Domestic violence shelters: Gender recognition changes ‘would have no impact’ on services

A detailed study of women’s domestic violence shelters has found that many are already trans-inclusive, and that proposed legal reforms will not impact their services.

The government has proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act to allow transgender people to more easily gain legal recognition as their preferred gender.

Self-identified ‘Gender Critical feminist’ voices in mainstream media outlets have repeatedly claimed the changes would made women-only spaces unsafe for women.

But a report into experiences of women’s domestic violence services this week has underlined that those actually providing services to women do not have significant concerns about the law, and many are already inclusive of trans women.

File photo. A mother and her child in a domestic violence shelter (GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty )

The research, conducted by nfpSynergy and commissioned by Stonewall, is based on in-depth interviews with representatives from 15 local domestic and sexual violence support services across Britain.

The report states: “[The research] found that domestic and sexual violence services in England and Wales have been supporting trans women in their single-sex women-only services for some time.

“Participants take a personalised, client-centred approach to supporting trans women, as they do for all survivors. Many described steps they are taking to proactively deliver trans-inclusive services, including creating specific policies and delivering staff training.

“Participants said that many staff and member services have responded positively to discussions about supporting trans women. Most recalled positive experiences of trans women accessing their services and where other service users have been supportive.”

File photo. Silhouettes representing women victims of violence (JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty)

It adds: “Recalling instances where challenges have arisen, services described how they engaged with staff and service users to build understanding for trans survivors and ensure that a safe and inclusive space was maintained for all.

“Many participants told us that reform of the Gender Recognition Act would have no relevance to how they deliver their services.

“While respondents were aware of a view that gender recognition reform could allow violent men to pose as women to access their services, with one participant expressing a concern about this, there was otherwise a clear consensus that services’ thorough risk assessment procedures would safeguard against this.

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