Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Stop Betraying Women - We Need To Talk

Do Not Betray Women - My Speech from September 2018 in Manchester for We Need To Talk.

"It is time to stop betraying women".....

Men tell us “transwomen are not a threat in refuges” or “you’re saying all transwomen are violent”... “you’re a bigot who wants to exclude transwomen who suffer domestic violence more than women do” – for which there are no valid statistics by the way.

This centres the man who believes he is born in the wrong body. For which there is no valid evidence.

For women – their experience at the hands of violent men is not science fiction. They don’t wake one day and find themselves in the wrong body. They wake up and find themselves fighting for their lives. Or being raped. Or shielding their children from attack. They wake to find they are still facing a day where they will be humiliated and degraded and shamed and stripped of their confidence and human dignity by a man who hates them. He hates them because they are – not born in the wrong body – but born in a woman’s body. Domestic violence is overwhelmingly a male on female crime. Not a “gendered” crime. A “sexed” crime.

Between 2009-2015 598 women killed by intimate partners or family members
In that time 6 transwomen were killed BY ANYONE. The dead bodies are female.

Will a transwoman harm a woman in a refuge? Why won’t we let them in? I don’t know why we we are asking this question of ourselves as women? or why we are being forced to consider it at all?

It is not the moral obligation of abused women struggling to stay alive to care about the tiny minority of men who believe they are women while retaining a penis as the majority of these men do. Women who need recovery space have no obligation to give up their sex based right - in law - to a single sex space in a women’s refuge. This is written into the equality act and  I am disappointed in any refuge/domestic violence advocacy service currently bending over to the trans ideological terrorists to allow male bodied people into their refuges and services alongside women.

Yes including Women’s Aid ....you are currently suggesting that after review and if there is any change to the gender recognition act that men who identify as women will be able to come into your refuges or work for you on helplines. And yes ... organisations do this from fear of attack from the trans community who will take their funding away if they can. Yes... you will be hounded and villified and threatened. The staff working for you are experiencing this all the time if they so much as like a tweet critical of allowing men into women’s refuges. But.... Women sat here alongside me today and many others have fought to change that dialogue for you and change that social arena. We have put our jobs and our lives and in some cases the lives of our children on the line for you. We have spoken out so that you too can be brave for the women who need you to be brave for them. If you let men in refuges - You have betrayed women. Is is time to stop betraying women.

Refuges were set up by women for women. That is adult human females. The greatest harm for the woman in a refuge comes from the man who she escapes. There is a reason women are moved to different cities. Going to a refuge isn’t like staying at a mates for a bit. A woman escapes the imminent threat to her life. She isn’t just fed up. She is disorientated, dispossessed and frequently desperate in every imaginable way. And she could be murdered without help.

I didn’t need a refuge. I had some resources. I had women guide me towards women’s services and I grew strong and I planned and I had help. I was very lucky. Even with that luck.... even with that support. It was hell. And I took him back more than once. I’m not ashamed of that. On average a woman leaves a man 7 times before she is finally free for good. This is the point. The chains you have to break are made of years of his terrible work shackling your mind and your body to his will. You are not actually free of him for years. If ever. Some part of his terror may remain with you for your lifetime. It does for me.

It remains for my beautiful Helen even beyond her death. She was my best friend and it was her funeral today.  Even as her children weep tonight her husband John pursues a 25% share of the home she has worked 3 jobs to keep for years since she left him.... He will make his own children homeless for his revenge on Helen. He does not need the money. He needs the final triumph. He harassed her throughout her 2 year battle with terminal cancer. Helen also knew that she would be pursued when she left her first violent partner. She lived in Chicago and she knew that she needed to put the Atlantic between them. At least. She left for the airport with a bag on one arm and her first baby under the other. And she never went back. She knew death waited for her. She needed to put an ocean between herself and the man who terrorised her with a broken bottle. Even struggling with the pain of cancer – she was terrified of him making her homeless. Every email from him made her shake with fear. Worse than the cancer which ravaged her body. Point – these men are determined for revenge on their women. You need space away from all men at first for a time at least so you can break those chains and that includes men who say they are women.

A piece of paper – a legal document downloaded from the internet will get determined, violent men like these easy access to a refuge if they want it. And if blokes tell you “no way the laws will protect you!” Well that’s a lie. You are changing laws in ways that will harm us and you want us to pretend that is no threat to us. We won’t pretend. I will not betray women.

