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.
National Sun Yat-sen University: Female student was filmed in uni-sex dorm shower
On 16 Dec. 2019, a male student was caught secretly filming a female student in the uni-sex univiersity dorm shower by his mobile phone. However, he successfully fled from the spot before the military instructor arrived.
This event happened at National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung. The NSYSU started its uni-sex dorm policy from Sep. 2017. At the beginning, 3 floors of the dorm were turned into uni-sex. Male and female students lived in different floors and rooms but used the same showers. Till the first semester in 2019, the policy was changed. Male and female students had to share every space in the dorm. Even though multiple monitors have been set up, the secret filming event happened. Till now, no suspect is identified in the 29 male students of this uni-sex dorm.
Eventually, the NSYSU strengthened the shower wall panels, separated male and female showers, and set up monitors at the entrance. Responding to this rapid change, the Dean of Student Affairs, Ching-Li Yang, and the Student Council President emphasized that secret filming could happen in every dorm no matter it is uni-sex or not.
NTU’s Female Dormitory
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’s Swimming Pool Female Changing Room and Restrooms
According to NTNU’s principal, Zheng-Ji Wu, around 3-4 years ago, 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. From then on, the old bathrooms and restrooms were modified into a more gender-friendly environment.
【Gender Equality in the University】After event of female swimming pool changing room, NTNU’s principal reveals whole progress
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.
CGU’s Female Dormitory
(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 Judgement ｜TAPCPR’s Declaration
Female Hot Spring on the Jin Mountain
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
Female Restroom of Taipei’s Startup Company
(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
Reform bill of the Detention Act: Agency of Corrections of Ministry of Justice reports on how to protect trans prisoners' rights
In July 2020, The Ministry of Justice provided “Written Report No. 1: The incidental resolution of the reform bill of the Detention Act” to reply to the resolution that the Legislative Yuan made in 2019.
According to the resolution of the Legislative Yuan, The Ministry of Justice is expected to provide special treatment on one’s gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. According to it, the Agency of Corrections is expected to make regulations concerning the individual evaluation of gender-diverse prisoners and adjust the treatment every 2 years. The staff of correctional facilities is supposed to receive gender education to be more aware of gender diversity and gender equality.
In 2022, the Executive Yuan gave a commission, “Research project on the legislation of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA)”, to Professor Yi-Chien Chen of Shih Hsin University. In the research project, the criminal justice system is suggested to house prisoners upon their gender identities. Although the Ministry of Justice did not agree with this suggestion, it replied that the housing of prisoners would be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Presumably, correctional facilities may be forced to house mtf prisoners in women’s prisons if the GRA is passed.
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.
TTHA also supported gender-identity-based restrooms and lobbied for the Equality Act (including the discrimination against one’s gender identity).
Source: TTHA’s Official Website
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
Woman customer sees strange man "masturbating" in changing room—H&M: "Gender equality is rooted in our company values"
In March 2022, a woman went to the H&M store in Ximending, Taipei. When she was trying on clothes, she saw a strange man peeking at her and masturbating. She told the store but got no substantive response. After she reported to the police, the clues found in the CCTV tape were too few to specify the suspect.
The Public Relations Department of H&M responded that they were sorry to see this happen and would review their security policies. However, they also stated that changing rooms will not be separated into 2 sexes and stressed that “Gender equality is rooted in our company values.” To the doubts that no clerks watching outside changing rooms, the PR of H&M replied that their clerks might be too busy to keep watching all the changing rooms.
As a fashion brand boasting gender equality, H&M does not provide its unisex changing rooms with any supplements. It is noteworthy that H&M truly believes that “gender equality” can be achieved without providing any guardians for female customers to try on clothes in changing rooms.
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.
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”.
NCKU’s Female Dormitory
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.
Update: According to “The controversy over the accommodation of NCKU’s trans student”, one episode of the Taiwan Public Television’s TV program, “Lab of News”, the NCKU has been letting mtf students live in female dormitory without any female students’ consent.
