywhere they choose?”

    In addition to SRS and hormones, I would also require that he must be: (1.) sane, and (2.) not a registered sex offender, or was convicted of murdering women, etc. As to sanity, people really have to question the overall sanity of men like Douglas, “Donna”, Perry. He underwent SRS in Thailand where the doctors really don’t care if people are mentally stable or not as long as they get their money. I don’t care if he had SRS done in Thailand. Who wants this sociopath and suspected serial killer of in a women’s restroom? Who wants someone like Robert, “Michelle”, Kosilek in a women’s restroom or locker room. I don’t care if they got their penis cut off. If Richard, “Sherri”, Masbruch ever gets out of prison for torturing women with an electrical wire before raping them, who wants this sadistic monster sharing a women’s restroom with their teenage daughter. Masbruch self-mutilated his own penis and had to have it removed, and the California Department of Corrections sent him to a women’s prison. I suppose some could argue that he underwent SRS, but a biological male really has to hate the female sex to do what he did. He doesn’t deserve the honor of being called woman. There are some very dangerous sociopathic men. If we question their overall mental stability, how can we prove that their “gender identity” is authentic? Their belief that they are “women” could be part of their deranged mental state. I thought that people had to be relatively sane before undergoing SRS, but apparently I was wrong.

    So, this is how I see it. This is what I would want proof of before he is granted the privilege of using women’s restrooms, locker rooms etc. As it stands today, there are no standards. Under most “gender identity” laws, SRS is basically optional. Many transwomen are fully intact biological males. There is also the issue of men like Masbruch and Douglas, “Donna”, Perry.

    (1.) Make sure he is not mentally unstable or a suspected serial killer. This would require some sort of actual therapy from a trained therapist not some quack.
    (2.) He would have to take hormones and therapy for a certain period of time to make sure he is stable and adjusting to life as a “woman”.
    (3.) Sex reassignment surgery must be a requirement because penis in the women’s restroom or locker room is not a civil right, and sooner or later someone like Colleen Francis or the young man in the Star article will come along.

    Sex reassignment surgery doesn’t actually change one’s sex. For all practical purposes, it’s extensive plastic surgery on otherwise health genitalia. I personally think it’s barbaric, but intact biological males don’t belong in women’s restrooms or locker rooms.

  2. “At Gender Identity Watch, we are less concerned about the public restroom with regard to gender identity policies because Women have freedom of movement.”

    What does this mean? Males have freedom of movement too, and there is no reason why a biological male can’t use the men’s restroom, or some gender neutral restroom. Males have no right to use women’s restrooms. Where did people get this idea?

    “At Gender Identity Watch, we are less concerned about the public restroom with regard to gender identity policies because Women have freedom of movement.”


    Where exactly are women supposed to move to with their “freedom of movement”? Do they use the men’s restroom, or hunt down another restroom?

    In other words, women’s restrooms will be occupied by males who “identify as women”, who may or may not still have their male genitalia, and women can just use their “freedom of movement” to go somewhere else.

    “At Gender Identity Watch, we are less concerned about the public restroom with regard to gender identity policies because Women have freedom of movement.”

    Perhaps the women who read GID have a different opinion. I have no interest in using my “freedom of movement”. I expect males to use men’s restrooms or some gender neutral restroom.

    1. Women who are in spaces where they are controlled (like prison) are more vulnerable than women who can move around. It is not a difficult concept. You advocate for whatever you want. We are pointing out the gross injustice done to the most vulnerable of all women under gender identity policies.

  3. I really want to know more about the “freedom of movement” as it’s used in the above sentence because it’s a very interesting concept. Could Ms. Brennan explain “freedom of movement” to me?

  4. Sometimes I wish local queer resource centers would provide more information that specifically applies to me. When I was the victim of sexual assault I didn’t know who I could go to and have yet to discuss it with any kind of professional. When I spoke to a friend of mine (a gay man who works with a local queer advocacy program) about trying to find support, he told me to go to a women’s shelter. I did not want to try to go to a women’s shelter for two reasons. 1. I felt like it would be wrong for me to go into that space because it’s obviously supposed to provide support for biological women. 2. I felt like they most likely would not be able to address the individual needs I may have as a trans person as opposed to a biological woman. I have heard stories of trans women being accused of prostitution in situations of sexual assault and I feared being treated similarly if I went to an organization not specifically trained to provide support for people in my situation. I don’t live my life as a highly visible or activist kind of person mostly because I like my privacy and I am very much tied up in my studies and personal career field. But I feel like the people who are primarily running advocacy for trans rights are oftentimes focusing on the wrong kinds of changes, specifically demanding access to other people’s spaces instead of demanding their own space and access to individualized support. Not really sure what to do or how to feel or even voice my opinion sometimes. Some of my peers already dislike some of my opinions regarding gender and sexuality because I’m a radical behaviorist, but I never even think about voicing criticism of certain popular queer advocacy points out of fear of rejection or ridicule.

  5. “Accordingly, definitions of “gender identity” that permit the individual to “self-identify” without any duration or medical documentation requirements present the potential for a human rights violation against all females”

    Not only is it is a human rights violation against all females, it places girls and women in danger.

  6. The UN Letter was excellent, well thought out, logical, and fair and balanced. Why did some trans activists pitch such a fit over this letter? Even when women try to express their views in a respectful manner, they are viciously attacked. People should read the letter themselves.

    I’m deeply sorry that Ms. Brennan and Ms. Hungerford received such hateful comments and personal attacks because of this letter.

    Read the letter yourself and decide….

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