Welcome to Transtopia

 

Hi. You’ve reached Lily Maynard’s blog. Welcome.

If you’re a first time visitor, please start here.

In late 2015, my teenage daughter Jessie declared she was transgender and the experience tugged us into a rabbit hole of Orwellian double-speak and general insanity. I read so much during that time and it was such a vast learning curve that I felt compelled to bring all the threads together in an article.  I was especially struck by the exponential surge in the number of teenage girls who were ‘identifying’ as boys, usually young lesbians and usually after lengthy sessions on social media.

After Jessie desisted, I wanted to share what I’d read as well as what I’d learned and eventually I finished writing an article which contained over 100 links. Jessie added a short postscript of her own and I was delighted when 4thwavenow published it in December 2016 under the title ‘A Mum’s Voyage Through Transtopia – a tale of love and desistance’.

I’ve since re-published the article here on my own blog.

Before you ask me any questions; before you critcise or praise my stance on transitioning kids, or the appropriation of womanhood by men, please read that. It’s where it all began.

After Jessie re-realised she was a girl and things settled down at home,  I expected to put my time in Transtopia behind me and move on. Instead I became more fascinated- and angry- with the culture of misogyny and homophobia which underlies transgender theory.

For without stereotypes there can be no ‘brave transgender children’. Without the dolls and the pink tutus, a love of glitter, a gentle nature and a will to dance, what could possibly make girls of the little boys of ‘My Transgender Summer Camp’? What other than her love of Batman, karate and jumping around could make that short-haired, fierce little girl into a boy trapped in a female body? A feeling?  How does a boy feel? How does a girl feel?

Without sexism, there can be no transgenderism. Without the idea that there is a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ way to be a boy or a girl there would be no need to beguile and medicate these kids in an attempt to make them ‘fit in’. Our current culture of blind affirmation is not doing anyone any favours.  It is nothing short of abusive to tell a child that they are ‘wrong’, that they have been ‘born in the wrong body’ or that medication and surgery can make them into the opposite sex.  Affirming a trans-identified child- and many of these kids are LGB, autistic, have suffered trauma, abuse or loss, or have co-existing mental health issues- is to set them down a path to becoming a life-long medical patient.

This first step down this pathway begins with agreeing with a confused girl that she is a boy.  21st century kids who undergo social transition young frequently progress to puberty blockers. Children given puberty blockers almost always go one to take cross sex hormones. This combination leaves a child sterile and without sexual function.

What would have happened if I had affirmed my child when she told me she was a boy?

I would have called her by her new name and ‘he/him’ pronouns.

This would have told her that I believed she was not a girl, that I thought she had been ‘born wrong’ and needed fixing in order to be her ‘authentic’ self. It would also have affirmed her delusion, every day.

I would have paid for her to see a private therapist.

Most private therapists will tell you trans-identified children become suicidal if not transitioned. The reality is, there is no data to support the idea that they are more at risk than any other child being seen under child mental health services.

I would have accessed my child cross-sex hormones.

Don’t believe those who tell you about lengthy waiting lists. If you are broke and follow the NHS route, yes. If you’ve got a couple of hundred quid spare, you can get hormones for your child quickly and easily. Gender GP is just one of the services that has prescribed testosterone for girls as young as twelve. Before we jump to blame the parents, consider: is it any wonder parents resort to this when they’ve been told their child may kill themselves otherwise?

Girls on testosterone often develop acne and male pattern baldness. They grow beards. The beards, baldness and deepened voice are irreversible. They are also at higher risk of heart attack and other diseased and illnesses. Most doctors recommend a hysterectomy within 5 years of being on testosterone.

Top surgery would be next.

Why wouldn’t it be? By this point everyone would have been using my child’s new name and pronouns. Everyone would be agreeing with her that she was a boy. She would probably be using a binder, with all the health risks that entails. It would seem like natural progression to have an elective double mastectomy. In the USA, girls as young as 13 have undergone this procedure.

She might have chosen to go on to have phalloplasty, where the skin of the arm is stripped to form a tube of flesh that’s attached between the legs. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong with this procedure.

And there we would have it.

My dysphoric child would have been left dependent on drugs and the affirmation of others to maintain this illusion for the rest of her life. And you know what? She could still never be a man.

In what world is this progressive?

You can read mine & Jessie’s story here with a post-script by my daughter.

 

Posted in Opinion Pieces | 11 Comments

Wounded Pride- how gender identity & profit have hijacked the rainbow

This was intended to be a short piece but has morphed into 8000+ words. It starts with an innocent trip to Bluewater shopping centre, where it muses on the packaging of Pride and looks at the evolution of the Pride flag. It explores how gender ideology affects children, checks out LGBTQIA+ young adult fiction in Waterstones, adds a handful of YA  book recommendations from Jessie, pops into Primark & Hollister- where we discover where some of their Pride money goes- and ends up in M&S toilets.

There are sub-headings. Wine, or coffee and Oreos, recommended.

It was not intended to be a TERFy day out. I visited Bluewater with my mum and my friend Sophie, who, while they both know what a woman is, are not foot soldiers in the TERF wars. It was to be a nice normal afternoon, no stickers, no woowoo, no protests,  just some lunch and a bit of shopping.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, Bluewater is a vast shopping centre down in the heart of Kent, a phoenix of capitalist endeavour rising from the dust of the surrounding chalk pit and designed very much along the lines of the Mall of America. Both buildings trap shoppers in endless loops of shops- escape one loop only to become  ensconsed in another. Only the exits are tucked away inconspicuously. Bluewater is only the 5th biggest shopping centre in England, but has over 300 shops, 50 places to eat and drink and endless free car parking spaces.  Depending on your perspective it is either the shopping experience of a lifetime or the seventh ring of hell. Bluewater likes to think it’s a bit upmarket.  Fan of the generic globalised shopping experience? Bluewater throws in faux marble flooring with gold trim, quirky statues, wide, dramatic staircases, ponds, mini-golf and an electricity bill that would bankrupt a small country.

“Oh there’s a Primark,” said Sophie. “I thought it’d be too posh for that.”

Bluewater has a Pride page on its website, of course it does. It reads as if it was written by somebody with marshmallows for brains and goes something like this:

“LGBTQ+ community…  be proud… simply being who you are… straight ally…  being who you truly are… celebrate and support… iconic symbol… LGBTQ+ community… rainbow flag… pride style… wearing the rainbow… show your support… show your pride… be an ally or simply be proud… rainbow inspired… in honour of Pride month… Stonewall Riots… clothes that commemorate the occasion… feature a rainbow… blah blah blah”

“Let’s go shopping! Phone, keys, Pride flag…”

Packaging Pride

In the last decade the corporate giant that is now Pride has morphed from a grass-roots protest demanding gay equality into a sugar-and-spunk-sticky caricature of itself, double-dipped in glitter and held together with bubblegum and platitudes.

We keep being told ‘Pride is a Protest’ but methinks the theybie doth protest too much. In 2020s England, it can be hard to establish exactly what it is that Pride is protesting about. While LGB people now have equal rights in law in England, and much more representation in film and advertising, there’s still a lot of casual homophobia. Many parents find it hard to accept gay kids, which is evident in the fashion for transitioning sensitive little boys and rough-and-tumble little girls. Some people never dare tell their parents they are LGB, which is incredibly sad. Some people find it hard to tell themselves.

Homosexual activity is still illegal ‘to some extent’ in 71 countries and punishable by death in seven. This may be hard to grasp for 21st century kids in London, which is perhaps why we don’t see many placards concerned with such stuff on Pride marches.

But Pride doesn’t seem to be about fancying people of your own sex anymore. Some might suggest that a draggle of prancing drag queens in skirts showing their ‘panties’, sporting glitter, wigs and fake boobs is not going to help educate a reticent or homophobic parent into accepting their gay kid as being… well… normal. Realistically, it’s far more likely to have the opposite effect. And there we have it- being accepted as ‘just like everybody else’  is no longer an objective of Pride.