When I left my abuser I did not sleep through a night for months. The blinds are still never closed in my bedroom at night because I still retain memory of the nights waiting for the dawn. Hearing every rustle of leaves as his footsteps in the back garden. Every car passing as his car. Waiting for the sound of petrol being poured through the letter box. He is a convicted arsonist. He told me at the start when I said he couldn’t come in to my house uninvited “I hope your house burns to the ground with you in it” It did not matter to him that his child would be in it too.

Because if you decide to leave a violent abuser, or throw him out, you do a very brave but also a very dangerous thing. He will still be there wanting to get to you. He does not ever just walk away. If you survive that bit.... you are not free. You are not safe. The most dangerous time for a woman is right after she leaves. According to the UK femicide census 77.4% of women are killed in the first year after leaving their partner or spouse.

Stop telling us about how refuges have to allow men who say they are women in. Prioritise the women in them. Ask them. A woman contacted me recently who has just fled to a refuge after reading the things I write. I don’t need to give you my words about this. I’ll give you hers. She is there now. She is trying to recover. So when you ask .... how does a woman in a refuge feel about men who think they are women in that same space? Should she object. Why doesn’t she think about their needs as well as her own. I’ll say this. Why the hell should this woman consider a man’s needs?

“So this is my story, you can use it if you wish. I hope one day it may help others.  My first encounter with male violence was at 6 months old, my dad damaged my skull after he punched me, violence continued against me until I was 3, when he then locked me in a bedroom and set fire to our house. Thankfully I was rescued by the fire department, but was immediately put into care. Things were fine until I reached 9, that was when the sexual abuse started. I was living in a care home. One of the carers was male. He abused me until I was able to leave at 16. After that I met my husband, from the start he beat me, raped me, and financially Destroyed me. But at that point I thought I deserved iT, after all that has happened through my life I convinced myself that something was wrong with me, and this was all my fault. So I went along with it, I was defeated. 10 years later, I happened to find Mumsnet, and from that I found you, you changed all that for me, you gave me strength I never knew possible, you showed me this wasn’t my fault. You showed me what happens if you stay. So I managed to flee. I have to live with the repercussions of my life daily. I suffer ptsd, I can’t handle being around men. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to. But you’ve changed my life and I’ll always be grateful.

“I can’t handle being around men”

I will not betray that woman. Do not betray that woman.

Friday, 9 November 2018

It is all about me...

I have had a stalker named Ciaran Goggins for 5 years now. That's more time than I have been with my partner. That is a bit weird to consider.

I cannot shake him. He is obsessed. That's the thing about stalkers. They never stop. You can ignore them. You can report them. You can challenge them. You can plead with them. They will never stop.

Ciaran Goggins was arrested for the rape of a young student in 2004 but not brought to prosecution. He lives mainly in Ireland but is often vagrant. The police don't arrest him because a successful prosecution is hard to pursue with CPS when Irish laws aren't synchronised with the UK regarding online abuse. He was eventually disowned by the Ched Evans campaign though they initially loved his work harassing women like myself. He continued to name the rape complainant throughout both the trial and the re-trial of Ched Evans.

Now. Enough about him. The only power he ever had over me was to reveal my details and strip me of anonymity. He still thinks he has that power. But he doesn't really know my details. And my face is on You Tube videos of my speaking at Women's events. So here is me. I'll make it as brief as possible.

I was born in Sheffield on Lowedges council estate. It was a tough place to grow up. My abuser often called it "the gutter" and threatened to "put you back in the gutter you came from". My parents were older and poor but they were hard working and I never went without food or clothes. My aunt and uncle took care of me a lot. when they couldn't as they drank quite a bit.  My uncle instilled in me a need for an education and helped to push me and push me. I read a lot as a kid.

My dad was very political. I learned my politics watching him watch the news. He once threw his shoe at "Pudding Face" as he called Ted Heath and of course he hated Margaret Thatcher with a passion. He was a shop steward. A steelworker. I was very proud of him when he got angry and brought the men out on strike. He did this a lot in the seventies and early eighties. I remember his boss coming round after he died and I was proud that my dad had never ever backed down to him and that man knew it.

