In her research on shelters for women, Mirha-Soleil Ross discovered that the refusal of services to a [trans] woman was justified on the grounds of the “safety” and comfort level of the other women residents. Ross argues that this concern over “safety” does not extend to [trans] women: “If I have fear and concerns for anyone’s safety in a shelter, it is for an isolated [trans] woman, not for a [cis woman] who doesn’t have to prove to anyone that she is a woman.”
As Ross so eloquently explains, this rationale absolves shelters of their responsibility in educating themselves and their residents about the diversity of women’s lives:
Even the argument that [trans] women should be excluded for their own safety is not acceptable on a long term basis. Just like any other form of prejudice and discrimination, if some [cis] women are threatening the safety of a [trans] woman because she is [trans], it should be dealt with immediately and efficiently. The [cis] women should be confronted about their own ignorance and violence. I don’t see why [trans] women should be restricted from access to such vital services because of somebody else’s transphobia and hatred.
Like the policies in homeless youth shelters, the [trans woman] in question is singled out as the “cause” of this “problem,” or the reason [cis] women in the shelter will not feel safe. This focuses attention on the [trans woman] and neglects the real issue at hand: the provision of services to those in need."
Viviane Namaste, Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People (via transfeminism)