Some might suggest that trying to change sex with artificial hormones and surgery is perhaps not the most viable route to finding your authentic self, but those people would be evil bigots who hate you and want you to die. The protest part of Pride  now focus on the validation of gender identity and how to aquire it.

This new objective seems to be going pretty well.

In the last couple of years, almost all UK government departments have flown the ‘progress’ Pride flag, or the trans flag, either outside buildings or on their social media accounts. Banks, multinationals, schools, universities, the army, navy and police force fly the flags. It’s on our zebra crossings and it appears on commemorative legal tender. Gender identity ideologues seem to have the establishment pretty well under control. It was even revealed in the Telegraph this week that OFSTED have been marking schools down for not teaching the kids enough gender identity theory.  At least four schools were marked down with the following comments:

“pupils do not learn about gender identity or gender diversity”… ‘lack of teaching gender identity… “lack of gender reassignment teaching”. One school in the North of England was told it needed to  “ensure that pupils are supported to develop an awareness of, and respect for… gender identities”.

It seems as if it would be hard for the English establishment to prostrate itself any more profusely at the feet of the LGBTQIAA2+ ‘community’.

Could Pride be protesting a lack of T shirts? Definitely not…

Google ‘Pride is a protest’ T shirt’ and you get thirteen million hits back in just a few seconds. The more realistic slogan ‘Pride is a corporate cash cow’ doesn’t seem to have caught on.

Pride these days: Progress flag? Tick. Rainbow umbrella? Tick. Rainbow facepaint? Tick? Fishnets? Tick.

Leather-clad puppy on a string? Optional.

 

Any problems?

Don’t worry, ask a police officer.

They’ll be pleased to help.

 Pride month: that time of year when the police dress up like idiots in a desperate attempt to placate a group of people who claim to hate them.

Who can blame the TRAs for that? They’re trying to look all hard and cool in their ‘black pampers’ outfits and along come the cops waving rainbows in their faces. It’s probably pretty much how the Arctic Monkeys felt when Gordon Brown said they were his favourite band.

Waterstones

Mr Waterstone started his first bookshop in London in 1982:  just over a decade later he sold out to WH Smith and in 1998 HMV took over. According to Waterstones’ website, 66% of Brits regularly shop there.

Waterstones stores feel a little bit like upmarket libraries but with the obvious disadvantage of not being full of free reads. In recent years the company has come under fire for not promoting enough works by female authors, and deciding that certain feminist books were too controversial to display.

Their teen section is always stuffed with books about identity and anxiety, but it’s Pride month so they are pushing the trans agenda supporting gay kids even more than usual.

I wasn’t too surprised to see Waterstones had adopted this flag.

Flag? What is that monstrosity, I hear you ask?

Or maybe you know it already.

Either way, we’re going to have to take a little diversion here…

The road to the ‘Progress’ Flag

The first Pride flag (top left) was designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978. He described it as symbolising ‘the rainbow of humanity‘. The eight stripes symbolised sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic and art, serenity & spirit.

‘Sex’ was removed after problems finding enough of the the right colour pink fabric. I’m not quite sure why the turquoise (symbolising ‘magic & art’) was removed but it was, leaving a more traditional rainbow, albeit with just six colours. The rainbow flag stuck around like that for quite a while.

The brown and black stripes for  ‘LGBT people of colour‘ were added to the Philadelphia Pride flag in 2017 by the Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs in partnership with an advertising agency, after Gilbert died. This left a lot of stripes on the flag, especially once the colours of the trans flag, pink for girls, blue for boys and white for non binary people, had joined the party (see pics 3 & 4 in the flags above).

The Trans Flag

To be gay is to understand that sex is set at birth”Brad Polumbo

Obviously problems and conflicts will arise when you bring those who claim sex can be changed, or doesn’t matter, into a movement developed by and for those who are same-sex attracted. The blatent sexism behind the ‘pink for girls, blue for boys’ of the trans flag changes the meaning of the original Pride flag.

The trans flag was designed by dad of two and navy vet Monica Helms, aka Robert Hogg. Helms describes himself in his memoir as a ‘bigender’ person. This, he tells the reader, “allows my brain to float between multiple worlds… Sometimes I am a man and a woman at the same time, or I can change in a nanosecond, then change back just as fast.”

Of his penchant for cross dressing, he wrote, “It was the deepest, darkest secret in my entire life. I would tell someone that I’d murdered someone before I’d tell someone I cross-dressed.”

Helms, clearly a well-balanced sort of chap, refers to his childhood alter-ego as ‘the girl in the shadows’ and explains the design of the flag thus:

“The light blue is the traditional color for baby boys, and the pink is the traditional color for baby girls.”

This raises a flag of an entirely different colour for many people.

Read more about Helms in Genevieve Gluck’s piece on Redduxx.

Trans ideology and children

I and many others have written about the negative effects of gender identity theory on children, but we do need to briefly revisit it here. If you want to do a deeper dive you can start with the search bar on this blog, or check out Transgender Trend (UK) and 4thWaveNow (USA).

Trans ideology is a danger to children for several reasons. The cognitive dissonance is complex and predictably damaging. Many people claim there is little or no harm in social transition, but it offers a child an impossible dream that can only crash and burn with puberty – unless the child follows a medical pathway.

“Social transition isn’t reversible, because what we tell our children for years can’t be reversed.” writes an experienced clinical psychologist for Transgender Trend.

“When we disconnect them from their biological sex, we set up patterns of denial and secrets. We set them up to hate their bodies at puberty, to beg for blockers and binders, because for years we told them they could change sex, and they believed us. They are desperate to go back to the years when no one knew any different, but that time will never come again. Time is not reversible.”

The concept of ‘trans kids’ didn’t even exist twenty years ago but is now at the very heart of our ostensibly liberal and diverse society.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that ‘trans’ is not a diagnosis, ‘gender dysphoria’ is a diagnosis. ‘Pink for girls and blue for boys’ is a symbol of all the stereotypes we had been working hard to break down before trans ideology came along and glued the wall back together again. And let’s remember that there are people out there who will sexualise children (above) and happily make them part of their fetish or agenda, whether it’s through hand crafting ‘packers’ so little girls can be ‘stealth’, or dressing little boys up like LOL dolls.

For older children, trans ideology offers a new start. The embarassment of childhood, fear of same-sex attraction, the complexities of autism,  and/or a history of sexual abuse can all lead a young person to want to believe life would be better if they could change sex. And being trans offers you an instant tribe!

The girl who thinks she makes a rubbish girl may be drawn to elective mastectomy, coolly remarketed as ‘top surgery’. Groups of girls may plan their transition together or start fundraisers to travel to see the sugeon of the moment. Boys may take hormones to grow breasts. They can buy them online. Parents who express dissent or concern are ‘transphobic’ and their kids are encouraged to ditch them. Every family thinks it won’t happen to them.

One mum who found pills in her 16 year old son’s desk, after she noticed he was sprouting ‘breast buds’, said, “I don’t know how he paid for them but online hormones are so cheap. Like other kids doing this, he could have used his birthday money from Granny or pocket money.”

Once eighteen, either sex may opt for ‘bottom surgery’ which is frequently disastrous. Patients are left with phantom feeling, or no feeling: both sexes are left with urinary tract issues, incontinence, leaking and infections. Of course the resulting ‘genitals’ cannot function as naturally occurring genitals do. These surgeries, often still in experimental stages are comfortingly called ‘gender affirmation surgeries’ but many of the the stories coming from those who have undergone them are horrific.

