Female activists took a group of male swimmers by surprise on Friday evening when they attended a men-only swim session wearing just trunks and pink swimming caps.
Amy Desir, 30, was one of the two women to gain access to the south London pool session, as part of a protest against proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which would enable men and women to choose their own gender.
Both women explained their attendance to staff at Dulwich Leisure Centre by saying they “identified as male” and subsequently had the right to be there.
Amy Desir: ‘Misogynistic and homophobic pro-self-ID policies are allowing men to appropriate women’s spaces, services and positions’ (Amy Desir)
They also used the male changing rooms before going into the session and were later asked by an elderly man if they realised it was a male-only session.
Their actions form part of a nationwide campaign formed on Mumsnet called #ManFriday which encourages women to “self-identify” as men every Friday in protest of the proposed amendments to gender laws, which would enable people to self-identify as men or women.
“The aim of the group is to raise awareness among men of the misogynistic and homophobic pro-self-ID policies that are allowing men to appropriate women’s spaces, services and positions,” Desir told The Independent.
“Most men either aren’t aware of the issue or don’t think it has anything to do with them.”
There are currently 91 women taking part in #ManFriday, revealed the mother-of-two, all of whom self-ID as men every Friday to access men-only spaces.
“We don’t change anything about our appearance, or pretend to be in the process of transitioning, just state that we are men.”
Desir and her fellow campaigners are concerned that the proposed legislation would enable predatory men to abuse women in single-sex spaces by self-identifying as female.
“We want to challenge the idea that sex and gender are interchangeable and for organisations to use the lawful exemptions in the Equality Act to protect the rights, safety, dignity and privacy of women,” Desir added.
“We also want women’s organisations to be consulted on proposed changes to the law.”
Let’s start with this statement: I am not going to justify women having their own spaces. Thousands of women, some I know, most I don’t, fought the fight for women’s spaces before I was born so that I, and other women in the UK today, don’t have to. Thanks to them, women’s rights, protections, spaces, and services exist to facilitate women’s participation in social life by upholding and protecting our safety, privacy and dignity. Programs and offices reserved for women seek to redress systemic discrimination against women that puts us at a disadvantage compared to our male peers.
If you are a UK citizen, you can sign the government petition here (because it is set up via the UK government, they, in theory, have to take notice; it currently has over 8000 of the 10,000 signatures needed).
The government proposes to amend the law to allow people to self-identify as men or women, and to stop allowing organisations in sensitive situations to exclude people of the opposite birth sex. We call for women to be consulted on how to protect women and girls’ rights, safety, privacy and dignity.
We call for:
– Respectful and evidence-based discussion about the impact of proposed changes and for women’s voices to be heard.
– The government to consult with women’s organisations on how self-declaration would impact on women-only services and spaces, data-gathering, and monitoring of sex-based discrimination.
– The principle of single-sex spaces to be upheld – and where necessary extended.
The Daily Mail has reported on this as well, and this quote towards the end of the article is effectively admitting that this is about letting any man into women’s spaces:
Bernard Reed, a trustee of the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, said: ‘This case demonstrates that women may enter men’s spaces, just as men may enter women’s spaces.
‘Simplifying the current unduly onerous and degrading process of obtaining a gender recognition certificate will just make life easier for trans people.’
In a bizarre (not) case of reversal, tans activists are calling these women sex offenders:
While the response from the Mermaids organisation was unsurprisingly daft:
I also found via tumblr, screen grabs that suggest Swim England’s policy was/is that female bodied persons who identify as male can only swim in binders (which they claim is safe, which I can’t believe) or some other covering – women are not allowed to complain about penises in the women’s changing rooms, but breasts in public are obscene! I can’t currently find this on Swim England’s website, but the colour scheme matches, and I did see a tweet saying Swim England was examining its policy.
To finish, here’s another ManFriday tweet: