Women’s Spaces

A women-only space is the border and frontier for women to stay safe in public places. In the beginning, it was built to protect women.

Globally, women-only spaces and related services are harmed due to the permission for those “trans-identified males” to access both. As a result, women are deprived of personal safety and dignity.


Taiwan

NTU
2005-2012
風傳媒

Yan Fong admitted that during her service as the Dean of Student Affairs (from Aug. 2005 to Jul. 2012) she “secretly” helped several trans students transfer to the dormitories of their self-identified genders. She also said that beside the submittance of medical reports of gender dysphoria, these students’ parents and roommates were acknowledged.

NTU’s Ex- Dean of Student Affairs “transfers transgender students to dormitories of their genders”: Shall not sit and watch Xiao Yu suffer from living in the male dormitory

NTNU
2016
鏡週刊 Mirror Media

A NTNU’s trans-identified male staff went to the female swimming pool changing room at the campus. The staff was reported to the police by an off-campus swimmer. After the discussion of NTNU’s Gender Equality Committee, the staff was allowed to use female’s changing rooms and restrooms.

【Gender Equality in the University】After event of female swimming pool changing room, NTNU’s principal reveals whole progress

ISTS Care
2016-2017

ISTS Care has been in a long-term collaboration with TAPCPR. Its director, Yi-Ting Wu, not only supported self-ID but also insisted that all restrooms should be modified as “unisex restrooms”. Besides, she has threatened to sue the people who suspected trans women as male predators and tried to expel them from female restrooms.

TAPCPR
2018

TAPCPR stood against the transgender markers on ID cards. It proposed that these markers would cause troubles of explanation for transgender people.

These transgender markers would cause troubles of explanation for transgender people.
Source: PTS’ Official Website
CGU
2017
taipeitimes.com

(TAPCPR’s Lawsuit) In 2017, a trans woman, Yu-Hsun Wu, applied to live in the female dormitory at Chang Gung University (CGU). After a negotiation between Wu and the university, the independent room in a unisex dormitory was offered to Wu in order to save him from the uncomfortable feelings of living with male classmates. When Wu said that he was not used to this place, the university advised him to live in a new gender-friendly dormitory built next to the female dormitory. However, Wu and TAPCPR deemed this arrangement as a type of gender separation.

Transgender student sparks dorm row The JudgementTAPCPR’s Declaration

Jin Mountain
2018
Yahoo奇摩新聞

On 13 Apr. 2018, it was said that a man broke into “Nanping Public Bathroom” of the female hot spring on the Jin Mountain in New Taipei City. According to one female guest, the person had long hair, flat chest, and masculine face. When she saw this person’s penis, she asked him to leave. However, the man repudiated that “don’t refer to me as a man” and left in haste.

Cross-dressing male in female hot spring on Jin Mountain! When suspected, “he” replies in this way

Taipei
2019
Yahoo奇摩新聞

(TAPCPR’s Lawsuit) In 2019, Ms. Yang, a trans woman, joined a job interview held by a startup company. During the interview, Yang mentioned her need for using female restroom whereas the interviewer did not make a promise for that. On 9 May, the company informed Yang that other female colleagues would use the female restroom only if she was absent. Thus, the company suggested Yang use the accessible restroom. Though the company did not hire Yang, it was fined NT$300,000 for gender discrimination.

Company fined NT$300,000 for gender discrimination because of its rejection to trans interviewee’s requirement for female restroom The Judgement

TAPCPR
2020

In the draft of the Equality Act, TAPCPR has added one’s gender identity. It has claimed that “the people who already change or seek to change their sexes could suffer from gender discrimination” hence “any rejection to their access to products, service, and facilities” is a type of gender discrimination.

TAPCPR
2021

In its training plan for seed teachers, TAPCPR tried to obfuscate the ideas of home restrooms, family restrooms, racial separation, and Yong-Zhi Ye Incident with public restrooms divided by sexes. It tried to make a conclusion that “sex-based restrooms are nonsense” in order to promote the idea of “gender-identity-based restrooms”.

TAPCPR
October, 2021

TAPCPR has claimed that the trans woman criminals are not “true trans” or belong to the random cases. It also has criticized that women’s fear is irrational and boundless; thus, it should not be dealt by laws.

TTHA
2020-2021

TTHA also supported gender-identity-based restrooms and lobbied for the Equality Act (including the discrimination against one’s gender identity).

TTHA said that if trans people use sex-based restrooms, they will scare others in the same room.
Source: TTHA’s Official Website
Uniforms
2020-2022
Yahoo奇摩新聞

In Aug. 2020, a trans woman, Chang, joined a job interview held by Tung Fang Mei Company (TFM). Chang applied for beauty product salesperson which would have many body contacts with customers. For example, Chang would have to smear the product over customers’ face and neck. Also, when providing personal beauty service, Chang would have to touch customers’ head, hands, neck, shoulders, upper back, and breasts. After the interview, TFM told Chang: “We can discuss more details if you are willing to wear our male uniform. If you insist on wearing a female uniform, we have no choice but to reject you.” Chang felt she had been discriminated against because of her gender identity. Based upon the Act of Gender Equality in Employment, Chang filed a lawsuit. The Ministry of Labor (MOL) fined TFM NT$300,000.
However, TFM made an appeal. It said that because of the specific needs for this position, its customers have tended to choose same-sex beautician during the service. It emphasized that the design of male and female uniforms was to let its customers easily recognize the employee’s sex. Even so, TFM lost this lawsuit at The Taipei High Administrative Court.