We are now hearing a growing number of detransitoners tell their stories. One of the more recent to open up, Tulip, tells his story here.  You can read or download the Transgender Trend ‘Detransition’ booklet, written by detransitioners, here.

Kids do need sex and relationship education. Kids should be taught about love, respect, consent, contraception & that it’s fine to love whoever you’re attracted to, whatever your sex. The rest of it they can work out for themselves, or from their peers, surely? Why on earth would kids need adults telling them about different sexual acts or positions?

Less and less energy is being put into telling kids its fine to grow up gay or bisexual, and more and more energy is being put into teaching kids how to decide what labels suit them best. Are you aporagender (a nonbinary gender identity describing the experience of having a specific gender that’s different from man, woman, or any combination of the two) or are you boring old cis? These concepts are based around the sexist stereotypes that denote boyish and girlish behaviours and inclinations.

Why so quick to apply labels in this quest to find your ‘authentic self’? A 12 year old is not an ‘aromanic asexual’, they are 12 FFS, plenty of people don’t develop any sort of sexual feelings until their late teens, and that’s just fine.

Being wild and quirky is ‘queer’! Masquerading as the opposite sex is authentic! Like ballet and football? Maybe you’re non binary! Everything we offer children concerning sex and relationships guidance is now being remoulded through the lens of gender identity.

Young people are learning that their every thought is ‘valid’ and that they need to construct an identity, a lens through which they view  the world. This identity doesn’t have to be based in reality, because while strong and powerful and authentic is also fragile as butterfly wings and ethereal as fairy spit. If it does not receive endless affirmation, its gossamer may fade or split or dissolve entirely. This new identity is a shallow reflection, worthless without the constant validation of others.

Anywhere that flies a flag sporting the trans colours is supporting the perpetuation of this myth.

Re-inventing the flag

So where were we? Ah yes. The latest flag. The rainbow flag had become rather cluttered stripe-wise, with no less than eleven bars running horizontally across it.

So, in an act of astonishing creative genius, arty enby Sam Quasar (just call me zie/zir) moved the five new colours sideways, effectively obscuring much of the original rainbow. I’m not quite sure why everybody was so impressed by this, but they were. The flag was accepted with enthusiasm and Quasar controversially copyrighted it.

Not everybody loved the new flag. Many LGB people felt the added chevrons appeared to be pushing same-sex attracted people out of their own movement-  but they were duly silenced with accusations of racism and transphobia.

The arrow points to the right to show forward movement,” said Quasar, blind or indifferent to the fact that further movement right would obscure even more of the rainbow.

In Everything Wrong with the “Progress Pride Flag published in The Lesbian Post, the writer points out that ALL homosexual or bisexual people were already included under the rainbow flag.

“The only people left over,” she concludes, “the only people who could possibly be added to a symbol that represents every single same-sex attracted person in the world … are heterosexuals.”

The Intersex Flag

In 2013 Morgan Carpenter of Intersex Human Rights Australia designed the intersex flag, a yellow background with the purple circle. Purple and yellow were chosen as a contrast to blue and pink, and the circle symbolises wholeness. You can see a video about the flag here. The issues facing intersex people are diverse and complex and often misunderstood and misrepresented.

The existence of intersex people does not prove that binary sex doesn’t really exist any more than a child being born with one leg disproves that human beings are a bipedal species. If the general public now believes that some people are born with two complete sets of genitals, or none at all, and that these people are as common as readheads – you can thanks the LGBTQI2+ lobby for that. Intersex conditions have nothing to do with transgenderism. This misinformation surrounding the subject is complex. Learn more from intersex advocate Claire Graham here and the Intersex Society of North America here.

Last year Quasar’s flag was all the rage but the new, intersex inclusive flag (left), as seen in Waterstones teen book display, seems to have caught on this year. Designed (if that really is the word we have to use) by intersex activist Valentino Vecchietti (she/they) the flag was first popularised in 2021.

 

On the latest flag there is still a yellow background with a purple circle in the middle to represent intersex people. In keeping with Vecchietti’s vision, not only has a fifth, white, chevron been created by ousting the enbies to the right and hence further into the rainbow, but the intersex flag has been re-imagined as a yellow triangle.

The yellow triangle, of course, was used by the Nazis as the basis for prisoner identification badges during the Holocaust and as such it already has a deep significance for Jewish people.

I wonder how this could have been overlooked by the designers of the ‘new’ progress flag or, in the light of ostensible respect for inclusion and identity, how they considered this act of appropriation acceptable.

Flag wars

What is going on here? I imagine Quasar may be feeling slightly miffed at having his flag usurped so quickly, especially after all that effort copyrighting it. Is there a secret ‘Pride flag war’ going on? And how many versions are there?

 

One version of the flag contains a red umbrella to symbolise ‘sex worker’ inclusion, and variated skin-tone stripes, but that doesn’t seem to have caught on. What next?

To be inclusive of all vulnerable minorities, surely the flag should also contain- at very least– a stripe for physically disabled people, a stripe for mental health and a stripe for elderly people?  Oh, and one for left handed people. Yup, we die on average nine years earlier than you northpaws. That has to warrant a stripe!

The overweight could perhaps have a double stripe.

Stop it, I’m overweight myself, I’m allowed to say that.

We have three stripes for trans people, those with gender dysphoria, so why not one for those with eating disorders? Those who self harm? Agoraphobics? If not, why not?

Bipolar people are much misunderstood and have a far higher suicide risk than trans-identified people. Why are they left off the flag?

BIGOTS.

One Twitter user made a parody flag that included the colours of the Ukrainian flag. So many people thought it was real that Reuters ran a fact check on it.

 

If you haven’t had a belly full of Pride flags yet, here Dr. Stacee Reicherzer, a man who identifies as a woman, will take you through a guided meditation on the colours. Enjoy.

Back to Waterstones

Back to Waterstones where kids seeking out the LGB section are greeted with “This is where our LGBTQ+ Fiction for teen (sic) begins”.

And there’s the flag. And there are the books.

 

I flip through the books on the two ‘pride’ shelves and try to get an idea of the stories involved.  I find three books that are lesbian romances. Afterlove, by Tanya Byrne, is about a lesbian love affair where one protagonist is dead and the other alive. I read a few pages and it takes my interest. Later I mention it to Jessie who remembers reading it years ago. She says it’s “pretty good”. I ask her to recommend some young adult LB fiction that’s ‘really good’ & she says ok.

There are certainly more trans and ‘queer’ books in Waterstones than lesbian books. The protagonist of one is a girl who ‘passes’ at school as a boy, until her right to play football is threatened by an evil sports teacher. There are books about how great and empowering it is for boys to dress up as and parody women. Books about special ‘non binary’ children and their nonbinary besites, who scoff at ‘cis’ people. Many of these books seems to have been written purely to tick boxes.

In ‘Stay Gold’, cheerleader Georgia discovers her new boyfriend ‘Pony’ is a girl. Georgia is briefly disturbed by the revelation and feels deceived. Scores of virtuous handmaidens young girls in online fandoms rush to call the character ‘transphobic’ because of this. There are various subplots, one concerning Pony’s bigoted dad who won’t pay for her to have her breasts removed (spoiler, I’m told dad renounces his bigotry at the end).

Most of the books seem to be there to affirm specific ideas and to Educate The Reader. Even the target audience has cottoned on to this.

One young reviewer of ‘Stay Gold’ criticised sections of the book that “focus very heavily on explaining a myriad of concepts related to being trans, such as what binders are and why transmasculine people wear them, gender-corrective surgeries, and even how pronouns and names are not “preferred” but “correct… it completely took over Pony’s chance to show any personality beyond being trans and wanting to be perceived as his gender.” 

Another reviewer wrote“At times, this book felt stilted because portions would be ‘info dumps’ about living as a trans person, which felt more like they came from the author than naturally from the character. Further, depictions of violent sexual and physical assault, as well as inclusions of suicidal thoughts by the main character were included as a vehicle to educate.”

