A domestic abuse survivor spoke of her horror after checking into a female-only dormitory in a London hostel to discover a man dressed as a woman was also staying in the room.
Sue Boardman travelled to the capital on May 28 to attend the Let Women Speak event, where one of the issues being discussed was safe spaces for females.
The 55-year-old from Shropshire had booked at two-night stay at the Astor Victoria Hostel in Pimlico, central London, in a female-only dormitory.
But when she arrived at about 10pm, one of the other guests informed her that a man dressed as a woman was also staying in the room and had been found sprawled out on the bed half naked.
Ms Boardman, who suffered years of domestic abuse, said while the man was not in the room at the time, his belongings were still there and she feared he might come back when she was asleep.
‘Man sprawled out on bed, half naked’
She told The Telegraph: “I was just about to go to bed when one of the other women informed me that they had discovered a man dressed as a woman sprawled out on the bed, half naked, with his male genitalia on display.
“They said they had complained and the hostel had agreed to move him, but he had gone out for the night and his stuff was still there. So I was terrified he might come back at any time.
“Having suffered 23 years of horrendous domestic abuse, the whole point of me booking a women-only room was for safety and security from any men.
“I wasn’t sure whether it was a mistake or whether it was the policy of the hostel to allow men who identify as women to stay in female dorms. I just had a panic attack and got out of there as quickly as possible.”
Hostel’s goodwill gesture ‘an insult’
When she contacted Astor Hostels to complain, she was offered a 50 per cent refund as a gesture of goodwill, which left her feeling insulted as she had been forced to spend hundreds of pounds finding alternative accommodation late at night.
Ms Boardman said: “It is ironic that I was in London to attend the Let Women Speak event where we were discussing safe spaces, and then I experienced exactly the sort of thing so many women are worried about.
“I am really fearful that the safety of women and girls everywhere is being put at risk by men who are not truly trans, but are deliberately invading female-only spaces.”
It was understood that the man was dressed as a woman when he arrived at the hostel and had booked the room under the name Alisson.
‘Reception error’ blamed for incident
A spokesman for Astor Hostels said: “We have investigated this case. In this case, due to an error at reception, a guest was checked into the wrong room. As soon as our staff became aware of this issue, the guest in question was moved to a mixed dorm.
“Our policy for female-only dormitories is that only those that are legally recognised as female are permitted to stay in them.
“The safety and security of our guests is of paramount importance, any issue they or any visitors experience can be reported to our 24-hour reception, which will act on it immediately.”