by Debbie Hayton
Tuesday, 11
January 2022
Spotted
13:30

Lords amendment on single-sex prisons withdrawn

Women are vulnerable in the prison estate, but many still doesn't understand this
by Debbie Hayton
Baroness Clare Fox

Amendment 97ZA of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently at the House of Lords doesn’t exactly sound like front page news. But the motion, moved by Lord Blencathra and debated and subsequently withdrawn last night, revealed the still-confused state of the debate around transwomen.

According to Blencathra, the amendment would “provide that all prisoners should live in accommodation provided in consideration of both their sex registered at birth and their gender identity.” In the chamber he added:

The female estate is a definitive example of a space that should be single-sex. If women in prison cannot be guaranteed single-sex spaces, no woman or girl can. Hospital wards, changing rooms, rape crisis centres, refuges and toilets in schools—I am talking about anywhere where women and girls, for reasons of dignity, privacy and safety, require single-sex spaces.
- Lord Blencathra

But where would that leave transwomen like me? I might have been “registered male at birth” but my body has undergone significant upheaval since then. Long before the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, transwomen were quietly accommodated in the female estate. In 1989, for example, Stephanie Booth was incarcerated at Askham Grange women’s prison.

But even in the 1980s I suspect nobody consulted the female prisoners about the loss of their single-sex accommodation.

By 2017, there were 125 transgender prisoners in England and Wales, 60 of whom had been convicted of one or more sexual offences. The Karen White fiasco then exposed the failings of a system that put women at risk (White, a convicted rapist, sexually assaulted two women).

Responding last night for the government, Lord Wolfson pointed out that, “we learned the lessons of that and since 2019 there have been no such assaults.” But this is about more than safety; dignity and privacy matter greatly to women.

Unfortunately, Blencathra’s argument went down poorly with those who have swallowed the ideology that transwomen are women and, presumably, should be lumped in with women. Without a hint of irony, Lord Herbert — who opposed the amendment — said, “it is a decision about whether we are to be guided by ideology or pragmatism and, I would suggest, compassion.”

Yet as Baroness Fox pointed out, “the solution should be to make the male estate safer and fit for purpose for all … the purpose of women’s prisons is not to protect vulnerable males”.

After the debate, Fox told UnHerd that the debate “felt like a good dose of gas lighting. They were describing a world that doesn’t exist and accusing us of making up a world that does exist.” Quite.

Women are vulnerable in the prison estate. So are transwomen, but we are not the same as women. Being accommodated separately from men does not mean we should be accommodated with women. Blencathra was right. Last night he withdrew his amendment but in closing he said, “The battle for common sense and the rights of women will intensify.” He was right about that as well.

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Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
7 months ago

Sensible commentary from Debbie Hatyton as usual.

Last edited 7 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Karl Francis
Karl Francis
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Agreed, Debbie Hayton’s perspective is vital right now. Women and girls must not lose their right to privacy, safety and dignity. I’m with you all the way Debbie, much respect to you. You are a beacon of decency, intelligence and genuine thoughtfulness. Thankyou.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
7 months ago
Reply to  Karl Francis

Debbie is to be commended for giving a voice to what I suspect is the substantial silent majority of non-insane trans people just trying to get through their lives as best they can without being traduced by the blue-haired fascists purporting to speak for them.

N Forster
N Forster
7 months ago

” it is a decision about whether we are to be guided by ideology or pragmatism and, I would suggest, compassion.”
Then clearly Lord Herbert does not understand what compassion is. It is the wish that I, you and others be free from suffering. In this application Herbert directs their compassion to only the trans person wishes, and acts with indifference to the imprisoned women.
Indifference and compassion can not co exist. They are mutually exclusive. Compassion directed only to one group is not compassion. It is indulgence.
Herbert would do well to learn that compassion should be balanced with equanimity – the understanding that people will suffer. Especially when their wishes, desires and perceptions are at odds with material reality. Without this understanding, unbalanced compassion falls into both grief and anger. Of which there is no short supply.
If a trans prisoner is to be treated with compassion, how would it look? It would involve them being imprisoned with other trans prisoners only, and would involve the trans prisoner having the opportunity to learn, practice and develop tools and techniques that allowed them to cope better in a world that is not in accordance with their preferences. This would show true compassion towards them, and to the women with whom their presence would be otherwise forced upon.

Last edited 7 months ago by N Forster
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
7 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

I agree with your analysis.

