A WOMEN’S rights group has expressed concerns for the safety of guests staying at a Highland hostel after one of its bloggers was able to book herself into a male-only dormitory.
Inverness Youth Hostel in Victoria Drive allowed Trina Budge to stay in a men’s room after she told a receptionist she self-identified as a man.
She went on to write a blog post about her stay and said she is concerned women could be at risk as a result of people taking advantage of the self-determination policy.
She said: "There are huge concerns over safety. When you book a single-sex room at a hostel you expect it to be exactly that.
"We are not anti-transgender but we are concerned there are people who will take advantage of the policy.
"There’s a danger that people who are genuinely transgender will become scapegoats because of people who abuse the policy.
"I have emailed Hostelling Scotland with regard to what happened and have asked to discuss with them how they plan to protect the needs of all their guests."
Mrs Budge’s blog post included a screenshot of an email in which the hostel revealed it did not have "a specific transgender policy" but would book accommodation "based on how our guests choose to be recognised".
A spokeswoman for the Highland LGBT Forum said: "The hostel decided to take her at her word. I don’t think that was the correct decision.
"A person who identifies as a specific gender will always try and present themselves as such.
"This woman found a loophole in the way the hostel treats transgender people. It’s a difficult problem, and the youth hostel need to look into it.
"The important thing that stuck out in the original blog post was that Hostelling Scotland does not have a specific transgender policy.
"They allocate rooms based on how guests choose to be identified but people who genuinely are transgender will present themselves as the gender they wish to be recognised as."
Despite the incident, Hostelling Scotland insisted that it will maintain its policy.
A spokesman said: "Hostelling Scotland is an organisation open to all and we treat all our guests with respect and dignity. Our approach remains unchanged.
"Hostelling Scotland recognises that gender presentation is a complex issue but we are confident that our accommodation offers safety and peace of mind for all our guests.
"We welcome around 380,000 people each year who value our sensitive approach to their needs."
Highland Council said the matter of self-determination was one for individual businesses to decide.
A spokesperson said: "Single-sex services should respect people’s gender identities and should not blanket-ban people undergoing or who have undergone gender reassignment from using their services or facilities, so this would be done on a case by case basis."