Founding Prospectus of the "Association for the Protection of Women's Space”
September 18, 2021.
In the Diet, the "Act on the Elimination of Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity" (No. 12 of the 197th session of the House of Representatives) is currently under examination, and the Liberal Democratic Party is discussing the formulation of a law to promote ‘LGBT understanding’.
We believe that everyone has the right to pursue freedom and happiness, and that these rights should be respected. However, we believe that there is a need to have a thorough discussion about the wider social implications of ‘gender identity’ of transgender people (the ‘T’ in LGBT).
In particular, we are concerned about whether women's spaces, such as women's restrooms, will be protected, and this is why we have established this group.
We are now worried and fearful that if this new law is enacted as it currently stands, it will seem as if any man who ‘identifies’ himself as women, will be granted the right to use any female-only bath or restroom.
In the explanation of the bill to the press, the government assured us that men simply cross-dressing as women would not be able to access women’s spaces. However, in practice how could they stop that from happening? In reality, it is entirely possible that any man would be able to go into a woman’s changing area ‘dressed as a woman’, and women wouldn’t be able to challenge that for fear of being accused of ‘discrimination’.
Apart from being incredibly insulting to women, that ‘a woman is a woman because she is dressed as a woman’, this overly simplified view of the expressions of womanhood denies the ‘gender diversity’ of womanhood. And it is clearly self-contradictory. Some women have more ‘masculine’ presentations, but it doesn’t make them any less of a woman. Similarly, some men present more ‘femininely’, but it doesn’t change their biological sex. We believe that everyone should be respected and not discriminated against due to their physical presentation.
In Japan, the "Law Concerning Special Exceptions to the Treatment of Gender Identity Disorder" was enacted in 2003, and around 10,000 people have already undergone gender reassignment. (Surgery is a requirement to legally changing gender). It is a valuable law that guarantees the right to pursue happiness for each individual.
However, the issue with this new iteration of ‘gender identity’ is completely different from how we previously understood it. Some people may not be able to legally change their gender because they are underage, or they cannot have surgery due to health reasons. However they can still claim to have a ‘gender identity’ (with no GID diagnosis), and this would be legally protected under proposed new legislation that would enshrine ‘gender identity’ protections in law.
However, there are many "transgender" people who do not suffer from gender dysphoria and are not even thinking about surgery.
The bill only defines ‘gender identity’ as ‘the perception of one's own gender’ and does not limit it to people with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
In other words, the part of the bill that relates to ‘gender identity’ is often misunderstood by the public as an extension of the "Act on Special Provisions for Gender Treatment of Persons with Gender Identity Disorder”.
It is essentially a new bill, based on a new concept of ‘gender identity’ that is completely different from that definition that was used in the previous bill.
Think about it. Even if it is an ideological law, it will have a huge impact on women, and any male who ‘identifies’ as female, will effectively be able to enter any women-only spaces.
And it's hard to distinguish from the outside between those who ‘identify’ as women and men who are simply cross-dressing, or even those who come in for nefarious reasons. Just as some men may be dangerous, so too may some ‘self-identified women’, or some cross-dressing men. The point is, we have no idea who they are.
Statistically men pose a threat to women. We know not all men, but some men. Therefore the long-established safeguarding principle of separating the sexes has been relatively successful at reducing sexual crimes against women. But when we let some men ‘self-identify’ as women, we provide a loophole that any man can exploit. Including those with predatory intentions.
It is not discriminatory of women to be concerned about this, especially since we have already seen many examples of it happening. It is reasonable to expect more regular occurrences going forward, as a result of this new redefinition of the word ‘trans’.
However because of the current environment, women may not feel like they can report suspicious people for fear of being labeled ‘discriminators’. As a result women may feel less safe and may refrain from using these facilities. And they may not have the confidence that reports will be taken seriously by the police.
On 12th December 2019, the Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff (a male diagnosed with GID), who took his employer (government agency METI) to court, for the right to be able to use the women’s restroom.
