Five years ago, I was taking my four-year old to the women’s bathroom at the children’s science centre. When I arrived, an older man was in the bathroom washing his hands and talking to two unaccompanied girls (it is a kids’ science museum after all). When I entered, he said “Oh, is this the women’s restroom? I must be confused” and left. I watched him recording children playing in the museum on his phone afterwards and notified the staff.
I question myself about what I would or could do if this man was wearing a wig and presenting as a woman? I would want to protect those unaccompanied girls. But would that make me a target of violence? Would the science centre staff listened to my concerns? Should I tell my teen daughter that she might see someone with a penis openly changing when she goes swimming; how should I even prepare her for this?
Women need single-sex spaces. There are predators that want to access the women and children that use them. It’s impossible for us to know if someone is there for genuine or sinister reasons. As long as people with penises tend to be the overwhelming number of rapists in the world, they shouldn’t have access to the rooms where the vast majority of rape victims go for safety and privacy.
It should be obvious how problematic this is, but somehow these concerns are dismissed and ignored. Women and girls matter.