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
In services where sex matters, there are real practical conflicts between the interests of people who wish to be treated as if they are the opposite sex, and the rights, interests and safeguarding of others. This requires careful and grown up policies, not just a celebration of diversity, backed up by good intentions and hope. […]
The authority that regulates security in pubs and clubs says “who needs rules?” when it comes to women’s privacy
Single sex services are about rules. Ambiguity about whether someone has permission to be in a space where someone else is undressing is a recipe for trouble. With clear rules everyone can be treated with respect and kept safe. Rules and policies provide three levels of protection: People are more likely to comply without intervention […]
They say “hard cases make bad law“. What little case law there is about single sex spaces and transgender people’s access to them falls into that category. Croft v Royal Mail was an employment case which considered the issue of toilets and changing rooms. It went to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and then to the […]