by Julie Bindel
Monday, 11
May 2020

Why are we placing high-risk trans sex offenders in women’s prisons?

It creates a dangerous environment for female inmates
by Julie Bindel
Exterior view of HMP Downview, the women’s prison which set up the E Wing in the wake of the Karen White Scandal. Credit: Getty

Female prisoners are some of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised women on the planet. Most have suffered some type of male violence and end up in prison as a result of chaotic behaviour and substance abuse, which stems from childhood sexual abuse and neglect. Disproportionate numbers have been through the care system.

The women’s estate is the poor relative of the men’s, with far fewer resources. Why was the first dedicated wing set up to contain high-risk sex transgender offenders placed in a female rather than male prison? E Wing in Downview Prison, Surrey, was set up in the wake of the Karen White scandal. E Wing prisoners sleep and shower separately from the women but are allowed to mix with the female population during some leisure activities. Why could E Wing not have been set up in the men’s estate?

E Wing was previously a unit for assisting up to 16 women preparing for release. These women have now been returned to the general wing, and therefore lost hard-earned privileges.

I have campaigned on behalf of women in prison since co-founding Justice for Women in 1991, and am furious that these women now have to worry about attacks from transgender sex offenders as well as male prison staff.

Bearing in mind the high numbers of women suffering from trauma caused by abusive men, it is particularly shocking that the Prison Service (PS) consider it a workable solution to place high-risk transgender sex offenders in women’s prisons.

According to official Prison Service figures, transgender prisoners are five times more likely to carry out sex attacks on inmates at women’s jails than other prisoners. There have been seven recorded attacks since 2010 by transgender prisoners, and these figures don’t even include those prisoners who have legally changed sex.

In a report published in October 2019 by the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, it was clearly stated that: “Individuals managed by HMPPS (PS) are able to self-declare that they are transgender and are supported to express the gender (or non-gender) with which they identify, with staff using correct pronouns.”

Despite the PS claiming to have considered the rights of all those in custody alongside transgender sex offenders, stating that “These risks must be considered fully and balanced against each other,” the policy fails to balance the rights of female prisoners and transgender inmates. Ultimately, it places the rights of trans-identified male bodied sex offenders above those of women in fear of male violence.

Join the discussion

  • Interesting. It is your supposition that women are merely dickless men. That a man can “become” a woman by having his p***s removed and *poof* he’s a woman??? No. Born male, always male, housed in male prisons. Male prisons can created safe and appropriate housing for their fellow males. It is not a problem that is rightly foisted off on women.

  • I completely agree with Julie that trans men should not be placed in female prisons until after their transition is complete. If they were placed in prisons for men until that time, everyone would be safer. But what are the origins of this policy?

    Historically it begins with the argument that gender is a “social construct”. If that is true, then differences between men are women are a kind of illusion constructed by society, one that can be disregarded provided that one is aware – woke, if you prefer- to this social construction.

    From that perspective, an individual can choose his/her gender. It is not a biological fact of individual psychology, but an artifact of a patriarchal society.

    The origin of that belief comes from feminist dogma itself which insists that all gender differences are merely part of the apparatus by which females are oppressed. One is not born with a female psychology, but rather trained into it, a kind of performance.

    It is also essential that the true believers accept this dogma without interrogating it too closely, because it is necessary to explain away gender differences which might be the underlying reason that men are dominant.

    It would introduce a alternate explanation to show why the feminist victim narrative might simply be wrong. We might actually have to introduce sociobiological explanations based on evolutionary theory instead.

    You know, that science thing.

    But having swallowed this tabular rasa nonsense, feminists then find themselves trapped in a self-contradiction.If gender is just a psychological, social construct, then why doesn’t gay conversion therapy work? Since sexual preference is a main aspect of gender, and gender is fluid, then sexual preference should be malleable.

    But it isn’t. Gay conversion therapy doesn’t work because being gay is biologically innate in some people, just as heterosexuality is innate in the majority.

    Second, if gender isn’t biologically determined, then men who claim to be women have as much right to that gender identity as cis women, don’t they? Aren’t they just throwing off the shackles of patriarchy?

    And so here we are with feminists like Bindel claiming that gender is fluid, but that men who claim to be women have no right to identify as such and to be placed in women’s prisons.

    But both beliefs can’t be true. Either gender is innate, gays are biologically constructed, and men and women are innately different; or gender is fluid, gay conversion therapy is possible, and men can decide to be women.

    You have been hoist by your own petard, Julie, and you dont like the logical implications of your own beliefs.

    But that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Feminism has been based on willful hypocrisy for decades. Its just nice to see feminists like Bindel finally being the ones squirming to explain away their own self contradictions.

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