Women’s rights campaigners have demanded the Scottish Government and all Scottish public authorities carry out full equality impact assessments on proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act after a survey of 2000 women revealed that the vast majority want single-sex spaces to remain women-only.
Seventy nine per cent of 2000 women who answered a survey by grassroots campaign group Women and Girls in Scotland, said that sex-segregated facilities such as communal changing rooms, showers, refuge services and prisons, should be solely for women. The survey also found that 71 per cent would not use survivor support services or refuges if they were inclusive of “trans-identified male users or staff”.
Leya Terra, one of the co-founders of WGS, said the survey - which was drawn up by two women and a transwoman and was publicly available - had used the term “trans-identified males” because “natal males who have a trans identity don’t all identify as transwomen”. The survey asked how women would feel about mainstream and specialist single sex spaces and services if they were open to any male who identified as a woman.
She said: “Our findings make it clear that it is the very presence of a male bodied person in spaces where women and girls are at all vulnerable, such as communal changing rooms, communal showering facilities, communal sleeping accommodation, women’s services and prisons, that is enough to cause discomfort and distress for women and girls, and is enough to cause further re-traumatisation for those who have suffered abuse and assault.
“It is also enough to cause women to self-exclude from using female-only provisions they would usually use, including self-excluding in ways that could lead to serious personal harm, in addition to social exclusion and inequality.”
The survey was launched after concerns were raised about a lack of consultation with women over proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which would allow transgender people to self-declare their identity to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).
Lisa Mackenzie, of policy analysis group MurrayBlackburnMackenzie, said: “It is clear that there has been a persistent failure on behalf of public authorities and other service providers to take into account the views and needs of women and girls. The Scottish Government should now issue a clear statement on the effect of holding a GRC on a person’s legal rights of access to single sex service provision and undertake a full equality impact assessment of its reform proposals. Public authorities who have already introduced policies based on gender self-identification should take immediate steps to assess their impact on all users and potential users.”
The Scottish Government has said that its proposals would not change single-sex spaces’ “right of refusal”.