Mum worked in a factory too. She wasn't political at all and had really struggled at school. She sort of followed around in Dad's shadow and there wasn't a lot of time left over to keep an eye on me so I just did my own thing really. I was a fighter. I fought boys a lot. On that estate .... you either fought or ran and I am a terrible runner.

But I was a socialist through to my bones. How could I be otherwise? The estate was predominantly white but when I began going to the youth club kids from the other side of the city used to come over. They had better records. Northern Soul was the thing and the black lads who visited had all the good stuff. I didn't understand racism until then. I just saw music. I started seeing a black lad and a neighbour told my dad who hit the roof. Then the local thugs started to come and attack the youth club and demand "give us back our white girls or we will kill you niggers on your way home" and it was terrifying. We had bottles thrown through the bus windows as we travelled together over to estates on the other side of the city where afro-carribean communities predominantly lived. We had gangs chase us through town at night. I was called a "nigger-lover" and I knew racism then. I was the "property" of white boys. I was "stained" because I went out with black boys.

I left home because my dad wouldn't sign my forms to stay on to further education. I signed on the dole and went to college. You could do that then. You could go and learn stuff. I did my A levels and dad died shortly before I finished. In fact he died the night before one of my exams. I passed. I got an A. Because when you grow up fighting, you don't know how to stop.

I stayed behind instead of going to Uni in Manchester so that I could be around my mum. I met and married a miner. We went through the Coal Not Dole protests together. I went off to University after we got married. We split amicably as we were so young and went our separate ways. He was a lovely bloke and we are still friends. I worked and I bought my own house and I was doing ok. I was happy. Independent. I was me. I was a Labour Party member. Not that active. I was a feminist. More gobby than activist. But I knew who I was. I was strong.

And then I met my abuser. He targeted me probably because I was strong. But he sniffed something else in me too. I think it was my upbringing and not being cared for too well. Anyway - most of that I've written about before. 15 years of it. I got gradually smaller. Broken bones, name-calling, control, bullying, etc etc. I'm not going over all that again. But I got lost. I mean really lost. He delighted in changing me completely. I became a sort of puppet. I gave birth to and raised a beautiful daughter so I kept fighting. I kept trying. But I got deeper and deeper into a surreal world. I did whatever I thought would make him happy. I changed to whatever I thought would make him love me. I spouted his politics sometimes to keep the peace. This I am more ashamed of than anything. He loved Thatcher. Some of our worst arguments would start with me standing my ground until I either went quiet or..... I once convinced him to vote Labour and he never let me forget it. He needed revenge for that. I became a dead thing smiling. There were no lights on behind my eyes if anyone looked. No one looked. I didn't recognise me. Every one still thought I was strong and confident. Was I hell. I was barely keeping my head above water. I kept trying to get out. Trying to find ways. I signed up for a Law Masters Degree thinking eventually I might be able to support myself but he made me give it up calling me selfish and saying we couldn't afford it. Shortly afterwards he bought a Porsche for himself.