Only if you wear our male uniform! A beauty company fined NT$300,000 for its rejection to trans interviewee The Judgement

NCKU
May, 2022
新頭殼 newtalk

National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) did a survey on students’ attitudes to a gender-friendly (uni-sex) dormitory. In this survey, most female students did not support this idea. However, the university let a trans-identified male student move into the female dormitory without any discussions. A female student said that the distinctions between male and female dormitories were never clear. She asked, “Are we going to let any male students who claim to be trans move into female dormitory? If any female students are harassed or offended, who will be responsible for it?” She hoped that the distinctions would be clarified with the establishment of a gender- friendly dormitory. She emphasized that gender friendliness should not be based on the cancelling of women’s spaces.
On the other hand, the vice principal, Ching-Chang Lee, replied that the trans student moved into the female dormitory before the survey was done. He claimed that the female students living on the same floor was informed. He said that they would not ask the trans student to move out hence he hoped that female students could be more considerate.

To the trans student at NCKU’s female dormitory, female students opposed: Gender friendliness should not be based on the cancelling of women’s spaces! News 2News 3

How will Taiwan’s future look like?

Women’s Personal Safety and Privacy

According to Taiwan’s statistics about sex crimes, women experience sexual violence at a high rate whereas men are the most majority of sexual offenders. What is worse is, there is a low chance that these sex crimes will be appealed and convicted. The percentage of women being sexually offended in public spaces is significantly higher than the one of men. 1 Thus, women’s negative experiences in public spaces are mainly about insecurity. To allow men to enter women’s spaces is depriving women of personal safety and the right to use public spaces.

Abridging Women’s Right to Enter Public Spaces

Now, women increasingly gain the right to enter public spaces, yet they still are the weaker party in these places.

From the aspect of physical space and relational space, in mass culture, it is constantly implied that women are always a symbol of men’s potential desire objects; further, the society asks women to do self-protection. Thus, women become more vulnerable to sexual harassments. These conditions cause women to frequently feel embarrassed or limited. For example, if a public open space like park is crowded with men, women may try to avoid getting close to; therefore, it will be naturally formed into a men-only space.1

In short, the limitations on women’s bodies, behaviors, and spaces are the requests made by the society. In public spaces, the gaze and norms limit women’s body act more strictly than men’s. For example, the norm that “the women who spread their legs are inviting a sexual touching” forces women to close their legs in every public space. However, women have the needs to exercise their bodies. Therefore, women-only spaces like gyms, exercise yards, and yoga spaces are formed. 1

If women’s spaces are destroyed, women may be less willing to enter public spaces; further, they will lose the right to enter these places.

The Difficulties in Managing Gender-Identity-Based Facilities

Swimming pools, hot springs, saunas and gyms are divided by sexes. If it is impossible to prevent the opposite sex from entering these same-sex spaces, customers’ willingness to purchase and enter may be reduced.

If the Gender Recognition Act or Self ID is passed, how does any business owner know the sex of their customer? Will single-sex spaces be discriminatory even if unlawful?

The Services Preferred to Be Single-Sex

  • Providers and customers of long-term care will ask for same-sex services due to various reasons. For some customers whose family members are mostly females, they refuse to be served by males in order to avoid crime risks or persist in personal concerns. Vice versa, some providers who have experienced sexual harassments refuse to serve males or the family whose members are mostly males.

  • House cleaning companies tend to hire women due to safety concerns.

  • When seeking for medical treatments, some women who have sex organs disorders (e.g. aches of private parts and problems of uterine, ovarian, and breast) prefer to female physicians due to privacy issues. Therefore, some hospitals provide single-sex services to women by offering female obstetricians and gynecologists. This need of female patients should be respected rather than deprived.

The Jobs Requiring Physical Contacts

  • The industries like beauty salons and bridal services require a lot of physical contacts. However, if a provider prefers to same-sex customers, will it be a discriminatory act?
  • During the customs’ body search, people of different sexes may have some physical contacts; furthermore, there may be differences in the must-search body parts for male and female visitors.
  • The Police
    • For the body search after an arrest, if possible, female police officers will be asked to search female suspects and criminals for the purpose of avoiding any controversy over sexual harassments.
    • For a urine drug test, it must be monitored throughout the process; also, the restroom door needs to be open. Meanwhile, the police officers will be the same sex as the test taker is. If the test taker is a transgender without undergoing a sex reassignment surgery, it will be very difficult to carry out the whole process.

A Company’s Internal System

The examples below including company facilities, room arrangement for company trips and business trips, etc.

  • If employees are divided by sexes during their company’s health check, will this division be considered a gender discrimination and harassment?
  • Do employees have the right to ask for a company facility with single-sex changing rooms?
  • Do employees have the right to ask for single-sex rooms in an overnight company trip?
  • Do employees have the right to know the sex of their unfamiliar roommate in a training/ business trip? Do they have the right to move to another room if their roommate is found out to be the opposite sex?

  1. References above are quoted from the chapter, “From the Aspects of Public and Private Domains: The right of women’s spaces” of Suchiu Chen’s thesis: Troubling the public-private split: A feminist critique. (公、私領域的空間面向:女性空間權力 (pdf)↩︎ ↩︎


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