Jessica Yaniv’s War On Female Spaces

The Jessica Yaniv “trans-waxing controversy” is a sorry, sorry state of affairs. I suspect there will be only losers when this bizarre case reaches its conclusion. But something important is also at stake here and that is the distinction between the public and private space.

Yaniv has been called a “bad faith troll” and I think that nickname is well-deserved. Having seemingly appeared to have undergone absolutely no treatment for gender dysphoria, Yaniv still expected to be welcomed with open-arms into women-only spaces. Unless one is of diminished capacity, no adult would consider that a reasonable request.

Whilst it is a social injustice that women (including transwomen) are excluded from public, intellectual and spiritual spaces, that is not a credible argument for desegregating private spaces that offer intimate services or services to vulnerable people. These spaces are different in substance, nature and the intent behind their segregation is not one of discrimination.

Were an adult to ‘identity’ as a five-year-old and demand access to playgrounds and schools, no one would make the argument that said adult’s exclusion from those spaces was age discrimination. That would clearly be a child safety issue, not an act of any kind of discrimination. The thresholds for entering those spaces are reasonably high.

Gender segregation in the case of establishments such as beauty salons, barbershops, spas, healthcare centres, swimming pools, toilets and changing rooms exists for the sake of the comfort and safety of those using them. I live in the Middle East and there are many spaces that are gender-segregated. Yet, I, a proud-feminist, feel no injustice at being excluded from men’s barbershops and spas.

Until this case came to my attention, I had never even thought about entering those distinctly male spaces. Male grooming providers and female grooming providers coexist happily side by side. I do, however, feel injustice when women are excluded from public buildings such as embassies, religious establishments and government service providers.

Yaniv’s motivation appears to be to challenge the boundaries and distinctions between public and private spaces in the name of identity politics. If the threshold for claiming a new identity is as low as to simply declare oneself, then to allow transactivists to erode safety measures designed to offer physical safety, comfort and privacy to women is misogynistic and inherently vulnerable to abuse.

We should not allow arguments against gender segregation designed to exclude women from public life to be used by people trying to enter private spaces that have been gender-segregated for the sake of safety and comfort. Perhaps this case may offer a silver-lining; a better understanding of what the threshold to enter women-only spaces really needs to be.

Thank you for reading — I hope you found my thoughts interesting. Agree with me? Don’t agree with me? Let me know either way: @Sayde_Scarlett

Author and poet.

Author and poet.