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Martial Arts & Transgender

07 February 2019

So, my husband has a fulltime martial arts center, we’ve been going for 30 years so survived many shifts.

I have just had my first call asking what toilet a transgender would be expected to use …

I have to admit, it caught me off guard, which resulted in bumbling through the call. It hadn’t even occurred to me to think about this commercially.

I believe in equal rights – including the right to represent yourself however you choose BUT it also includes the rights of those who don’t fancy sharing a toilet & changing facility with someone who is not the same sex.

A personal discussion just considers MY opinion but commercially, we have to consider everyone.

I concluded the quandary of mixing idealism with reality, which is difficult to do…

To be clear this isn’t a quandary about training which is unquestionably inclusive. This is a specific question as to the toilet & changing rooms. Although on the subject of training – competition would definitely require conformity…

Females may feel uncomfortable with a man in their changing room or vice versa.

Males may feel uncomfortable with a man dressed as a woman in their changing room or vice versa.

Transgender may feel uncomfortable having to represent themselves by their biological gender.

This is not a debate on your personal thoughts on this subject, nor is its purpose about witch hunting anyone – this is a bit more practical. Like, what actually do we do?

The simple answer would be that whatever you are biologically & are legally, dictates the decision, but I still think that there are significant barriers still to overcome on that one – if a biological & legally defined male presents themselves as a woman, you know you are asking for some resistance by insisting they use the Gents – equally, it isn’t our call to insist someone conforms to how they present themselves!

Or, let everyone use the changing room that they feel comfortable in – but then what about making sure everyone else is comfortable?! There simply doesn’t seem to be a solution to keep everyone happy.

So, we scapegoat the revolution & look at the commercial aspect & prioritise the majority. It feels like no matter which solution we pick, we risk discrimination towards someone!

The idea of open mixed toilets & changing rooms doesn’t work for me, not personally or commercially. This isn’t an option I like, which at this point annoys me, as then I feel forced into using a solution, which I fundamentally disagree with.

We live in an ever-changing world. We are seeing lots of encouragement for acceptance & again, this isn’t about whether you agree with it so much as how do we handle it? The Martial Arts industry offer a service to general public, so we do need to consider those changes, but be commercially motivated, not personally.

I have to admit I’m disappointed for not having an inclusive progressive answer that doesn’t promote judgement or discrimination…

I also have to admit, the brutal truth is that I was also a little relieved that the enquiry didn’t follow up, so we didn’t actually have to deal with it…

I’d love to hear experiences from either Instructors & students!

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