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The issue of what to do about female spaces makes my head spin. I have a series of conflicting thoughts every time I consider the issue so I can sympathise so much with our current society-wide confusion.
My first line of thought is very matter of fact. It carries a clipboard, & ticks boxes firmly. It goes: female spaces are for females. This should not be complicated or hard. (phenotypically female people, like women with CAIS are, of course, included in this statement).
I love what female spaces so often are. Even if we sidestep the issue of safety, the dynamics of all women spaces can be fantastic, & necessary for their own sake.
I went to an all girls school & revelled in it. I don’t want the camaraderie that can exist between women in such spaces to ever be lost.
Then I think: transsexuals have been part of many of our spaces, & those dynamics, for years. They’ve often been our sisters and our friends. Removing them because of modern gender ideology would be wrong.
But I wonder how to factor in the increasing lack of medical gatekeeping we are seeing & the rise of self ID & how the vanishing of transsexuals as a distinct group means it is seemingly impossible to advocate for them to be the only ones who are allowed access.
Which is a rather sad and sudden brick wall, really. We’ve already lost what was a seemingly ideal situation. Women’s spaces were for women, & transsexual people who entered them did so because they were transitioning, rather than being intent on conquering.
Women didn’t mind sharing, & being welcoming & all those good things, because the people entering our spaces were being fair. They weren’t turning up with a series of unreasonable demands & branding all our best negotiators TERFs, either.
I don’t know how we turn the clock back, because the imposition on women & the genuine erasing of transsexuals (not the faux erasure we hear bleatings about daily from New Gender Woketopia) is so harmful and so disturbing.
The main solutions I see offered are

1. batten down the hatches. Exclude all Male people.
2. Create third spaces
3. Base it on passing
4. Reinforce gatekeeping.
(The third one entirely misses the point to me. I don’t care what someone looks like in women’s spaces. I care what souvenirs they choose to bring us from the Land of Masculinity. )
I'd love to see greater gatekeeping again, but I fear that ship has sailed so far into the distance we can’t see a single hint of shoulder parrot anymore. So I would tentatively support third spaces, because I think it might be the most feasible of our options.
The consensus from women, based on the data we have, at least, would suggest they would prefer women’s spaces to mainly just be for females, as well. That does matter, too.
Third spaces are a deceptively simple solution though. It will cause people pain & that alone makes it feel like a ragged offering.
Even before we realise that the businesses who are so happy to signal their progressiveness now may be surprisingly unwilling to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to making distinct spaces for trans people.
So once I have finished arguing with myself about all this, in the bath, while the rubber astronaut duck I impulse bought from John Lewis looks dolefully up at me, I just feel sad that we are having to sift through this. And angry too.
I can only conclude that men, for all their qualities, do have an unforgivable habit of dumping enormous burdens onto our doorsteps.
Not only do they make Male spaces unsafe for transwomen, but they mostly take no responsibility whatsoever for keeping those of their comrades who’ve drunk the “Suck My Girldick Koolaid” in check.
One of the most difficult things about all these debates, for many of us, is that there are seldom simple answers, when we want to be decent to everybody.
I like to tell myself these are just teething troubles of a society grappling with new ideas, and if we get this right we will finally get to see a future that respects women, respects trans people and gives us all room to be. A girl can dream, eh.
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