Politics & Policy

Feminist Gay Activist Pushing to Keep Bathrooms Gender-Segregated

Mixed-gender bathrooms pose a risk of harassment for women.

prominent lesbian feminist activist is pushing to keep bathrooms segregated by gender on grounds that might sound familiar to conservatives: Mixed-gender restrooms would put women at risk of harassment and assault.

Sheila Jeffreys, an author and teacher who is “actively involved in feminist and lesbian feminist politics,” has published a piece explaining that women need separate restrooms because they are biologically different. These biological differences automatically put women at a higher risk for assault, she asserts, and to even consider exposing women to this risk just for the sake of “gender expression” is asinine.

“Women’s concerns are not seen as relevant here,” she wrote. “Rather, how the male-bodied transgender feels is the most important thing, and feeling embarrassed because women have been made to feel uncomfortable is less worrying than facing possible male violence in the ‘men’s.’ The entry of male-bodied transgenders into women’s facilities or the elimination of women’s facilities in favour of ‘gender-neutral’ bathrooms is likely to endanger women’s safety.” 

The amount of pornography available online that includes photos men have taken by “stealth” of women in toilets and locker rooms proves this danger certainly exists: “A Google search of ‘upskirts in bathrooms,’ for example, produces 6,630,000 results,” she noted.

Jeffreys added that many of the people who have been caught sexually harassing women in bathrooms in the past few years have included men wearing women’s clothes — and that it is impossible to know the difference between transgender men and those who intend to exploit women. In the 19th century, the West fought hard for the right of women to have their own restrooms, and other countries are still fighting for this right today. In Delhi, for example, women are frequently kidnapped from mixed-gender bathrooms and raped.

“The loss of safe toilets for women at this juncture in the West as a result of campaigns to protect the right to ‘gender identity’ would be a serious step back from women’s equality,” she says. The best solution to the problem of bathrooms for transgender people, according to Jeffreys, is to have single-stall private bathrooms available, and to never under any circumstance allow men into women’s facilities.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online.

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