However on 27th May, 2021, the Tokyo High Court overturned this ruling, when they correctly pointed out that this is a situation where the rights and legal interests of men who ‘identify as women’ clash with the rights and legal interests of women.
The first ruling, in favor of the plaintiff in 2019, was limited to the situation of using the women’s restroom at the plaintiff’s workplace (not public women’s restrooms generally). Although the plaintiff did have a GID diagnosis, the plaintiff had not had surgery, and was therefore not legally a woman.
According to the rulings of both the District Court and the High Court, it is clear that if a person simply ‘identifies’ as a woman, they should not be allowed to use a public women’s restroom. As the law currently stands, they need to have had surgery and changed their legal gender.
However with this new proposed law that the Diet is considering, it is possible that any man who is ‘dressed as a woman’ would be allowed to enter any women's space. In fact, there is a risk that men ‘dressed as men’ will be able to enter freely because ‘self-identifying as a woman’ has nothing to do with how a person ‘presents’. Such problems have already occurred in other countries.
Women's restrooms and other women's spaces have been won by women, after years of fighting for them. Since most sexual crimes are committed by men, these hard-won spaces are an essential part of safeguarding for women and girls.
Men are, on average, physically stronger than women. So whether or not an individual male person is a threat to women or not is irrelevant. The mere presence of a male body in spaces where women are changing or bathing, would make a lot of women feel uncomfortable.
If any male person can have access to women's spaces, simply by ‘identifying as a woman’, there will be an increase in the number of sexual assaults. Crimes such as being dragged into private rooms to be assaulted, being the victim of voyeurism or eavesdropping, or the theft of used sanitary products from sanitary bins will increase. These concerns are even more important when regarding young girls or women with disabilities, who are even more vulnerable to sexual violence.
On the other hand, men who ‘identify as women’ say that it is difficult for them to enter men's restrooms because they feel uncomfortable with other men. It is apparently painful for them to be ‘misgendered’ as men, as their ‘gender identity’ is that of a woman.
Compare the weight of the legal interests of these two groups. Isn't it obvious that the legal interest of women, should be more protected? The feelings of men (irrespective of how they ‘identify’) should not take precedence over the physical safety of women and girls.
Accommodations can be made to respect the legal interests of men who ‘identify as women’ in other ways. For example, more single-person ‘all-gender’ facilities can be provided. Or there can be a third ‘all gender’ space that can be provided in addition to the usual male and female spaces. Or indeed the men’s toilets can be rebranded as ‘all gender’ and the female restrooms can remain female-only. In doing so, it would allow men of various diversities to use the restroom comfortably. In this way, the legal interests of women and trans- identified people can be secured.
In an article at the beginning of the proposed bill, it states that the ‘gender identity’ of a person should be respected. This could easily be interpreted that any person who ‘identifies as a woman’ can enter female-only spaces. Therefore it is imperative that there is clarification on this.
There are also many other issues surrounding ‘gender identity’ in addition to women's restrooms. These include problems in women's public baths and hot springs, domestic violence shelters, fairness in women's sports, entrance into women-only colleges, parity in political parties, so-called ‘women's quotas’, women’s prisons and the Self-Defense Forces, and in government data collection. Confusion in the medical field is also expected.
Some of these issues may be discussed and decided separately from the proposed bill, but there is no doubt that there are many issues that need to be fully discussed in the Diet. It would be a violation of the duty of the Diet to push ahead with this bill, without fully considering all of the potential problems that may occur, because of their political ideological aims. The implications of this bill will deeply impact the lives of all women and girls in Japan.
There has been some tolerance for men who ‘identify as women’ in the past, because it was a rare occurrence to encounter them in the restrooms, and women didn’t want to hurt their feelings. However this is not to say that their presence did not make women feel uncomfortable.
But now that the bill is being considered, it is imperative that we make it clear that men who ‘identify as women’ or men who cross-dress, should not be allowed to use women's restrooms.
In addition, we request that the Diet stop at this point and fully deliberate on the issue of ‘gender identity’ while engaging in public consultation on the issue.
This is the prospectus of our Association.