Three years ago I had a double mastectomy for breast cancer. I chose not to have implants so that future scans for cancer would enable easier detection. I also had nipple sacrificing surgery and so all I am left with is two 20cm scars across my chest. In the last year I have become increasingly concerned about male incursion into women’s changing rooms at day spas, pools and similar areas. While I have had no feelings of embarrassment in the past with women seeing what is left of my chest, I am not about to expose what is left to any male (other than my husband), regardless of how that person self-identifies. While men too can (very rarely) get breast cancer, the alteration to their bodily form is not as drastic as my experience. It is a very private, female-only experience for me and, with self-identification allowed in my state (Queensland, Australia), I am forced to queue to undress or change in a shower or toilet cubicle. Neither of these options is particularly appealing as the floors may be wet and these areas weren’t designed for changing - the change room itself, where the lockers are generally located, is the designated area for changing, but I am unwilling to do that when I may be exposing myself to people who were born male. Some males in the actual changing room may have gender dysphoria, others may be fetishists, and still others may be accessing the space for a dare or laugh. When changing rooms were a female-only space, I felt comfortable, having never experienced anything but empathy and compassion from actual women who have seen my chest. Now, however, I feel exposed, intensely uncomfortable and somewhat unsafe in what have become, effectively, unisex changing rooms, and in being forced to use less hygienic spaces (toilet cubicles) in order to undress and change. Even if the males identifying as females in such rooms have no ill intentions towards me, I still do not wish to have to share that space with them.
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