LGBT Policy

Providing Access to Sex-Segregated Systems and Services

by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate, reporting on the Philly Trans-Health Conference

Every trans person has to struggle with accessing sex-segregated services. We have to deal with formal and informal restrictions to certain spaces, and face opposition from people who vehemently don’t want us to be there. The organization FORGE in Milwaukee for trans people and their allies led a great workshop on the subject.

There are several places that segregate: DV shelters, bathrooms, health or fitness gyms or classes, schools, hospital rooms, OB/GYN and urologist offices, sports.

There are many reasons for it: tradition, convenience, privacy (body privacy and shame), assumption of fundamental differences in gender, tailored services to gender services, perceived safety, funding (federal funding is often segregated by gender and/or sexuality)

In reality, 1 out of 3 sexual assault survivors are men and perpetrators of trans people are 2/3 of the time men, yet trans people are often placed in sex-segregated spaces that typically aren’t desired fits if they are even accepted at all.


Working with systems or create something new

When screening at sex-segregated systems, evaluate whether services are available. If so, then ask the client if that would be comfortable and a good fit. If there aren’t services, access the core needs of the clients’ needs/wants/other options

Ask if needs can be met by other providers not as rigidly defined by gender, ask can patient bring someone, are there other options than hospital stays, are there relatives or friends to stay with rather than shelters.

Great resources:

Network/LA Red (Boston) has phone support groups for LGBTA individuals, RAINN (Minnesota) has online support, FORGE has a SV-survivor listserve (national).

Here are some other excellent FORGE resources on this topic:

Taking It on the Chin: New Fast Facts about Violence Against Transgender People

What You Should Know: About Violence and Harassment Against LGBT Individuals 

Taking It on the Chin: New Fast Facts about Violence Against Transgender People

Criminal Justice? Fast Facts about Transgender People, Police, and Incarceration

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