I kept going. He made me open a rug shop. I knew nothing about rugs or shops! It was ludicrous. I have a career I could have gone back to but he wouldn't let me. Here I met the best woman ever to walk this Earth. My beautiful Helen. I loved her from the start. And she loved me. My abuser ended that eventually. He stopped me from seeing her by poisoning our relationship with lies. I didn't see her for a couple of years in total. I missed her every day. When the rug shop didn't work he made me work within his business where he could keep a close eye on me and control me. He said I was useless at it. But he made me keep doing it anyway. I was totally brainwashed. I stopped being me. And then I did a crazy thing. I thought he would be proud of me and leave me alone if he could see I was doing the things that would please him. I thought it would give me a break from his abuse. I joined the local Tory Party. I am more ashamed of this than anything I have ever done in my life. It makes me cry with shame. In my defence ... I actually did some reasonably good things and I stayed a feminist as best it allowed. (Planet Cath - some of you know her - once said and I quote "you're the only Tory I've ever liked") I quickly worked out they were a bunch of mildly-racist poor-hating losers at best, but I also realised that the City was being sold down the line by a really ineffective Labour Party who poured finances into contracts they didn't understand and I fought them on this. Our PFI contract with AMEY is one of the worst things ever to happen to Sheffield and I campaigned against it. Our contract with Veolia was signed erroneously with the Lib Dems years earlier and I poked and poked and uncovered the millions that had been overpaid. No one cared really but I was proud of it. One of the other things I did was to run Nigel Bonson's campaign for South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner. This is when I came up against Shaun Wright. The Shaun Wright who was eventually stripped of his post and expelled from the Labour Party. Way, way too late. I never let that go. I dug and dug and dug. I unearthed the evidence that he was complicit in covering up child abuse in Rotherham and had been doing so since his time as head of Children's Services. I found the evidence of possible corruption around his selection process and his being Vice-Chair of the Police And Crime Panel appointed by one of the subsequently convicted grooming gang's relatives. I confronted him with this at every single public hustings. At the election count his wife cornered me and told me she would "make sure you get what's coming to you now Shaun is elected". Secretly I was told that the pressure I was putting him under had put his marriage on the rocks. I didn't care and continued to campaign against him and eventually Andrew Norfolk's stuff hit the press. At this point I felt I could finally shake the stink of the Tories off me without letting anyone down and I walked away. I kicked out my abuser at the same time. I marched back to me so fast I was dizzy. I almost immediately rang my Helen at this time in 2013 and it was like we had never been apart. We had our own language we two. I will never have a friend like her again. My heart is slightly broken right now. I didn't get enough time with her. She died a few weeks ago.

Eventually along the way I met my beautiful Sidekick. I won't name him. he doesn't need the abuse. He's a gorgeous, intelligent, kind man who is mad as a box of frogs, fit as all the world and totally gets me and all I am. I adore the bones of him and thank the sky each day that he is in my life.

So I hope you'll forgive me for the mistakes I made when I was being abused. I really do. Because everything I have done since has been for women. I like to think I have proved myself. I have never sought fame or anything like it. I just do my stuff. I fought the Ched Evans thing for a long time and I raised the money to help his complainant. I'm proud of that. I would do it again tomorrow despite it bringing Goggins to my door. I have always worked hard to support women exiting abusive relationships. A lot of the time I do this when women approach me by DM. I never refuse women my time. I was given a hard time at one bit in 2014 because a woman spread some malicious gossip about me. I ignored it and carried on doing my thing. At this time women leaked my details to Goggins including details from my Facebook like the name of my daughter and my cats. I really wish those women hadn't done that. He uses it constantly. I won't put my own or my daughter's name here. Lots of people know them I don't need to broadcast it. I don't hide my identity any longer. My face is easy to find. I'm no longer anonymous. My cats are Stanley and Woobie. They hate Goggins too and frequently do little craps in the shape of his saggy old body.

So now Goggins has nothing. He can't expose anything about me. I've been investigated by my work. My ex husband knows who I am and stalks my profile relentlessly - (he will be reading this which makes me feel sick but he can't disagree with a damn word of it however hard he puffs out his little chest. It would stand up in any court in the land. The police have all of this on file. I hope his friends read it too and look at him a little differently. They probably won't). Ched Evans fans genuinely don't care any more and have moved on. No one is coming to kill me.

And that's it. That's how you take back control. You own the thing they think scares you.

I will never be scared of any man ever again.

Peace sisters x

Friday, 2 November 2018

Emma Humphrey's Prize. My Speech.

My thank you speech read by Shonagh Dillon.

(The words are mine and no dissatisfaction with those words should be aimed at Shonagh who agreed to read them for me. )

Thursday, 11 October 2018

A Gentleman In The Ladies


We have been told not to discuss loos. Especially women's loos. It is apparently the height of transphobia and fascism and we are immediately aligned with Donald Trump. Or some crazed religious right wing group who hate everyone. All of this is utter nonsense to stop us speaking about everyday concerns for women if men are allowed into our loos. 

Here is a blog where women refuse to do what they have been told. They are discussing women's loos. 

As part of the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which will allow for "self-identification of gender" women have many worries about how this will affect them. We are very concerned about what this will mean and it is this. 

Any man who wants to call himself a woman can go online and fill in a form for a small fee and then he can change the "sex" on his birth certificate and "Hey Presto" he's a "woman". 


Women will have to let this new "woman" into our single sex spaces including women's refuges, rape crisis centres, single sex hospital wards, changing rooms, domestic violence help groups, and yes... our loos. 