I didn’t read it all. I skimmed a couple of chapters and caught up on the plot when I got home. Like so many other of the books on the shelves, it’s an absolute clusterfuck of utterly confusing and beguiling nonsense. I picked it up pretty much at random, I don’t doubt there are others containing even more woowoo.

I aslso had a quick peep at ‘Boy Queen’ (recommended for age 12+) penned by drag queen George Lester aka That Girl. I was drawn to this one by its startling ‘blow up doll about to give a blow job’ cover.

Despite the inference of the title, and the target audience, the ‘boy’ protagonist of the novel celebrates his eighteenth birthday in Chapter Two.

Lester, aka ‘That Girl’

Robin has a cool but in-the-closet boyfriend whose friends smoke weed. His friend Priya has perfect make up, an unsmudgeable  ‘pop of highlighter’ and  ‘perfectly drawn eyebrow(s)’. (We also learn that she’s overweight, so by the rules of woke it’s ok to objectifty her in that misogynistic ‘hey fatty you can be sexy too’ sort of way.) Next we meet Natalie who calls Robin ‘girl’ and ‘she’ and tells him she will be “ignoring advances from all genders” until she’s graduated. Their friend group also has Greg, in Robin’s words, a ‘token straight white boy. Every group needs one and he’s ours.’

According to Waterstones, it’s a tale ‘about embracing your true self’. Of course it is.  The more cynical among us might think it was more of a tale of ticking the boxes.

The synopsis tells us that poor Robin is blighted with  ‘a mother who won’t stop talking’ no less, so no wonder he’s drawn to an art form that involves mocking women where he can be his authentic self. When Robin’s mother isn’t talking she’s cooking homemade lasagne, or smiling with sparkling eyes as she cracks jokes about flirting with his teachers to get him higher grades. Robin’s mother is Perfect Parent and Pick Me Girl all rolled into one.

Boy Queen reads a bit like a well-structured GCSE English language creative writing essay, with the prescribed distribution of adjectives, adverbs and reported speech. It’s possible this is intentional, as discussion notes for schools are available here. I’d probably have given it an A for technique, possibly a high B. I read chapters 1-3. If GCSE English creative writing essays are your thing, you can read the first chapter here.

The two LGBTQ+ shelves also contained several books written by Juno/James Dawson, young adult fiction writer, once a role model for young gay men.

When James Dawson was a teenager the very last thing he would ever have believed is that he would one day be proud and happy to be gay. reported the Guardian in September 2014.

Dawson told the newspaper that as a fifteen year old he was was called a ‘poofter’ at school by bullies and “linked being gay to being wrong, naughty, faulty and broken. To him, gay people were dirty, they weren’t as good as straight people. He thought he was abnormal…”

In September 2014, James published the popular book ‘This Book is Gay’ declaring it to be ‘a non-fiction book in which I claim I could not be prouder to be a gay man’.

Fast forward one year: Dawson publicly declared he was a woman in October 2015,  at the age of 34, and began taking hormones in 2016.

Nobody seems to have considered the implications of exposing young gay men to his work. Young men who, if they are effeminate, will have spent a lifetime being told they are second-rate men, or even ‘you’re a girl’, by the same bullies young James faced.  Young men who will have seen a ‘proud gay man’ crumble and declare himself a facimilie of a woman instead.

When ‘This Book is Gay’ was first published, Dawson said “I hope that some of those young people who are in hiding, can see and hear me – a vaguely successful and very happy gay man being successful and happy.”

But that’s not what they’ve seen at all, is it? Since deciding he is a woman, Dawson is spouting the same homophobia that young gay men have always been subjected to.

“I think there are a lot of gay men out there who are gay men as a consolation prize becuase they couldn’t be women.”

Just what gay lads need to see during Pride. Nice one, Waterstones.

Here are Jessie’s promised recommendations for LB teens.

Jessie writes:

“Being a teenager, even in the early 2010s, there was a pretty minimal amount of lesbian books for me to read. I waded my way through John Green’s mediocre gay collaboration with Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle (Let It Snow, 2008) and David Levithan’s piles of boy-meets-boy teenfic for the background sapphic characters, but lesbian protagonists were few and far between. Now there’s a more varied selection, although I find myself having to look for these books specifically, as many of them aren’t put in the ‘LGBT’ sections of bookstores, but just placed in their genre section instead. 

Here are some of my current and past favourite young adult sapphic novels.”

I read Huntress by Malinda Lo under the covers until 1am when I was about 13. The story follows Kaede and Taisin, sent on a mission to ‘fix nature’, which has been thrown out of balance. They make their way through a Chinese-influenced magical world, falling in love along the way. This is a prequel to her (also sapphic) rewrite of Cinderella, Ash

Suggested for 13+.

The Crier’s War duology by Nina Varela is one of my all time favourite works, combining sci-fi and fantasy to create a lush world in which humans have been overpowered by ‘automae’: man-made sentient versions of people. It follows Lady Crier, an automa noblewoman, and a young servant girl, Ayla, whose biggest desire is to avenge her family by killing Crier in front of her father, Lord Hesod, who murdered her entire village when she was a child. 

Suggested for 13+.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone is a lyrical love story spanning centuries. A sci-fi novel following two agents on rival sides of a war, writing each other letters through time, and how their feelings towards one another develop. 

Suggested for 14+.

Afterlove by Tanya Byrne is about a girl called Ash, who dies but comes back as part of a group of teen girl grim reapers who roam the streets of Brighton helping other dead young girls cross over to the afterlife. Ash is determined to find a way to reconnect with her still-living girlfriend, Poppy, even though reapers are forbidden from communicating with people they knew before they died. 

Suggested for 13+.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. A young woman named Monica is given the chance to write the biography of 1950s Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo, who (surprise surprise) had seven husbands. But which one of them was her true love? Or was it someone else completely?

This book is not marketed as young adult fiction, but save for one fairly mild sex scene I don’t think there’s anything that would make it inappropriate, but because of this I would recommend it for ages 16+.

Primark

Ok. So, we’re at Bluewater shopping centre, remember? Next stop was Primark.

It was late last year when I spotted a trans flag in the bargain bucket of a London Primark store. Too woke even for its own customers.

On this trip to Bluewater I noticed Primark now stock ‘post-surgery’ bras, either with or without cups for boobs (the cupless version is shown here).

Of course, this item is for all women post-surgery and if it increases the physical comfort of women post-mastectomy it is a good thing.

Earlier this year I spotted super-tight-fitting tops in Primark, clearly designed to function as a basic binder. H&M were selling a similar item before lockdown. Neither were marketed as ‘binders’; so far the high street giants have resisted conspicuous compliance with requests from angry teenage girls, via a handful of poorly circulated online petitions, to make chest binders more freely available.

The reason most repeatedly given in the text of these petitions is the unsubstantiated claim that trans-identified girls may kill themselves without access to such items.

Soon, one of these petitions will catch on and a retailer – I predict Primark, H&M or possibly M&S- will produce a range of cheap ‘n’ cheerful binders to get woke points and profit from the discomfort of dysphoric young women support young people in search of their authentic selves.

But having noticed the binder-style tops on an earlier visit, it got me thinking about Primark’s links to the whole LGBTQIA2+ shabangle, so when I got home I did some sleuthing.

Primark has not always had such stunning woke credentials.

In 2018 there was disappointment and anger expressed that profits from Primark’s ‘Pride’ range were being given to Stonewall rather than to the organisers of Pride events. Further egg appeared on Primark’s face when it was discovered that that year’s Pride merch was made in Turkey, Myanmar and China, countries known for having an abysmal record on gay rights.