Last edited 7 months ago by michael stanwick
Karl Francis
Karl Francis
7 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

‘Lord Herbert’… really??? Seriously? A bloke called Lord bloody ‘Herbert’ gives his worthless view of compassion which works directly against the safety and dignity of women and young girls??!!!
I’m spitting feathers over here!
How about Lord Herbert and the Tijuana Ass! Senile old pillock!

Andrea X
Andrea X
7 months ago

“According to Blencathra, the amendment would “provide that all prisoners should live in accommodation provided in consideration of both their sex registered at birth **and their gender identity.**” ”

What does the last bit mean?

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

You would need to ask Lord Blencathra, but I suspect it justified the proposal for separate accommodation for transwomen.

Andrea X
Andrea X
7 months ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

He may have been confused too when drafting of the amendment, then…

William Cameron
William Cameron
7 months ago

We have nurses in tears as males with penises claiming to be women expose themselves on women’s wards.
And an NHS that brands women patients who object to having a fully equipped male in the next bed (when the woman patient is ill and vulnerable)- as transphobic.
This needs to be stopped. There are very few women claiming to be men seeking to go onto male wards or into male prisons. The vast majority are males trying to get into women only places.

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
7 months ago

Suppose we said that only trans women who had completed their transition could be placed in women’s prisons, i.e. only those who’d had surgery and no longer had male equipment? I suspect that most or all the sex offenders placed in women’s prisons still had a penus and would change their mind about being trans if that was a requirement for being treated as a woman…

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
7 months ago

Dear Debbie (?)

Women are vulnerable in the prison estate. So are transwomen, but we are not the same as women.

I like this usage, but I could live with ‘not the same as other women’. Just out of curiosity, what is your personal preference? Would you prefer to say that trans women are not women, despite the name, or that they are women the same way that stepmothers or adoptive mothers are mothers, i.e. only in some ways and for some purposes?

Last edited 7 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Andrea X
Andrea X
7 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

This point has been elaborated at length in the past.
Debbie is a man who likes to present as a woman.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
7 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I would say that depending on how they present and the number of years they’ve lived as women, probably including the commitment of surgery, trans women are ‘honorary women’ just as stepmothers, adoptive mothers and in-laws are honorary. That means we all understand the difference between biological and trans women but out of friendliness and respect for individuals we know, we treat them as the gender they present. Some things are best left as informal, but the ideologists by trying to force the issue are destroying the informal ways we navigate the existence of trans people. So attitudes are hardening into two camps: either a coerced pretence that trans women are women or, on the other hand, a refusal to treat any established trans woman as anything other than a man, defensively falling back on biological essentialism.

Last edited 7 months ago by Judy Englander
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
7 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Yes. I’d just go a tiny bit further. I have adoptive mothers in my family, and they would (I think justly) take quite a bit of offence at anyone claiming they were mothers by courtesy only, and not ‘real mothers’. For mothers we can manage to accept adoptive mother as real, without pretending they are in all ways identical to classical mothers or have the automatic right to be included in all contexts. Something similar, and, yes, informal, would be very welcome for gender too.

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
7 months ago

How I long for the days when one could at least assume the sex, if nothing else, of who one was talking to, sitting next to, sharing intimacy or a cell with – I had hoped that prison might be a safe haven if ever my pension fell short of accomodating the essentials of daily living. Alas, even that last security has been stripped away as we find ourselves on the thick end of Pandora’s gaping Box. Perhaps today’s youngsters are more comfortable with all these shinanigans? Take me Home, Lord; I’m well and truly over it.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago

But this is about more than safety; dignity and privacy matter greatly to women.

At least the debate is getting beyond “safety”. In most cases, and for most women, this is probably more about privacy and dignity than it is about safety.
Most female only spaces are likely to be safer than a dark street at night, regardless of whether the space is being used by the very occasional transsexual.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
7 months ago

Debbie, dear oh dear, I am disappointed, and you call yourself a teacher (tongue firmly in cheek, lest there be doubt). Try reading the strap line again (do editors really not bother doing their job ?) and then please put it into English.
Why should anybody else be bothered reading an article if even the author, or editor, can’t be arsed ?
“but many still doesn’t understand this”

Last edited 7 months ago by Tom Lewis
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
7 months ago

This new trans agenda is such a joke…

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
7 months ago

Sadly not funny to my 80 year old friend in a 4 bedded ward with a man in the next bed. Or the women in rape crisis centres paralysed with fear at the sound of a male voice? And no, castration and inversion of the p***s still doesn’t make a man a woman. Testosterone’s effects are irreversible.