The following was contributed by one of our members, Evie Hill.
John is in his mid-fifties and is a middle-class, white professional. He enjoys frequenting women’s shops in order to satisfy his fetish for wearing women’s underwear. This is a true account of what he has told me.
John has found one particular women’s lingerie shop that allows him in early, and shuts its doors to other customers whilst staff attend to him.
He has spent a lot of money in this shop over a three year period, maybe longer. They will do made-to-measure underwear, which he requires as he has the body of a man. It is a specialist women’s lingerie shop run by women who are all expert dressmakers.
John chooses a design and female staff make it to fit his size. Then he goes in for a fitting. This is a day of great excitement for him. He says he particularly enjoys standing in the lacy outfit whilst the shop assistant, a woman, makes sure it fits OK. Then she has to adjust it and pin it carefully which he finds particularly thrilling as she touches him near his penis. This makes him aroused. He also finds it fun. His arousal continues for some time afterwards. He says the shop worker spends a lot of time on him and he really enjoys her perfectionism. He enjoys the fact that the member of staff must view him in his outfit as part of her job. This is also particularly arousing to him. He calls the shop assistants ‘the girls’. He sprays himself with perfume before he visits.
John prefers specialist boutiques because they fit with his image of himself as a classy, upmarket woman. He identifies as a woman during the times that he is in his underwear, however when he is in his suit at work he identifies as a man.
I think of the women who would normally use this shop. The ones who need a new bra and a fitting, after breastfeeding; a mastectomy; weight loss or weight gain. Normal things that happen to women. I think of one of them trying to get to the shop in that rushed hour between dropping kids at school and before going into her office and it being closed because he is in there. Her old bra digging into her all day at work, and it being a week before she can get another free hour. I think of the shop assistant and how she feels having to keep a valued customer by making sure the lace knickers she has made fit properly round his swelling penis. I think of how much money he has spare, to spend, compared to how much I would ever spend on underwear. Mine is functional, cheap. His is expensive.
But the bottom line is – he has every right to do this. He identifies as a woman, he has every right to be in this space. In fact this space is his space.
Some of the concerns about allowing trans women into women’s sex-segregated spaces have centred around the fear of sexual assault from men who could simply say they are women in order to enter or remain in that space. There are concerns that gender self-ID will encourage that.
My true story of this man is aimed at highlighting the fact that there is already a threat within women’s spaces. That there are men who are in these spaces already because it gives them a sexual thrill to enter them and use them as women. They have done this for years. But I think this is a problem that self-ID will exacerbate.
Where once these men might have been kicked out for lingering, now they are within their rights to stay and challenging them is a hate crime. I already think these shop assistants are terrified to kick him out, of losing the valued customer, who is spending hundreds more than the average, and terrified of seeming to be bigoted. And this is without self-ID.
The sexual fetishism of trans women is a taboo subject. Not all trans women are sexual fetishists. But some are. And the clothing shops, the dressing rooms, the gym changing rooms, these sanctuaries that women and girls use are all part of their sex lives, and the women inside them are props in their fantasies.
But they identify as women. They have every right to be in these spaces. These spaces are their spaces.