The Human Rights Argument for Destroying Women's Spaces Makes No Sense
Don't give it any credence
In Canada and in other places with similar laws, we are often told that men have the right to enter into women’s private spaces, like washrooms and changing rooms, because of human rights protections for “gender identity” and “gender expression.” In fact, if you refuse men who say they are women entry into women’s private spaces, you risk getting hauled into a human rights tribunal that will side with him.
What baffles me about this situation is that law- and policy-makers never paused to ask why protections for gender afford entry into spaces segregated by sex. It was just assumed to be the case, and this showcases the massive success of trans activists. While they were beating the drum of “sex and gender are different!” the two actually got conflated in law. Worse, gender—even though we can’t define what it is—became the characteristic that subsumed sex entirely.
But this doesn’t make any sense. The spaces that men are now provided access to on the basis of their gender were created for women in the first place because of our sex. Separate washrooms and changing rooms were set up for women’s physical privacy, safety, and dignity. It had nothing to do with their inner gender feelings or their “gender expression” (i.e., clothing and hairstyle). The lack of these spaces is still a problem in many parts of the world, and it confines women and girls to the home.
Just because “gender identity” and “gender expression” are now protected characteristics (even though no one knows what they mean), it doesn’t follow that men are entitled to use spaces that weren’t created for their sex. Human rights codes also protect sexual orientation, but when sexual orientation was added as a protected ground, no one argued that gay men were now entitled to access women’s washrooms, changing rooms, and prisons (even though one could make an argument for gay men’s vulnerability in male spaces).
Arguing that men who declare a female “gender identity” need special accommodation outside of the spaces that are already available for their sex class makes about as much sense as arguing that washrooms need to be segregated by age or race (both protected characteristics as well).
Sex-segregated spaces were created to accommodate the needs of the different sexes. All two of them. There was no reason outside of society losing its collective mind for that to change just because we decided to protect the nonsense characteristic of “gender.”
And that’s what’s so lamentable about all of this. I will always maintain that gender non-conforming people could and should be protected on the basis of their sex and that there was no need to add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to human rights codes. But I can imagine a world where these grounds were added in a sensible way: where they were used to protect people’s housing, employment, and education but not to grant a special class of men access to women’s spaces.
There are so many ways this discussion could have gone that didn’t lead to the mess we are in today. It’s like activists, politicians, and policymakers chose the worst of all possible worlds. Is it too late to change course? I hope not, but that remains to be seen.
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