IT was a burp that gave him away. A loud, thoroughly unladylike belch. My friend and I paused, and exchanged a look. But it wasn’t until I had entered the neighbouring cubicle and sat down that I realised he was hiding in the toilet rather than using the facilities.

Would it have been possible to raise the alarm at that point? It’s not a crime to stand behind the door of a toilet cubicle. There are no rules stating that toilets must be used exclusively for bodily business as opposed to hiding, crying, or simply taking time out. There is also no rule at Glasgow’s Tramway arts venue governing who is permitted to enter each set of ground-floor toilets.

Some might say this detail is irrelevant. Many’s a time I’ve heard a defender of “gender-neutral” (ie mixed-sex) toilets make the argument that determined predators would never be deterred by rules, laws or social conventions from breaching a women’s space and committing sexual offences, and that objections to the re-designation of women’s toilets as open to both sexes are therefore nothing more than poorly disguised transphobia.

Many determined predators do indeed ignore the rules. Of course men violate all sorts of boundaries in the course of committing sexual offences. However, this was the first time in my 37 years that I had encountered a man hiding in a toilet, waiting to follow a woman out of a cubicle. Was it simply a coincidence that this happened in formerly female toilets that were recently declared open to all? I don’t believe it was ... but then I would say that, because I’m one of the feminists currently fighting to protect sex-based rights. Not only that, but I’ve written about the need to protect sex-segregated spaces. My first properly articulated thought, once he’d fled and my brain had reset itself, was: “No-one’s going to believe this.”

But that’s the thing about sexual offenders – they don’t discriminate, or at least not on the basis of a given woman’s op-ed writing history. There’s a glaring problem with the dismissal of women’s legitimate concerns as moral panics about bogeymen hiding in toilets: those bogeymen actually exist.

When I got to the sinks I made sure to get him in my eyeline in the mirror. As soon I did, he dodged to one side. I moved, and he did it again. When I turned to face him he stood still, eyeballed me, and lowered a hand to the button of his trousers. Once he’d got the reaction he wanted from me, he fled.

Of course, not all men who use “stalls-and-sinks” toilets do so with sinister intentions. I imagine the man who subsequently entered with a buggy and a toddler had made a conscious choice to avoid the neighbouring space containing urinals. Ironically, he was probably trying to keep his family safe. Even as I stood, stunned, processing what had just happened, my female socialisation kicked in. Rather than asking this man if he would mind waiting outside for a couple of minutes, I apologised to him for repeatedly saying “f***ing hell” in front of the children.

After a few more deep breaths, I headed to the entrance desk to report what had happened. I had barely begun speaking when the young staff member informed me that there had been no other complaints. I hesitated, confused, then provided a description of the man and asked if he had just left. Yes, I was told, he had – and he had been noted to be “circling the space” earlier in the day.

READ MORE: Gender Recognition Act debate is being used to roll back trans rights

There was mention of contacting a manager, but no move was made to pick up a phone. “You should be calling the police,” my friend said firmly. It was then suggested that I might like to write in a comments book – an offer I politely declined. That female socialisation again: don’t raise your voice, don’t swear or make demands. Don’t go getting hysterical about it. And remember: no-one will believe you anyway.

Or even if they do believe you, they might not have much sympathy for you. When Tramway’s move to mixed-sex toilets attracted press attention last summer, the communications manager for Glasgow Life, which runs the venue, took to Twitter to respond. After comparing women with concerns about sharing toilets with men to xenophobes uncomfortable sharing with foreigners, he was asked if he was mocking Glasgow Life visitors. “No,” he replied. “I’m making light.”

Is it any wonder junior staff think it appropriate for reports of sexual offending to be dismissed as isolated, or logged in a comments book, when this is the message being sent from above? Is it any wonder that police officers responding to my call within hours, and sharing my statement with the Special Investigation Division, is brushed aside when no charges result?

Asked to comment on Glasgow Life’s response, a spokesman said: “We treat any and all allegations of inappropriate behaviour with the utmost seriousness. In relation to the complaint, within minutes staff at Tramway alerted Police Scotland, who have confirmed that they are not taking the matter further. Any allegation of criminality is a matter for Police Scotland and by alerting them to the complaint, staff acted as expected.

“We are sorry that Ms Craven did not feel the initial response was appropriate – in addressing those concerns, we will ensure that all staff understand what action should be taken if there are complaints with regard to inappropriate behaviour.”

Women are pushing back against an assault on their freedoms – including the freedom to attend exhibitions, gigs and plays without fear of harassment or assault by men in toilets – but when it comes to the crunch, how many risk being fobbed off or disbelieved? It’s like #MeToo never happened.

I still can’t quite believe that this – the specific thing so many of us have been warning about – happened to me too. How many more times will it need to happen before attitudes change?