Primark had to pull its rainbow-striped socks up, quickly. And so it did.

In 2019  it brought in ‘gender neutral’ changing rooms to some of its new stores, causing The Sun newspaper to call it a ‘gender offender‘ (groan) and in 2020 I was told by a young woman in a large London Primark store that despite the ‘Women’s’ and ‘Men’s’ signs over the changing rooms, they were “all unisex now”.

“Nothing says Pride like rainbow print… what better way to celebrate your most authentic self than in our newest collection of clothing and accessories?”

Primark advertising 2022.

This year Primark’s emphasis is on pronouns and crisp white T shirts with rainbow slogans.

This year’s Primark Pride range features children in make up.

Since 2019, Primark has given nearly half a million quid to ILGA World, another organisation with an obsession with pushing queer theory to children.

ILGA runs the ‘Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Programme’ a ‘dedicated programme to advance the rights of trans people by strengthening work at the global and regional levels’. The first line of their constitution document states they recognise the fundamental pride that lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, trans people, and intersex people (LGBTI) have in their gender identity and expression, (my emphasis) sexual orientation, and sex characteristics”.

ILGA is a co-signator of the ‘Affirmation of Feminist Principles‘ (guess what, it has  fuck all to do with feminism)  which asserts that “all children should have access to gender transformative comprehensive sexuality education in schools that embraces the diversity of human identity.”

I’m not entirely sure what that means but I’m feeling the flutter of red flags.

If you were thinking that perhaps Primark was unaware of this connection, then I draw your attention to the image on the left, which is from Primark’s website and  features a pre-pubescent child alongside a load of blurb about ‘queer youth’.

ILGA also holds that ‘sex work is work’ and that medical transition should be available free for anyone who wants it.

“Having a stronger global youth movement for the human rights of LGBTIQ people is
now more important than ever!” gushes  ILGA.

 

 

Hollister

We enter a second circle of shops and are faced with a dramatic ‘Pride’ display in the window of Hollister, that well known friend of the underdog. Yes, this is the same Hollister that for many years employed its sales staff as ‘models’, allowing the company to hire based on looks and body type. So inclusive. Their Regents Street branch is so dimly lit that my friend who shops there turns on the torch on his phone so he can see the colours of the clothing properly. Dark the inside of its stores may be, but it seems Hollister has seen the metaphorical light, and is now especially concerned with Trans Rights and Black Trans Lives.

“Live Loud! Live Proud!” declares a huge neon display on a vast flickering TV screen, with startling originality. Presumably the customer is supposed to achieve this worthy objective while wearing one of the T shirts available to purchase within the store. I stop and stare at the screen.  My mum and Sophie wander off without me but I am mesmerised.

It’s as if Pride just doesn’t actually have anything to do with fancying people of your own sex any more.

Slogans appear and disappear, badge & stickers style. ‘Protect Black Trans Lives’ and ‘Bi- we are here’ are the largest and appear most prominently. Others include ‘Trans Rights are Human Rights’ ‘BLM’, ‘Plant Gays- protect Mother Earth’, an ‘intersex’ symbol, a ‘trans’ symbol and a variety of pronouns – ‘U=U drop the stigma’, Zie/Zir, They/Them. Pride is a Movement. Briefly a flower appears with ‘lesbian lover’ written around the petals. On careful perusal, half a sticker appears to read ‘Break the Binary’. A green sticker reading ‘here first’ and sporting what might be feathers is a possible nod to ‘2 spirit’ people…

I didn’t enter Hollister, but I did have a look at their website when I got home. Items in their 2022 Pride range available  include a ‘gender inclusive’ bikini, a snip at a mere £44.

A GENDER INCLUSIVE BIKINI. Who needs an emotional support animal when they can get validation from their beachwear? I’m in. Or possibly not.

In 2021 Hollister donated $250,000 to GLSEN (pronounced ‘glisten’) an American organisation who work to help create safe & affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ students in schools’.  Via genderwoowoo, of course.  This year they’re doing the same. Hollister has raised a cool £3,000,000 for GLSEN so far.

“Being able to be who you are, love who you want and express yourself to the fullest- without judgement- is something ALL queer people deserve to have,”

GLSEN student.

Gender expression is shown through clothing. Being nonbinary gives me the freedom to know that there is no way I’m ‘supposed’ to dress.”

GLSEN student

Have the people who pen such stuff ever undergone any actual adversity, I wonder? The woowoo all sounds very worthy but what does it mean in the big, wide world where we don’t automatically deserve the right to ‘express ourselves to the fullest without judgment’?

We cannot stop people judging us. We cannot change how people perceive us. It is not a human right to be seen as we wish to be seen. When we tell people that it is reasonable to expect these things, we are setting them up for a lifetime of resentment and disappointment. Random strangers are not there to validate your feelings, because everything isn’t about you. Is that really such a harsh thing to say?

Pop on that gender inclusive bikini and get in the sea.

Marks & Spencers

Not just any old genderwoowoo…

Marks & Spencers likes to think that it excels in most areas, and the realm of genderwoowoo is no exception. In a bid to ditch its image of appealing to mostly middle class, middle-aged women, M&S has popped on its cashmere cardigan and leapt onto the gender identity bandwagon, possibly without reflecting on the fact that that demographic buys a fair bit of their stuff.

In November 2019 Jean Hatchet tweeted about a friend who took her fifteen year old daughter for her first bra fitting and was confronted with a man ‘getting his kicks’ trying on women’s underwear in the changing rooms.

I can’t say anything or I’ll be a hater.” Hatchet’s friend told her. 

In what the tabloid press referred to as a ‘gender row’, M&S responded to Hatchet, All M&S fitting rooms have lockable cubicles designed to protect each customer’s privacy“. This was met with much disagreement from customers who reported their local stores had curtains or doors that didn’t go floor to ceiling.

Hatchet’s friend was right about one thing. For speaking out Hatchet was called a hater, a liar and accused of making the whole thing up. Which is weird because there are numerous recorded cases of men trying on underwear in M&S. I imagine some of them must have encountered teenage girls in passing. Or not passing, as is more likely to be the case.

“I had this in an M&S a couple months back.” commented one Twitter user. “Obvious male looking at bras and “joshing” loudly with the staff before going to try them in the female fitting rooms. I wanted to try some things but didn’t feel comfortable with him there, so hung around till he’d gone. Didn’t say anything…”

“In a Dublin M&S there is an obvious bloke who goes in for bra fittings (full beard & high heels) and the staff have to reschedule all the womens fittings for that day – and the staff are forced to do the bra fitting for him” observes another.

In 2019, M&S in Wales actually sent staff out, including a bra fitter, to solicit clients from a local trans support group under the guise of “making M&S more inclusive.”

“We discreetly went around the group explaining that we were there to help, that M&S is a friendly place which welcomes customers whoever they are, and that they shouldn’t be frightened to come into our stores,” Kelly said in an article on the M&S website, adding that she had to ‘reserve quite a lot of our products’.

On a different visit, “… some of the group modelled for me. They loved it and I was made to feel so welcome. After the meeting, many came for a bra fitting and one of the group specially brought their partner along for a new bra.”

On Reddit a 57 year old man who describes himself as ‘non-passing’ tells others, “I can vouch for M&S as being trans friendly as I went for a fitting earlier this year and was treated with the utmost respect and given some good advice.” Another replies that he was told he could have his fitting take place in either the male or the female changing area, depending on if he was male or female ‘presenting’ at the time.

Whatever angle I look at this from, I can’t help but see M&S’s female customers being used as unknowing supporting actors in men’s fantasy fetishes. I just really don’t think this is ok.

I wonder if female staff taking a job at M&S are warned in advance that the job may entail taking part in male sexual fantasies?

I would have hazzarded a guess at ‘no’ prior to hearing of Jane’s experience (as told to me by her friend Emma).

