by Victoria Smith
Monday, 30
January 2023
Reaction
15:24

Why I don’t trust Sturgeon’s U-turn on trans prisoners

Her decision is about optics, not female safety
by Victoria Smith
Nicola Sturgeon at a Pride parade. Credit: Getty.

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.

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Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
1 month ago

I have stated from the beginning that this entire trans movement is all about denigrating and dehumanising women and taking away the equal rights we have gained during the last 100+ years. It commodifies women and womanhood into something that can be bought with medication and surgery or now even just a declaration. I simply cannot comprehend how women themselves can have become such traitors towards their own sex. Yes, I call it treason and the women who support putting males in female institutions traitors. They deliberately and carelessly, for whatever reason–ranging from stupidity to a hunger for power, put fellow women at risk. To me this is utterly unforgivable, and I shan’t ever forget that betrayal. I keep very close track of who has been an outspoken proponent of this vile nonsense, and I will remember those names! Thank you, Unherd, for your honest reporting and for keeping us/me informed about the latest developments.

Max Price
Max Price
1 month ago
Reply to  Katja Sipple

The “entire trans movement is all about denigrating and dehumanising women and taking away the equal rights. Solipsistic nonsense. It’s affects are felt right across society and victimise everyone. I do however agree that it has a terrifying effect on women that urgently needs to be addressed but this is a fair bigger issue than the feminist angle.
It’s somewhat disheartening but unsurprising that feminism, by definition I suppose can’t see the bigger picture. Although I am in favour of any resistance to this monstrous ideology. Go team TERF!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 month ago
Reply to  Katja Sipple

Well said. We need to start using profanity-laced bluntness in our dealings with the woke scum. Preface every conversation with authority with the statement that you do not tolerate woke, and that any attempt to introduce it will result in your total non-cooperation. Tell your work colleagues advocating BLM or gender nonsense what utter fvcking morons they. Don’t let your teenagers shut you down. Tell them to be quiet when the grown-ups are talking. And never apologise. Make the woke scum apologise. Take their jobs and evict them from their homes.

Helen Murray
Helen Murray
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Profanity-laced bluntness is what we frequently get from the trans militants. I refuse to sink to their level and prefer to debate the realities of sex and gender. Woman is not a mixed sex category.

Anton van der Merwe
Anton van der Merwe
1 month ago
Reply to  Katja Sipple

This is what happens when well-meaning people deny reality and push a dubious belief to its logical conclusion. Yes there are people who identify as women even though they are male. By all means allow them to do this if it helps the. But this does not change the reality that (1) biological sex is something you are born with, is unchangeable and that (2) males are a huge threat to females. That is why we segregate facilities according to sex. As they say, you can ignore reality, but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality. By all means introduce measures to protect vulnerable transwomen. In some cases, such as if they are deemed zero risk and have undergone a full transition, this may include moving them to female prisons.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 month ago

… males are a huge threat to females. 
No. There is a “huge threat” from some males when all males are allowed into female only spaces.
People who identify as women even though they are male are “people who identify as trans”. I maintain there is no conceptual category of transgenderism – and hence transwomen, unless they are “trans-identifying males” or male people who attempt “to live as an imitation of” women.
Further, undergoing surgery and hormonal interventions still does not remove the upper body strength and aggressive tendencies and anti female attitudes some men have.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 month ago

The argument against housing trans women in female prisons is not that trans women are predatory but that predatory men will find it convenient to pose as trans women. Indeed under Sturgeon’s regime they are incentivised to do so.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 month ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

The defence by Sturgeon, at least initially was so wilfully avoiding the point that one had to wonder just what is going on in the background, inside the Scottish govt.
She then had her rant on ITV, essentially calling any critics racists, homophobes and misogynists, as well as transphobes.
Both the original line and her rant were almost Putinesque.
One point that bears mentioning is that under Sturgeon’s GR bill self-certification rules, where these violent people are kept during their their prison time, they will all be welcome in a women’s changing room, or fitting room, on the day of their release.
Not safe enough for prison, but safe enough for Primark, Zara and everywhere else.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 month ago

“(T)he very idea that male people, not just ‘predators,’ pose a threat to women hasn’t even been acknowledged.”
Exactly. Limiting the change to “trans prisoners with convictions for violence against women” still leaves men imprisoned with women, and that will not work. Besides, it doesn’t recognize that such trans prisoners may often have been charged with violence but through procedural methods end up actually jailed on lesser charges, similar to the plea bargaining problem we have here in the US that makes it look on paper as though large numbers of prisoners are much less violent than they really are.

William Murphy
William Murphy
1 month ago

You might have thought that the horrible example of “Karen White” in 2018 would have taught any British politician or civil servant an unforgettable lesson. But apparently people insist on repeating disastrous decisions. It must be difficult to make any kind of decision if you allegedly can’t tell the difference between men and women.

Note how this appalling brute was diplomatically described merely as “manipulative and controlling”.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/oct/11/karen-white-how-manipulative-and-controlling-offender-attacked-again-transgender-prison

Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
1 month ago

As I understand it, the percentage of trans women who are in prison for violent and/or sexual crimes is far higher than the normal male prison population – a quick search just gave me the figure of 41% of them being convicted sex offenders. This alone should raise questions about the sheer idiocy of even considering placing these MEN in a female prison!

