When it comes to undressing in front of others, it shouldn’t matter whether a person verbally identifies as male or female. Verbal statements don’t change biological facts.

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A FEW months ago, the state of Washington decided to allow people to choose locker rooms based on an internal sense of whether they are male or female instead of sticking with the longstanding, sensible practice of designating locker rooms for use by men or women based on clear biological realities. So it should come as no surprise that a man walked into the women’s and girls’ locker room to change at a public pool on Feb. 8.

When the man walked in to undress, the locker room was occupied by women and members of a girls’ swim team, presumably in various states of undress. Quite understandably, some of them “became alarmed” and complained to the Seattle Parks and Recreation staff. Although the man said “the law has changed and I have a right to be here,” the staff asked him to leave the women’s locker room, which he did.

So, was the man allowed to be in the women’s locker room or was he not? Seattle Parks and Recreation issued a statement suggesting that the man would not have been asked to leave if he had simply verbally identified as a woman.

So let’s get this straight. If the same man, under the same circumstances, had only said, “Relax ladies, I’m a woman, too,” the Parks and Recreation staff would have allowed him to use the women’s locker room? It sure seems that way. Why would they stand for that? Because it’s actually what the law seems to require.

But would the man’s statement have made the previously “alarmed” individuals suddenly comfortable with his presence? Would the man’s body have looked any different to the young girls as he undressed had he merely professed to be a woman? Would such a statement eliminate the dignitary, emotional, and psychological harms a woman suffers by having her unclothed body viewed by a man against her will? Of course not.

A man can say he’s a woman until he’s blue in the face, but when he undresses in a locker room occupied by women and girls he violates their privacy, potentially exposes male anatomy to innocent young girls, and risks triggering significant trauma for any women or girls who bear the scars of sexual assault.

For these reasons and more, our society has long recognized that biological realities demand that males and females not be forced together when bathing, changing clothes, using the restroom, or engaging in other activities where privacy is compromised. This common-sense belief in modesty and privacy—not animosity toward any demographic—impels our society’s insistence on separate locker rooms and restrooms for the two sexes.

Ultimately, when it comes to undressing in front of others, it shouldn’t matter whether a person verbally identifies as male or female. Such verbal statements don’t change biological facts. But state bureaucrats have turned a blind eye to rubber-meets-the-road realities and entered the land of make believe. Regrettably, the price Washington women and girls are already paying for this fantasy is far from imaginary.