He can retain his penis as 80% of trans women already do. He needs to make no changes to himself or his behaviour... AT ALL. He doesn't need to wear a wig or a dress. He doesn't need to shave or wear make-up. He doesn't need to chop off his testicles. He doesn't need to speak with a high voice.  He can simply declare himself a "woman". And he's in. 

Women don't need to do these things either. But we *are* already women.

However, the comments below also reflect women's concerns about "gender neutral" loos which are a resulting "compromise" to excluding trans women from women's loos. Which we have been told is unkind. 

Well. Women are unhappy. Lots of women are unhappy about this and we are being made to feel guilty for talking about it at work, or in public or in restaurants and bars. But actually .... lots of women don't use a rape crisis centre or a refuge. But we all use loos. This is what I found when I asked women how they feel about men in their loos. Any men. This is not about trans women. It is about women's experiences of men. Of women's girlhoods. Of their need for the safety of a place where they take down their knickers and change their tampons and sanitary towels. Of the places women feel alone sometimes. Of the places where women attend to the functional biological needs of their female bodies. 

Some of this may shock you. Some of it might make you laugh. Some of it will make you angry. If you are a woman ....you will nod your head a lot. 

So here we are.... women talking about women's loos. And we are NOT ASHAMED....

“I don't believe women are generally comfortable with people who are clearly male- bodied using female facilities. We have single -sex facilities for good reasons”

“I went in to the female toilet at a local college recently & a young man was in there teasing / irritating / harassing (depending on your POV) female students. He wasn't a 'risk' as such. He was just an entitled male enjoying his power. A small but distressing non-incident”

“A transwoman once asked me if he could borrow my lipstick in my local gay bar toilets. I said no, and he loudly accused me of being transphobic”

“Regular experience (male cleaners) tend to receive a brief nod and acknowledgment that they're there.
If other women aren't around or if the "creep" radar pings then I leave instantly.
I was sexually assaulted in a unisex toilet when I was 13 and have never felt safe since”

“I never said anything because a) I was afraid they might turn violent & b) depending on the type I feared they'd be attacked in the men's which would make me feel guilty. But it wouldn't have been my fault, it would have been the violent man”

“They never asked any of us did they? They just walked in and took advantage of us being smaller and conditioned to be "kind". They seem to feel even more entitled than the average man, funnily enough”

“I used to work in IT as a manager and this was back in the days when I believed the propaganda about trans women being oppressed. Part of my team worked on a site where the adjoining building had been closed. There was no ladies toilet in the building still in use so they left access to ladies in the other building for the occasional user, (some shifts there wasn't anyone using it). There was a transwoman working in a different team on shift work who was older than me and a junior grade to me. He would try and engage me in chitchat in the kitchen which I avoided as there was an aggressive edge in his manner to me and he seemed to have a 50s view of womanhood that I didn't share. He was also a foot taller than me and muscular build. When we were both in the office it felt like he would follow me to the ladies when he saw me go and would always try and engage me in conversation in the ladies. I didn't know him, and had no reason to engage at work as when he had a request of my team he was supposed to deal directly with my onsite team. One time he stood so he was physically blocking me from leaving the ladies and forced me to have some inane 'girly' conversation, (about makeup I think) before moving. I knew the building was deserted and it was clear to him I wanted to leave. I was too afraid to try and push past as I was never going to win a physical tussle so I had to pretend and take part in this conversation to fulfil his fantasy of how women talk in the toilets before he moved aside and let me leave. I felt afraid and also furious that I was being forced to *perform* in his fantasy. After that incident I never spent a full day at that office again and always ensured I went to the toilet before visiting so that I didn't have to use the ladies there. It was over 10 years ago, an incident he probably gave no more thought to and an incident that I thought HR would not take seriously and would rebound on me so I didn't report it. It was also an incident that I tried to avoid thinking about when I was being a good little ally as it didn't fit the narrative. In retrospect I'm relieved I didn't realise at the time many trans women retain their penis as the situation would have been even more scary”

"V long time ago. 2 transwomen with their female friends. I looked over, trying to be trying to be friendly (I was very young). One said 'what the fuck you looking at?' He suggested beating me up but was disuaded. He went to prison for murder later."