Jane worked for another large department store, Debenhams, where female staff were given special training in how to deal with men who used their free ‘personal shopper’ service. Debenhams Personal Shoppers “tell you about the latest trends and what clothes would suit you best… then you can sit back and relax whilst they bring you a selection of clothes.”

modification by @moleatthedoor

Some men would come in regularly to experience the validation of having ‘women’s’ items selected for them by compliant sales staff, who would then observe them in the selected garments and offer advice about style and fit.

Jane also said that on more than one occassion, discarded spunk-stained underwear was found abandoned by men who had taken it into the changing room.

“Not, like, all the time.” she added, hastily. “Just sometimes.”

Baroness Nicholson wrote to M&S in 2020, warning of the risks of voyeurs and predators, observing that M&S may have ‘misunderstood’ the Equality Act and suggesting ‘I believe you may wish to follow the Government’s line and resume single-sex spaces for the changing rooms in your stores.’

M&S remained unmoved, replying, “We recognise customers will self-identify and respect their right to choose the fitting rooms they feel comfortable in.”

In response to another enquiry an M&S social media rep replied:

‘As an inclusive retailer, in line with most other retailers, we allow customers the choice of fitting room in respect of how they identify themselves. Thanks, Matt’

Later in 2020 M&S were back in the news when a curvacious young woman was traumatised after a store failed to psychically glean her non-binary identity. After being asked not to use the men’s changing room, zie told an assistant, “I’m not female”. The assistant tactfully and immediately apologised but the damage was done. The woman, unable to discuss the incident through her tears, felt ‘sick’ and ‘accosted’ and went home and cried. M&S later issued a gushing apology, despite which the victim says she feels she will be unable to shop there again.

Back in October 2019, @GoodyActually asked M&S an important question, and one which, to the best of my knowledge, they have never addressed. “Your present policy only suits people that actively want mixed sex changing areas. What proportion of your customer base is that?” 

Her question brings me to my experience in the loos.

Bluewater has a massive M&S (25 departments) which sports its own toilets. Sophie and my mum were looking at trousers so I popped over to the loos, where I was met with a sign that read:

“We are currently undergoing refurbishment of our customer toilets. As a temporary measure we have relocated the women’s toilets to the men’s toilets. We apologise for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.

M&S

established 1884″

The message wasn’t entirely clear, sounding a bit as if they had literally relocated the women’s loos. Where had the men gone? Come ot think of it, I’d noticed a small group of men waiting outside the disabled toilet. But taking into account that M&S are clear that their facilities are divided by gender identity rather than by sex, I couldn’t help being sightly amused by the idea that a guy who wanted to use the women’s loo rather than the men’s because he wanted validation would actually end up having to use the men’s loo after all. Only by identifying as a woman could he come in and use the urinals! Which would presumably have become validating rather than triggering, because of the sign on the door? Or would it? As M&S are so incredibly sensitive towards the feelings of such fragile folx, perhaps the toilet door should have had a trigger warning on it? Have they learned nothing?

Musing on such things, I pushed through the door into the now-women’s loo. A woman who had gone in a few seconds before me looked around and said, “Oh, there are urinals! Oh dear, are we in the men’s?”  I said I thought we were, but that it was temporariliy the Ladies.

The door opened again, a third woman entered, looked at the urinals, made a jokey gagging face and headed straight into a cubicle.

Another woman entered, looking from side to side nervously. “Am I in the right place? Is this the Ladies’ or the Gents’?”

“It’s the Ladies. Or at least I think it is, for now.””

She still seemed quite concerned. “Are you sure, are you sure? There won’t be any men in here?”

Only one of the cubicles was occupied and we’d just seen a woman enter it. The other woman assured her. “Definitely no men!”  We laughed.

“Fair enough,” I said. “We don’t want to be sharing toilets with random men, do we?”

We agreed that we did not. She seemed reassured and ducked into a cubicle.

I did my wee, washed my hands and left. As I turned the corner I saw there were still three blokes waiting outside the disabled loo.

“Good to see you guys have still got somewhere to wee!” I joked as I walked past.

“Huh. None of that gender neutral non-binary bollocks here!” one said ruefully, with a joke-dramatic eye-roll at the queue.

“Well if the queue gets too long you guys can just say you’re women and go and use the Men’s again,” I replied, delighted at this unexpected and unsolicited flash of solidarity and yes, they laughed, because the whole exchange was fairly amusing.

Before I go on I should say that, yes, it’s crap that the disabled toilet was being used as the Men’s. I’m unsure what else M&S could have done under the circumstances, but it’s not ideal and this is probably a good place to give a shout out to the Changing Places campaign which aims to provide fully accessible toilets for people with disabilities. It may even have been that the men’s loos were intended to be mixed sex but, seeing the notice, the men had taken it on themselves to use the disabled loo instead. I don’t know if there was a second disabled toilet in M&S but Bluewater does offer a high dependency unit for the use of visitors and carers.

M&S came under fire again earlier this year when a young woman was told she couldn’t use the disabled toilets and was then hustled into the men’s loo, seemingly because she has short hair & a member of staff- who probably had concerns about single-sex loos- mistook her for a man. This type of situation would be far less likely to arise of course, if ACTUAL MEN could show the necessary self-respect and restraint to stay the hell out of the ladies loos.

As for urinals, let’s be realistic, they are not going to be used by women. Ever. It doesn’t matter what logo or word is on the door, MEN, LADIES or that weird symbol that looks like something out of one of Alistair Crowley’s notebooks- women do not use urinals. Oh ok, alright, there was one time a zillion years ago when I was really drunk in a club and absolutely DESPERATE for the loo and my friend somehow ended up helping me to wee in a urinal because she thought that was the best of a load of really bad options… but it’s all a bit of a blur TBH and not relevant because you know what I mean.

Marks and Spencers, this is the reality of your gender policies.

What happened here is relevant because these are pretty indicative responses. Remember, these three women were not expecting men to be in the toilet. There was a sign on the door saying it was currently allocated for women. Still they felt uncomfortable. This is how I interpreted what happened.

The first woman was a bit disconcerted and wanted to double check. She agreed when I said “We don’t want to be sharing toilets with random men, do we?” but didn’t seem intimidated by the idea. She’d prefer to have a single-sex space but it wasn’t a huge deal.

The second woman just thought urinals were gros & smelly -as they are, boys, FFS, they are disgusting things! Doesn’t your piss just splash back up all over you? Actually, don’t even answer that. Even though these ones were clean, we all know men piss all over the place. We city dwellers have seen it with our own eyes in those gros outdoor open sewers the city sticks up at the weekend. Ergo we may not want men in our toilets for that reason alone.

The third woman was very uncomfortable. Really didn’t like the idea that men might be in there, looked as if she felt trapped and not very safe even thinking about it, even after we had reassured her there were no men in the room. I should add that yes, there were cubicles and as far as I can remember they had floor to ceiling locked doors. She still felt uncomfortable. Her discomfort may have been for religious reasons but to be honest, the reason she felt uncomfortable shouldn’t matter. She still felt uncomfortable.

What about the guys?

Well, it’s not often men have to stand in a queue to use a public toilet, while women don’t have to wait, so that was probably a new experience for them. But they weren’t psychologically uncomfortable. They felt able to loudly and cheerfully make a joke to a complete stranger about the absurdity of non binary identities; that and their willingness to wait showed that they respected the importance of single sex toilets.

I would also hazzard a guess that had the women’s toilets been handed over to the men, the men would also have felt concerned and uncomfortable. Because not only do men just want to pee in peace, they recognise that women want privacy to go to the loo. A decent bloke doesn’t want to use the women’s toilets to validate his identity because he understands that women’s toilets are not about him, they are about giving women a single-sex space to wee, poo and bleed.

