Single spaces are intended for the use of one sex or the other.
They are often provided to protect everybody’s privacy.
It’s a question of dignity
Being forced to undress, wash, share sleeping accommodation or have personal care with a person of the opposite sex without your consent is degrading.
Shared single sex spaces are often the most practical way to provide lots of people with everyday privacy and dignity.
It’s a question of consent
In the UK the Equality Act 2010 sets out many everyday situations where it is lawful to provide single sex services. This includes:
People using a single sex service have not consented to sharing with members of the opposite sex.
Single sex spaces should be simple
The law does not require that any particular type of service is always provided on a single sex basis.
Mixed sex facilities can be fine too.
You shouldn’t need a law degree, or a PhD in gender studies to work out who can use which facilities. Nor should you have to guess.
To protect everybody’s privacy and dignity there needs to be clarity.
Why has this become so difficult?
The rules and expectations about single sex services have become confused.
Some people think they are based on ‘gender identity’
Some think they are based on ‘gender expression’
(clothing and appearance)
Some think there are no rules at all
There is no right to share intimate spaces with members of the opposite sex without their consent
Where a service is provided for a single sex, whether for everyday privacy or a situation such as a rape crisis centre or a women’s refuge, there should be no need to negotiate with each individual member of the opposite sex about why it is not open to them.
Shared single sex spaces need clear and unambiguous rules
Single sex spaces do not suit everyone:
Some people do not feel comfortable with their sex.
Alternative options, either mixed sex, or not shared with others are often possible: this protects everyone’s privacy and inclusion.
Liz Truss, the Minister for Women and Equalities has recently said that protecting single sex spaces will be a key part of the government’s approach on the Gender Recognition Act, with details to be announced in the summer
Write to the Minister
Write to Liz Truss to say you support the protection of clear and unambiguous single sex spaces
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA
Write to your MP
Write to your MP to
Explain this is an issue of consent and ask them to write to the minister
Tell your friends
I’ve written to the Minister for Women and Equalities – single sex spaces are #aquestionofconsentTweet
Aleardo Zanghellini is a Professor of Law and Social Theory at Reading University. He recently published an article in the Sage Open Journal on Philosophical Problems With the Gender-Critical Feminist Argument Against Trans Inclusion. He does not define what he means by “trans inclusion”. But over the course of the article it becomes clear he […]
There is very little case law about single and separate sex services and gender identity. Only one case has been litigated since the Equality Act 2010 was enacted. In 2014 Halifax County Court awarded £1,500 in damages to S Brook, who was refused access to the women’s toilets of a pub and then barred after […]
The core question that this website is concerned with is whether, and on what basis, male adults have the right to use “female-only” single sex services, include those services provided for everyday bodily privacy (under Schedule 3, paragraph 27 (6) of the Equality Act 2010 in the UK): Whatever your instinct on the question it […]