“The George Bar in Dublin used to have an open policy on men in the toilets. It was all great fun until a woman was brutally raped a few years ago. They stopped men from entering the women's toilets for a few years, but have since bowed to pressure, but have staff present now”

“In June this year at the ferry port in Calais in the early hours.  It was totally empty apart from him and he was between me and the exit and he looked like he was not a particularly nice fellow. V scared. Went back in stall, locked it and got husband to come to door and meet me. He heard that and scarpered. Was v scary experience and if a woman had been there alone I dread to think what might have happened. Port authorities said they’d keep their eye out, but they were swamped in security issues so couldn’t give it priority”

“When I was 13 a man walked in off the street into my all girls school and sat in the toilets.   It took us a while to work out what to do.  We notified a teacher.  When the teacher came he walked very calmly away.”

“I used a mix sex bathroom. 3 men stood right outside my shower cubicle, i could see their feet under the door gap. They then crowded round me right on my shoulder- watching me as i brushed my teeth at the sinks.”

“Local counselling service which deals with drug and alcohol misuse as part of their service has turned their toilets into unisex. The toilets are upstairs which is very quiet. I had to use them today - I was on my own in there and a man who was clearly a substance misuse patient was in there too. I didnt even bother washing my hands - as a DV/A and rape survivor I was deeply uncomfortable.”

“Man at work had just declared himself to be a woman and demanded use of the ladies (no other transition...clothing still blue jeans and grey hoody etc) and a woman voiced that she was not happy sharing the toilet. She was told by managers to use the toilet downstairs in a different office and department. Men's feelings always over women's feelings! Obvs no one else comfortable but legally we have to as far as I understand”
“Working at the (then) Kentish Town Forum in the noughties, I saw a bloke go in the ladies. Followed him in, asked him to leave. He put his hand in my face and ordered me out. None of my business and he was 'gay anyway' he said 'the girls' didn't mind, he said. Not what the faces of the women standing behind him told me. He continued to face me down till my male manager heard the commotion and told him to leave. He then obeyed”

“Ladies' toilet (daytime) on an surface level Tube station. Man with cubicle door unlocked, trousers round ankles. I think tbf he was more alarmed than I was. Still upsetting”

“Unisex toilets in a petrol station; one toilet only which was engaged.  Man exited and looked slightly embarrassed to see me. When I went in I realised why... spent 5 minutes cleaning up after him before I could go to the loo.  Revolting.”

“I went into the Ladies at Gatwick Airport and noticed that the toilet seat was very wet. I then realised it was urine, not water. Not just a few splashes, but well soaked. Took a lot of loo roll to mop it all up and dry the seat. Someone could have sat on that! Disgusting”

“The trans woman who's not quite woman enough to understand long lines at theatre intermission & yelled at us to 'hurry up'.”

“It’s a recent one actually.  My mother who is well in her 70’s  and is a very petite lady told me that on a bus trip to a nearby town, she popped into Greggs (I think).  She went to the Ladies and was shocked to find them to be gender neutral toilets as a large burley male was exiting.  She was too scared to go in.  She said there is absolutely no way she would use toilets where males are allowed in.  She doesn’t know a lot about the GRA although I’m peaking both her and my dad as much as possible. She’s not the most confident person and unlikely to change now, but older ladies need thinking about too, not just these young “woke” lot who think they’re being so inclusive!”

“I was sexually abused as a child by an adult male in a locked toilet & as a teen by an adult male & I was raped twice in a train toilet. I am traumatised by men in toilets, as happened last year when I entered the ladies & a man was urinating in a cubicle with the door open”

“Do I try to give other women eye signals to let them know that a man is in the next cubicle?Do I loiter to let a female know what I know?I feel angry and sick and unsafe.I am a female,I have no right to fear for my safety or the safety of other females it seems”

“I froze when I saw that man in the ladies, I walked out distressed, he came out & I said That's the ladies! he just shrugged. I can accept anyone into women's toilets, as long as they don't have a penis, because for most of my life, penis has mostly been a weapon”

“Was in public loos and felt my neck hairs rise. Up beside me(5ft3) came a big bloke(6ft+). Tbf he slipped in his heels & I said: Rubber bottoms. He turned, thumbs up: Got it. The point is I shouldn't feel like this & he needs a unisex/disabled loo cubicle & respectfully use it.”