My conclusion? Female people would prefer toilets for females. Even the ones who don’t really care would prefer it. I wrote about this here back in 2018. To be honest, I’m gobsmacked it even needs to be said. And the same goes for changing rooms. OBVIOUSLY.

I mean seriously, M&S. It’s not rocket science.

Oh yeah, right. Happy Pride.

Posted in Children & Young People, Opinion Pieces, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No Men in Women’s Prisons – protests in England 2022

Mention the presence of men in women’s prisons and most people will assume you’re talking about the guards, not the inmates. Tell somebody that there are male prisoners being held in women’s prisons and it’s quite likely that they’ll look at you as if you’re mad. Add that in some cases women are expected to shower and change with these men, and you can bet that look intensifies.

When you inform them that there are rapists in women’s prisons… well at that point they start thinking that you really must be mad. Because it couldn’t possibly be true, could it? Not here.

But there’s one little bit of information that supposedly makes all the difference and suddenly makes it all alright. These particular men say that they are women. They claim to ‘live as women’ and believe they know what it is to feel like a woman, as if there is one uniform experience of womanhood outside of biology, and as if, if there were such a thing, a man might somehow comprehend what it might be.

In fact, if there were such a thing as ‘feeling like a woman’ and if a man could know what it was then it would cease to be a shared experience of womanhood and become ‘an experience shared by some people’.

But we aren’t allowed to talk about that.

A bit about prisons

“In general, females appear to be substantially underrepresented throughout the CJS compared with males. This is particularly true in relation to the most serious offence types and sentences…”  

Ministry of Justice report 2020

Separate prison systems operate in the three UK jurisdictions: England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Wales does not have a women’s prison.

Protestors outside the Ministry of Justice

There are 117 prisons in England and Wales, As of June 2021, they held 78,756 people.

Twelve of these are women’s prisons and two of those twelve, East Sutton Park and Ashkam Grange, are ‘open’ prisons.

A third of female prisoners report a history of sexual abuse and over half report experiencing domestic violence.

Prisons are not, nor have they ever been, segregated by gender identity. It is not a woman’s gender identity that leaves her vulnerable to male violence and sexual assault.

Men make up 96% of the total prison population and nearly one in five is serving a sentence for sexual offences. There are approximately 13,000 male sex offenders in prison.

There are fewer than 3,200 women in prison and fewer than 100 are serving sentences for sexual offences.

A 2020 Ministry of Justice report titled Women and the Criminal Justice System, released statistics showing that, in 2019, 98% of those charged with sexual offences were men.

But transwomen are women…

If ‘transwomen are women’ then they should follow female patterns of criminality, right? But they don’t. Trans-identified men (aka transwomen) follow the same patterns as other men.

In October 2017 the organisation Fair Play for Women (FPFW) produced a report, later confirmed by the MOJ, which showed that approximately half of transgender prisoners are located in sex offender units or category A prisons. You can peruse the FPFW ‘Prison Archives’ here.

In 2018 the BBC submitted FOI requests to the Ministry of Justice and was informed that 60/125 transgender inmates in England and Wales were serving time for sexual offences. 27 were convicted of rape, plus a further five of attempted rape, and thirteen were convicted of possessing, distributing or making indecent images of children.

Inmates with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) were not included in the data.

A Swedish study of trans-identified people who had undergone ‘surgical and legal sex reassignment’ Dhejne et al. (2011) concluded that men retained male patterns of criminality post-transition. This was also true of their propensity to commit violent crimes.

The nuances of this information, while important when examining the bigger picture, are not needed to reach the conclusion that trans-identified men (transwomen) are, at very least, no less of a violent or sexual threat to women than any other men.

It is really important to make it clear that nobody is claiming all trans-identified men are rapists and sex offenders, any more than they are claiming that all men are rapists and sex offenders.

Acknowledging the reality of this is neither misandry nor transphobia.

Fixing the figures

Often the crimes of trans-identifed males are reported in the press as ‘women’s crimes’. Sometimes their arrests are even recorded as women’s offences, because many police forces admit they use ‘gender identity’ when recording crime data rather than sex.

FPFW submitted a series of Freedom of Information requests in 2019 and found that:

“…police commonly record self-declared gender identity instead of birth sex; even when the crime is rape. This means suspected and convicted rapists are recorded in official statistics as female if they no longer wish to identify with their male birth sex.”

Even when a sexual threat is not involved, crime figures are twisted when male crimes are recorded as having been committed by women.

Zoe Watts

Take the example of 35 year old Zoe.

Zoe is an ex-police support officer with a ‘disturbing’ fascination for weapons. Zoe built a bomb and hoarded a cache of illegal weapons including a stun gun. Zoe is actually a bloke called Kyle.  Lincolnshire police have recorded his crime as having been committed by a woman.

Kate Coleman, of Keep Prisons Single Sex (KPSS) says, “Males and male crime are hidden in the female data and statistics. This has serious implications for the accuracy of statistics and service planning and development.”

“This means that if a man arrested on suspicion of rape says he is a woman, it will be recorded in the female statistics. We think this is wrong. Sex is an important variable in analysing crime. We think that data on offending should be recorded by sex. We think this is vital for service planning throughout the criminal justice system.” KPSS

 

So crime stats are one thing.

But men in women’s prisons?

Rapists?

Murderers?

Surely not… I mean that would be insane, right?

 

protest outside the Ministry of Justice

 

How do you get a Gender Recognition Certificate?

A Gender Recognition Certificate sounds very grandiose and important but is relatively straightforward to obtain. You do not have to be on hormones. You do not have to have had, or plan to have, any kind of surgery. You can be in possession of a perfectly well-fuctioning penis.

You do have to be 18 or over, have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, have lived in your ‘acquired gender’ for two years and be willing to say you’ll never change your mind.

Applying for a GRC by the standard route (there are other ways) can be done online and costs £5. The cost was cut from £140 in 2021 to help make the process ‘simpler and much more affordable’.

What does it mean?

Once you have a GRC you have  ‘become’ the opposite sex in the eyes of the law.

Currently, the presumption is that a man with a gender recognition certificate must be put in a women’s prison. There are nine such men in the female estate.

If he has a GRC, it no longer relevant to the MOJ if a man has a penis or if he’s had it removed. It doesn’t matter whether he’s doing time for compulsively shoplifting JoJo bows or multiple rape. He is assessed ‘as a woman’ and in almost all circumstances, into the female estate he goes. I say ‘almost all’ because we do know that there has been an exception made to this, and that there is one man with a GRC who is held in the male estate.

However, the MOJ’s current policy also allows for men without a GRC to be housed alongside female prisoners.

Looking at it statistically: less than 1% of trans-identified men without a GRC are housed in women’s prisons. This rises to 90% of those who have obtained a GRC.

“Where a male who has been convicted of sexual offences obtains a GRC, the risk assessment tool that is used for adult men convicted of sexual offences can no longer be used. This is because this risk assessment tool is not for use with women.”  explains KPSS.

The MoJ says a male prisoner is only held in the female estate if the risk posed to women in prison is ‘manageable’… we believe that no male prisoner should ever be held alongside women in prison.” KPSS

One in fifty??

A man who says he’s a woman but doesn’t have a GRC can still ask to be housed in the female estate. Most of the time the powers that be say ‘no’, which is a bloody good job as currently there appear to be a whopping 158 men in prison who are claiming to be women.

One in fifty male prisoners currently claims to identify as transgender and within some communities that figure rises to as high as one in ten.

You can read more facts and figures around this in the HMP and Probation Service Offender Equalities Annual Report 2020/21 here.

