Earlier this week I was contacted by the Evening Times requesting a comment from me about the response they had received from a Freedom of Information request at Glasgow Life. A month ago I had revealed the details of Glasgow Life’s Transgender Policy, and how access to single sex spaces like women’s changing rooms and showering facilities was on the basis of Self ID alone, and that they had even took the unusual step of extending it to include male Cross Dressers.

Below is my comment.

“The responses from Glasgow Life to this FOI request raise more questions rather than provide clarity. The wording of the questions is ambiguous, asking about ‘people of other genders’ in women only facilities.   The Glasgow Life Policy states that staff are to accept people on the basis of their self identified gender, therefore people who self identify as women wouldn’t then be considered as ‘people of other genders’, and therefore Glasgow Life would in fact consider them as women. Clarification would be needed around the understanding of what is being asked and therefore answered.   We know that Equality Network – Scottish Trans Alliance have worked alongside Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council regarding their trans inclusive policies, and we also know that Equality Network – Scottish Trans Alliance deliberately conflate the terms sex and gender.  It’s therefore difficult to interpret these responses. 

I’d be interested in what methods have Glasgow Life adopted to record and measure the implementation of their trans inclusive policy?   Are they measuring it on the number of complaints that have been made or have they been actively asking for feedback and seeking the views of their customers?  How well have they advertised their trans inclusive policy at each of their venues? Are there, for example, signs on the doors of toilets and changing rooms explicitly stating that these spaces are no longer female only, and that their policy now permits cross dressing men to access women only service?  It’s normal practice for Public toilets to have a warning sign displayed at the entrance indicating when both female and male attendants maintain the facilities, they do this because people would be alarmed if they saw a member of the opposite sex within a single sex space.    I think it’s important to establish what actions Glasgow Life have taken to notify their customers about their change of policy.   

It would also be wrong to assume that when women and girls encounter males within such areas that they would then officially report it.   #MeToo revealed that the vast majority of the sexual harassment and sexual assaults experienced by women and girls day in day out, go unreported.  

The best way to measure whether or not women are concerned about women only spaces and services being inclusive of the wide range of people who now fall under the trans umbrella, isn’t to go by the number of complaints they’ve received.   If providers of single sex services really want to know whether or not women and girls feel safe around trans individuals then they should ask them. 

All the evidence that I’ve seen from a wide range of public sectors, is that this isn’t being done. Women and girls are not being consulted prior to any of these policy changes, despite it being a legal requirement of the Public Sector Equality Duty.  

The fact that Glasgow Life provide women only sessions at all indicates to me that they do understand how important the option of single sex provisions are for many women, and it’s encouraging to see they have responded to the higher demand of them by steadily increasing the number of sessions on offer.    They now need to ask themselves WHY women would want women only sessions and then reconcile that against their own trans inclusive policy. 

Susan Sinclair 

Independent Researcher and Campaigner for women’s rights ‘Scottish Women’ “

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Thank you for all your support, Susan Sinclair