So far the NCKU has arranged special dorm rooms for 4 trans students. In 2014, 1 mtf student lived in an independent room in the female dormitory. In 2015, 2 trans students shared one room with 1 male roomate in the male dormitory. In 2021, 1 mtf student lived in an independent room in the female dormitory.
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 2 ｜News 3
National Taiwan University: Male college student upskirts female classmate in unisex toilet
On 11 May 2022, a male college student named Cheng hid in a unisex toilet on the second floor of the Lixian Hall and used his mobile phone to upskirt one female classmate from the door gap of the next stall. The female classmate found Cheng acting suspiciously and called the college security guard. Cheng was soon brought to justice.
During the investigation, Cheng admitted his crime. He was prosecuted for Article 315-1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of China (Uses audio recording, photographic, visual-taping, or electromagnetic means without reason to record other’s non-public activities, speeches, talks, or the private bodily part). The public prosecutor applied for summary judgment to the court. During the trial, Cheng offered an apology video and an apology letter as the female classmate demanded. His suspended sentence was agreed upon by her. Cheng has been sentenced to 3 years in prison and a suspended sentence of 4 years. He also has to be put under protective control during the period of suspended punishment. Within 1 year of the sentence verified by an irrevocable court judgment, he has to receive law education for 20 hours.
Bearded trans woman "hides male genital between legs" to break into Beitou's female hot spring
On 10, Nov., a 37-year-old trans woman, Kuo, and one female friend broke into the female hot spring of Emperor Spa in Beitou, Taipei. As soon as the female guests found Kuo’s stubble and male genital, they called the police. When asked by one elder female guest, Kuo has insisted that he is a trans man who has undergone hormone therapy. To comfort other female guests, Kuo’s female friend also patiently explained that “Kuo” is a real female person. Kuo even offered a female ID card to the clerk.
However, the police found that the female ID card does not belong to Kuo. During the police interrogation, Kuo eventually admitted that it is his female former colleague’s ID card which he has not returned after accidentally finding it at the workplace. Kuo told the police that as a male person who identifies as a woman, “she” is more comfortable in female spaces like the female hot spring. Kuo was found taking an electronic device when entering the female hot spring. Although the police did not find Kuo recording any videos with that device, they fined Kuo for violating the Social Order Maintenance Act. Kuo was transferred to the Taiwan Shilin District Prosecutors Office for providing a fake identity with the intention to damage or cause benefit losses to the public (Article 75 in the Household Registration Act) and exercising unlawful control over other’s property for himself or for a third person takes a lost property (Article 337 in the Criminal Code of the Republic of China).
One female guest, Ms. Chang, said, “I was scared even freaked out. That man claimed to be a woman but I saw the male genital between his legs when he stood up. In order not to let us see the male genital, he hid it between his legs while soaking in the hot spring.”
Another breach of "Da Chen Bra store" allows mtf to try on underwear in changing room
Chien Tung Lin, an mtf who has not received any surgery, posted on Facebook that how intoxicating it was to try on underwear in a women’s bra store for the first time. The post provoked a backlash from female Facebook users. In the post, Lin even claimed to conquer other women’s bra stores.
According to the breach of Da Chen Bra store in Chiayi, they are a women’s bra store that only allows female customers to try on; also, there is a sign at each changing room’s entrance saying “No entry for men”. The breach also said that because Lin was in full disguise (wig, mask, and dress) and remained silent, the clerk found out Lin’s sex while Lin was trying on in the room.
However, in Jan. 2023, Lin went to another breach of Da Chen Bra store on Guohua St., Tainan. This time, Lin posted on Facebook that how pleasing it was to shop in that breach: “Every time I tried one on, the clerk took in more for me. My nipples became red and swollen. How horrifying.” Lin also praised that the clerk was communicative.
Lots of female customers left comments about this incident on the Google review of the breach. To their surprise, the store accused that all those comments are malicious and irritating. So far, the store has not made any clarification of the real condition (how Lin went in and tried on in the room) on that day.
Despite the fact that Da Chen Bra store has declared to be a women-only bra store with a sign at each changing room’s entrance saying “No entry for men”, many female customers do not have much confidence in its service, especially since the same incident has happened twice.
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.
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?
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)) ↩︎ ↩︎