“The concerns people have about trans women now are the same concerns previous generations had about gays and lesbians.”

Many transgender activists work hard to draw a superficial comparison between the desire to exclude male people from female spaces and the desire to exclude gays and lesbians from public spaces entirely. But the similarity here is purely formal – the only thing they actually have in common is a basic structure of, “If we let X into women’s spaces, bad things will happen” – and the fact that some people in the past incorrectly believed one group posed a serious risk to vulnerable women doesn’t give us any reason to think there are no other groups that could pose a risk.

In other words, this objection is really no more reasonable than responding to someone who is concerned about lead in the water supply by pointing out that some other conspiracy theorists are concerned about fluoride in the water supply. In that case, the obvious response would be to say that lead and fluoride are relevantly different substances, and that, while concerns about fluoride are unwarranted, concerns about lead might not be. The response from advocates of sex segregation should be exactly the same: While we have no reason to believe that homosexuals pose a unique danger to members of their own sex, we have endless evidence to suggest that male people pose a risk to female people in particular. This relevant difference is enough to make comparisons between the two positions unreasonable.

Further, this generally illogical rhetoric is especially absurd when it comes to this particular situation. In reality, the arguments being put forward today by radical feminists and others who defend sex segregation are the exact opposite of earlier arguments put forward to exclude gays and lesbians. Homophobes in the latter half of the 20th century argued that some people should be prevented from using facilities set aside for their sex because of their sexuality; radical feminists and others are arguing, instead, that all people should be required to use the facilities set aside for their sex despite their gender identity. In other words, homophobes of the past (and, sadly, the present) thought that sex segregation should be overruled if an individual is not heterosexual – and it is precisely this overruling of sex segregation that radical feminists and others oppose in the case of trans-identified people. Therefore, an absolutist commitment to strictly separated male and female spaces is the position most consistent with opposition to the exclusion of gays and lesbians.