AnnaMaria Minogue
AnnaMaria Minogue
1 month ago
Reply to  Nikki Hayes

Actually, it’s 60%of Trans identified males who have convictions for sexual offences, according to the Ministry of Justice figures. This compares to 18% of males and 2% of females across the prison estate.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 month ago

Steady on, Victoria. I’m male and I’m not predatory. Classifying half the population as “deplorables” is probably not a winning tactic.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago

You’re right, but on average men are bigger, stronger and more violent so seeing as the government can’t know for certain which are scumbags until they commit a crime, it’s therefore sensible to have female only spaces for safety reasons

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
1 month ago

you might become predatory if you were locked up in a women’s prison

Max Price
Max Price
1 month ago

Or popular!

Max Price
Max Price
1 month ago

You miss the point Doug. Women as a class obviously need protection from men as a class.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Max Price

I don’t need men to protect me against other men, and I find the concept intensely patronising. Women who are financially independent and strong can protect themselves.

Mint Julip
Mint Julip
1 month ago

He didn’t say MEN need to protect women from other men! Sensible rules, walls and doors can do that. I’m happy for you that you don’t need any protection and are financially independent, but many people in general, and women in particular, are not so fortunate. So apart from dismissing any “help” for yourself, I’m not sure where you’re standing in this debate.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 month ago

Even in that group of women of which I am one can find themselves in a, position of vulnerability where they cannot protect themselves. Again, I speak from personal experience having been attacked in a work situation where I could do nothing to protect myself. Bad men quite often have a pack mentality and there is little a single woman can do when faced by the pack. To say differently is disingenuous.

L Walker
L Walker
1 month ago

How does that work in prison?

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 month ago
Reply to  Max Price

Actually, I don’t think he did. Being charitable, the journo’s language is vague and lazy. As I commented above on this point, maybe the journo is attempting to say “… there is a potential risk to women from some men, by allowing all men into female only spaces.”
On the other hand, she may very well hold the view that all men are aggressive and abusive and violent to women because they are male, based on fallacious reasoning – that because some men are abusive and violent towards women, all men are. This is prejudice.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 month ago

It isn’t just about safety – it is about women’s dignity. One of the women on Lia Thomas’s swim team talked before Senate about how Penn State didn’t consult with or ask their consent before Thomas was allowed in their change room. So they were forced to undress in front of a man who had his p***s in full view. That is degrading and humiliating.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago

What do we know about this woman’s private life? Something very odd is behind her political ideology apart from Marxism.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
1 month ago

Could it not be possible to exclude men from women’s prisons because the mere presence of men is unsettling and frightening for the women there? Brain scans of women prisoners have shown that more than half of them show damage caused by violence, probably mostly inflicted by men. It shouldn’t be the case that only violent men are excluded, just all men! It’s 200 years since prisons were made single sex, let’s keep them that way!

David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
1 month ago

“It seems incredible to me…” It’s one of so many phrases which are no longer necessary and be merely implied.

Last edited 1 month ago by David Kingsworthy
Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
1 month ago

Sturgeon says that trans prisoners convicted of violence against women will not after all be held in women’s prisons, but simultaneously insists that transwomen, even transwomen who are so purely in virtue of self-identification (as in the current case), certainly are women, explaining the apparent contradiction as follows: ¨From my point of view, it’s not so important what gender they are, it’s the crimes that they have committed.¨ The idea is clearly that despite and irrespective of transwomen being women, someone guilty of violent offences against women should not be held in a women’s prison.
But that would mean – if she actually meant what she is saying – that nontrans (ie genuinely female) prisoners convicted of violence against other women will also no longer be held in women’s prisons. Women are famously much less violent than men, but I suppose there must be some violent women whose violence has been committed against other women, and who are currently held in women’s prisons. Is she really going to arrange for all such women to be transferred – and where to, exactly?

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 month ago

After all, the very idea that male people, not just “predators”, pose a threat to women hasn’t even been acknowledged.
“Male people” are all men. The point is that not all men do pose a threat (do commit violence and abuse) to women because the vast majority of men don’t commit violence and abuse against women.
This is a negative generalisation about a whole group of people(men), defined by its immutable characteristic of being male. This is called prejudice.
Perhaps this journo is attempting to establish a principle of potentiality – that there is a potential risk to women from some men, by allowing all men into female only spaces. If this is the meaning of her observation then her language above is both lazy and unskilled.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

Heard reported this evening on the News two Trans assaults on female prisoners in Scottish prisons in last 8 years, (I think). And they weren’t deemed sexual assaults. I daresay assault by one prisoner of another not infrequent in some of our Prisons and one only has to read an Inspectorate report to be pretty horrified about the state of the whole sector.
One assault is one two many, and also ‘fear’ of assault is almost as bad.
Yet can’t help feeling if one were really worried about the care of prisoners, whether Male, Female or Trans we should be campaigning for much more fundamental prison reform.
Sturgeon probably having this whole saga rebound on her was inevitable and her own fault, but I also think the sudden interest in prisoner safety by Anti-Wokers somewhat disingenuous too.

Last edited 1 month ago by j watson
Phil Richardson
Phil Richardson
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

“I also think the sudden interest in prisoner safety by Anti-Wokers somewhat disingenuous too.”
Yes I agree, but the ‘safety’ angle is the only one available to them. Given the triumph of the assumptions underpinning the sexual revolution (in which feminism is deeply complicit) the idea that ‘trans’ is a serious pathology with deep spiritual and cultural roots going back decades simply isn’t an argument that can be made right now.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Have been campaigning for prison reform for over 40 years. There have been some substantial changes but there is much more to do. Judicial reform needs to happen to as far too often women still face greater punishment to greater detriment than men for similar or even lesser charges.