A frustrating aspect of my website is that when people write in, there's no trace of an email address so no way of getting back to people, and also no way of publishing their messages. However, I received such a nice response to my article just now that I'd like to include it here. It's from some who for the sake of confidentiality (in case it's needed), I will call 'L':
'Thank you so very very much for this article. It's clear, empathetic and important. As a natal woman I am so grateful for a fight for trans rights that doesn't trample on my rights in the process.'
For me, this is the kind of response I was hoping for. I think it shows that there are plenty of (natal) women out there who want to support trans rights, but simply can't support our attempt to dismiss a universal (natal) female experience, and accordingly, how we approach the issue of women-only spaces and their function as a safe space for (natal) women. Women-only spaces need to be seen for what they are, with this safe-space function for (natal) women, including how they're like to feel when they see people with male significations entering the space.
This isn't to say trans women can't access women-only spaces. But it does mean we have to be clear what we mean by 'trans women.' For me, this would allow trans women whose profound gender dysphoria translates into transitioning and whose bodies distinctly experience the transformation towards becoming trans/transsexual female bodies. But de-medicalized self-identifying (and potentially male-bodied)? Drag? Transvestites? Non-transitioning non-binary femme? Non-binary male who uses they/them pronouns? In a safe-space area for (natal) women, many of whom are likely to have encountered male violence over the course of their life, it is unfair to give the green light to anyone who identifies with femininity or female 'appearance' or feels an empathy with women and accordingly demands the right to use women-only spaces. For that, we need a separate space, a third space. Women-only spaces are not 'Feminine spaces,' they're (partly) safe-space areas for (natal) women who live in fear of male violence.
Acknowledging and embracing this fact, I think, is really important now for the progress of trans rights. We have to work with (natal) women, not against them, and this includes listening to them and responding to and acknowledging their concerns.