Gender Diversity in Gendered Spaces

I have had heated discussions with trans people about this. I know (trans) people who think that non-women should never make use of “female” spaces and non-male people should never make use of “male” spaces.

I think that that is a cis-centric way of thinking of the world, and strongly believe that gender diverse people should do whatever works for them with regards to gendered spaces. The vast majority of gendered spaces are designed for cis people, and do not work very well for gender diverse people. It’s not our fault that designers of gendered spaces have no idea and/or don’t care that we exist, and thus we have the right to make the best of the situation by doing whatever works best for us. It pisses me off that people think gender diverse people should deny ourselves resources for the sake of semantics.

If a uterus-owning person feels they will benefit from a motherhood support group, more power to them. If a trans woman feels comfortable on a gay dating app, more power to her. Gay men aren’t obligated to date her, obviously, but if that’s what works for her, what skin off anyone else’s back is it? If you are going to have a scholarship for women when it makes more sense for that to be a scholarship for gender minorities, I am going to shamelessly apply for it.

Sometimes trans people find themselves in single-gender schools. I know people who think they should remove themselves ASAP, and have no right to demand people gender them correctly. That is not how school works, and centers cis feelings over trans people. Leaving a school is disruptive, difficult and takes time? And if someone comes out at your school and you now KNOW there is one gentleman present, is it that hard to stop addressing everyone as “ladies”? This isn’t about “men making female spaces adapt to them”, this is about cis spaces refusing to acknowledge and adapt to trans realities.

Anyway, here is a story about Harrison Browne, the first openly transgender man competing in women’s hockey. He is putting his medical transition on hold in order to keep competing, and that is what works for him. His teammates respect his gender identity, as they should. Somebody making use of a gendered space that isn’t named their gender is not invitation to misgender them, or decide that they are “really” that gender. Should he instead join the men’s team? No, if that’s not what he wants. Gender categories in sports make no sense anyway; where are nonbinary people supposed to go? It makes more sense for people to be categorised by testosterone/estrogen levels if the advantage of one over the other is significant enough that we must have separate categories, and it is helpful for many gender variant athletes to think of the categories that way when the only other option is to stop doing a sport they love.

There are many barriers to gender diverse people doing sports, and lots of other things, because the cisheteropatriarchy did not think to make space for us. Yes, gendered spaces need to do much better, but it is unfair to expect us to simply not do those things until the world catches up and creates nonbinary judo tournaments. Meanwhile I think that (1) gender diverse people should be allowed wherever they feel comfortable and it makes sense for them to be, and (2) their genders should be respected while there.

Gender Diversity in Gendered Spaces

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