“walking home from school across the park with my friend there was this flasher guy outside the public toilets, naked, and trying to get our attention, kind of waving himself around. Of course after that we changed our route and felt scared about the whole thing. I really don't want boundaries removed so that people like him would exploit it and feel able to be inside the toilets too”

“friend of mine had a man put his hand up her skirt when she was in the cinema (aged 11 I think?) Again, the toilet is a safe space to flee to, without any of those worries that women/girls are plagued with about being polite and not upsetting anyone. The guy could have quite easily followed her in if the rules were different :(     “

“I used to work for an LGBT charity -a male member of staff starting calling himself by a female name and over the next few months grew his hair started wearing makeup false nails skirts etc one Saturday I went into the ladies toilets -I was the only woman in there -he just followed me in there and went into the next cubicle -I was so shocked & scared I stayed quiet in the cubicle & just waited until he finally left -I only used the disabled lockable single toilet after that -one of the reasons I left the organisation -other staff would talk about "terfs" openly in the office”

“In my experience of clubbing, the women's toilets were the safe space where women went when the men got grabby, creepily persistent and threatening. I saw several women hiding from violent boyfriends in them”

I was in the queue for the ladies in Selfridges in London and person walked in in a tight white lycra dress, obviously male, hugely tall, square jawed but beautifully turned out if you know what I mean? Little breathy fluttery voice (like John Ozimek, but not him), giggly, just not how women behave in the queue for the loos on their own. Anyway, two Muslim women immediately left, and then I noticed that his enormous erection was clearly visible through his dress, no attempt to hide it, just a kind of belligerent smile. One by one all the women leave (except me, because I'm next and fucking busting, pelvic floor aint what it was) and he just stands there staring at them as they go. Women coming out of the cubicles clock him and leave having just shoved their hands under a tap. Everyone is very aware the whole time of his presence. Like on one of those nature shows where the herd of deer suddenly realises there's a cheetah nearby and every one of them goes into flight mode?

London Metal Exchange dinner. The married client I was with followed me into the ladies, pushed me into a cubicle, sexually assaulted me and demanded a blow job. I managed to push past him and escape. When I told colleagues what had happened they said I was lucky as he was "very attractive".

"happens every bastard day at university. Literally some fucking 8 foot tall rugby type in leggings and a tunic saunters in and everyone leaves"

"I'm already vulnerable through disability. I can't run away, or fight any more. I would feel very wary of where I go and when I go. My disability already constrains me. I would feel even more constrained."

"The ladies' loos were always a safe sanctuary from creepy guys in pubs and clubs. (Also, a huge proportion of miscarriages occur in public toilets. Many girls have to deal with their very first period in public toilets.) We need them to stay female-only!"

"Recently my 12 year old daughter ashen faced came back from toilet at a restaurant saying 'mum there is a man in the cubicle standing up with the door open. ' he didn't care. No one said anything. I DID"

"Was in bookstore women's restroom with young relatives.  TW was leaning forward taking one leg out of fishnet stocking.  Penis was exposed, and tho the top was still on, I could see augmented  breasts hanging down thru the plunging neck line of blouse"

"as a 16yr old girl went to toilets in train station. half undressed when realised a man was looking over and started to climb over. thankfully i was able to pull pants up and run fast. lucky i had friends near by, and man ran off. a lucky escape for me"

"A transwoman joined my local sports club and our mixed sporting group. After walking in on a very upset naked lone woman in the communal showers/changing room - the women just stopped using the facilities. They also cancelled their annual sports weekend."

"I was followed into the womens toilet as an 18 year old by a man, he pushed me into a stall.  luckily a bouncer had seen him follow me"

 "walked into converted unisex toilets. saw urinals, albeit empty. walked out."

Women are being forced to accommodate men in our toilets and changing rooms and we know the risks of that. As you can see here we also know that women's bodies have different needs and that the way men behave in toilets sometimes is not compatible with those bodily needs. We object to being forced to use "gender neutral" loos that erase our single sex space. We object to accommodating males with a penis - however they identify - because we have experienced the violence that comes with male bodies. We object to any change in law that will allow any man who says he is a woman to enter our loos when we know that isn't safe for ourselves or our girls. 

We object to being told we cannot object. 

This is not ALL about toilets. But it is ALSO about toilets.