Her decision is about optics, not female safety
Scottish Justice Secretary Keith Brown has announced that there shall be no trans prisoners with convictions for violence against women transferred to the female prison estate, with an urgent review to be conducted into future policy.
Shortly thereafter, Brown offered his profuse apologies to the feminists demonised by Nicola Sturgeon and the female prisoners who had to share space with violent offenders such as Katy Dolatowski. Only kidding. The feminists are still bigots and the female prisoners are still irrelevant.
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This decision is not about female safety. After all, the very idea that male people, not just “predators”, pose a threat to women hasn’t even been acknowledged. It is about optics.
The real victims here are not female prisoners. They’re not even trans women, who usually get to out-victim anyone with a vagina. The victims are Sturgeon and the MSPs around her, who are now forced to backtrack on their insistence that there is no risk to anyone in allowing individuals to be treated as whatever sex they claim to be.
Feminists have been telling them this for several years, only to be treated as fear-mongering idiots who haven’t quite grasped that rapists “do not need” to be classified as women in order to rape. It took someone like Isla Bryson/Adam Graham to convince them that perhaps not everyone will view a male rapist as a woman on his say-so.
It is difficult to imagine how Graham’s victims felt when he was described as a “vulnerable” person whose “path to becoming the female gender” should go “a long way to acquitting her of these charges”. That was fine. If, like Dolatowski, Graham had stayed off the front pages, perhaps this might have been one of those issues that only pearl-clutching feminists cared about.
While it is promising that a spotlight has been thrown on female prisoners’ safety and dignity, I am wary of the outcome of the forthcoming review. That is largely because of the ongoing refusal of those in power to identify maleness — not “predatoriness” — as a risk factor in and of itself.
Nor do I necessarily trust the input of “experts in women affected by trauma and violence”. Just as the absence of a conviction for violence against women is no proof a man has not been violent, the absence of a recognised history of victimisation does not mean a woman is less affected by the presence of male people in a confined space.
It seems incredible to me that, at this point in history, it is considered necessary to “investigate” whether male people are sufficiently violent as a class to merit a blanket exclusion of male people from certain spaces (which Sturgeon has in any case made clear she does not want). That a recent report has found that Scotland has more trans prisoners in women’s prisons than England and Wales combined makes it all the more troubling.
I doubt she can wriggle out of this one out in quite the way she’d like. But considering that someone who claims to be “feminist to my fingertips” is demanding that we start all over again, this is not cause for celebration just yet.