When I entered the change room at my pool the other day AquaFit had already started, so it was deserted. Before i even got my jacket off, a woman entered. As I turned to say good morning she abruptly froze in her tracks, the complete double-take, her whole face scrunched up in horror and fear. I was about to speak, when a woman who I do know to see, and who knows me, came round the corner and threw me a friendly good morning as she went to her locker. I watched the furrowed lines of the other woman smooth before my very eyes. The horror faded and she even smiled, was shy but friendly, though it was clear she didn’t know the other woman, and she and I didn’t speak the same language, but she KNEW the second woman belonged and so her acceptance meant every thing.
So my point is, when you are somewhere gender specific, washrooms, change rooms etc. and someone enters who you think might be challenged, or you feel the vibe of extreme discomfort that often precedes anybody saying anything, the most minimal of good day would likely be enough to head off any challenges or freaking out.
If it’s already too late for that, speaking up would always be a good thing… anything affirming this woman’s right to be there and your belief she IS a woman. Very rarely do strangers say anything. I’m always left wondering if they, too, think I’m a man, or do they not want to ally themselves with the freak in the piece…or are they just so shocked by the whole confrontation that they don’t know how to deal. Except my friends, the only “interveners” I’ve ever known have been in support of my “accuser,” and usually with more nastiness…perhaps their own “gender shock ” in play.