Before public accommodations for women became widely available, women were bound by the “urinary leash”, meaning that a woman could not leave her home for long periods of time because there were no private or female only public bathrooms. By 1920, many states had passed laws requiring public accommodations for women on the basis of sex. The rationale was that women and girls had the right to safe, private bathrooms outside of their homes. This rationale was also used to create female-only shelters, hospital wards, and locker rooms. With the creation of these spaces and resources, more women and girls have been able to fully participate in all spheres of public, educational, social, and professional life.
Accommodations based on the ill defined and nebulous concept of “gender identity” are in direct conflict with women’s right to female only spaces. In Virginia, anyone can claim to be a woman and be granted access to female spaces. Women and girls need separate spaces not on the basis of our identities or how we dress, but because we are female. Our privacy and safety matter. Our consent matters. We say “no” to the erasure of our spaces.