While this article does not address the situation in Scotland, which does not follow English law, it is worth noting that earlier this year Dr Matthew Maycock of Dundee University reported research results suggesting that some trans-identified men ‘revert to males‘ when they leave Scottish prisons. One woman told him, He (the prisoner) wanted to be in this hall because he wanted to have sex with loads of lassies.” Another said, The last one to get out, back living as a man. The one before that got out, back living as a man.”

Two other things worth taking a moment to reflect on at this point are that the government of England and Wales has recently made the process of applying for a GRC ‘simpler and much more affordable’ and that once a man has a GRC he is a woman in the eyes of the law and must be placed in a women’s prison.

Currently it is believed that there is only one male without a GRC housed in the female estate. However, the population of trans-identifed males in prison (excluding GRC holders) has grown by 22% since the last data collection point in 2019.

“That’s significant growth,” Kate Coleman of Keep Prisons Single Sex tells me.

“This is a growing issue that the Prison Service is going to have to accommodate. The men’s estate needs to step up to meet the needs of this small, but growing, cohort.”

I wonder, does it seem like such a huge stretch of the imagination to consider that non-GRC holding men may soon start bringing court cases against the MOJ ?

After all, if ‘trans rights are human rights’ means anything, it surely means men should be put in women’s prisons if they want to be.

Women in men’s prisons?

As far as we know, there are no women, with or without a GRC, held in men’s prisons. There are believed to be 39 trans-identified women in the female estate. For obvious reasons, these women are not put into the male estate and there are no reports, that I could find, of women prisoners requesting to be put into the male estate.

We also know that theoretically a woman could be held in the male estate if she was considered to be a high enough risk: such a high risk that it wasn’t possible to assess her under the current MOJ guidelines for women.

Think Jessica Jones’s mum. Or even Jesscica on a bad day. It doesn’t happen for obvious reasons.

I could find only one such case in England, that of sisters Marian and Dolorus Price, who were held in Brixton prison after being convicted for their part in the 1973 car bombings in London.

Politics were at play: the sisters went on hunger strike, demanding to be moved to Ireland, and were force-fed in the English prison system.  A 1974 House of Commons debate concerning the women records a Mr Lipton asking, “Will my right honorable friend bear in mind that Brixton was never intended to accommodate women prisoners?” and a Mr Fowler replying that, “…the prime concern must be that these prisoners remain under maximum security conditions.”

The Prices were eventually moved to Ireland.

A bit of history

Elizabeth Fry, tireless reformer, mother of eleven (!) and founder of the ‘British Ladies Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners’, played a large part in securing the 1826 Gaols Act, which mandated both for sex-segregation of prisons and for the provision of female warders for female prisoners.

This was not so inmates and custodians could bond over their identities but an attempt to protect women from sexual exploitation and abuse- and to a certain extent it worked.

Fry’s work not only ensured that female officers were appointed to watch over female prisoners, but in many public institutions in Britain at least, no male authority figure could have access to poor and vulnerable women without the presence of a female chaperone.” wrote Rosalind Crone for BBC History magazine in 2017.

Nearly 200 years after the Gaols Act, we appear to be walking backwards.

As transportation became less of a practical solution to getting rid of unwanted, mostly prostituted or impoverished women, the first convict prison for women opened in Brixton. It remained as such from 1853-1869 and held up to 650 women. Women often moved on to the Fulham refuge halfway-house before being released, the plan being that in theory they could better find jobs in service, a refuge appearing a more reputable prior abode than a prison to a prospective employer.

Fast forward a hundred years and in January 1947, HMP Askham Grange was opened. It was the first open women’s prison in the country. In 1979 two prisoners, Jenny Hicks and Jackie Holborough founded the Clean Break Theatre Company, which still runs today.

Another excellent organisation, one which works to bring art to prisoners and the art of prisoners to those outside prisons, is the Koestler Trust.

Ahem. Back on piste, please.

Men in women’s prisons – how did we get here?

It used to be that in order to be placed in a women’s prison, a man had to have undergone ‘sex reassignment surgery’ – ie had had his penis removed – before he was convicted and sent to prison.

In 1999, sex change surgery became available on the NHS after the Appeal Court decided that gender dysphoria was a legitimate illness.  This meant that men in prison were also entitled to this treatment. After such surgery they could be moved to women’s prisons.

“The Prison Service has given the go-ahead for six prisoners, including a murderer, a kidnapper and an armed robber, to undergo sex changes on the National Health Service.” reported the Independent in 1999.” The decision follows a legal challenge by one of the prisoners, who has been fighting an eight-year battle to change his gender.”

John Pilley, fighter of the eight year battle, did undergo surgery and was moved to a women’s prison. Seven years later he changed his mind. By 2018 he had detransitoned and moved back to the male estate.

Following a judicial review in 2009,  Karen Jones, who strangled his partner and later attempted to rape a shop assistant, won the right to be housed in the female estate.

KPSS explains the paradox that arose surrounding this case:

“…his entitlement to surgery could only be met by placing him in a women’s prison. His right to this surgery had already been established in the 1990s, therefore keeping him in the male estate would have interfered with his legal right to treatment.”

Contrary to popular belief, men aren’t put in women’s prisons to protect them from violent men, they are put there so they can ‘live as women’.

In 2011 the requirement to be placed in the female estate was changed from ‘genital surgery’ to ‘legal gender’.

In 2015, Tara Hudson, who did not have a GRC- but did have eight previous convictions and a penis-  was convicted of head butting a barman who refused to serve him and sent to HMP Bristol.  The power of the ‘pretty pass’ meant that a petition gathered over 150,000 signatures to have him moved to a women’s prison. Hudson was moved to HMP Eastwood Park, a women’s prison.

Hudson did later attempted to sue the MOJ, saying he had found the experience of men’s prison ‘intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive’.

“Girls show their emotions, they cry and they self harm, but males when they have got a problem, they just let it out with violence.” said Hudson of his time in prison for… er… beating someone up really badly.

A few months before his conviction, Hudson (aka Holly Johansson) told the Daily Mirror, “When I’m modelling for glamour shoots I feel like the sexiest girl alive, no-one has any idea that I’m actually a bloke. I love dressing up and showing off my assets without anyone knowing I’m actually a pre-op transsexual.”

TransCrimeUK reports: “The MoJ reportedly state in court papers that Hudson “is as a matter of biological fact a man” and add that the term ‘transwoman’ has no legal significance. They say they have adopted female pronouns when referring to Hudson only “out of respect for her wishes”.

and yet…

That same MoJ saw fit to place Hudson in a women’s prison. Why?

The Ministry of Justice’sReview on the Care and Management of Transgender Offenders’ (2016) decided ‘that allowing trans-identified men to ‘experience the system in the gender in which they identify will, in the great majority of cases, represent the most humane and safest way to act.”

This policy resulted in the placing of several more men in women’s prisons which- quelle surprise– led to women being assaulted.

David Thompson / Karen White, “convicted paedophile and on remand for grievous bodily harm, burglary, multiple rapes and other sexual offences against women” was sent to New Hall women’s prison, where he assaulted at least two more women. Infamously, a court was told that one woman, “could see the defendant’s penis erect and sticking out of the top of her (sic) pants”.

In 2018, Fair Play for Women asked ‘after Karen White, what is the government doing to make sure women in prison never get attacked by a male inmate ever again?’ using this startling graphic which quickly went viral.

Thompson was returned to the male estate and under the current MOJ risk assessments, it is unlikely that he would be placed in the female estate.

At the time of the Karen White scandal there were 22 males in women’s prisons. Now there are half as many. While there are currently fewer men housed in women’s prisons, the number of male inmates ‘identifying’ as women is on the increase.

In 2018, the Guardian reported that Thompson/White was ‘undergoing gender reassignment surgery.’ If this has happened, the public has not been told. If he successfully applies for a GRC- for which he wouldn’t even need the surgery- then by law he would have to be moved back to the female estate, right? I suspect I’m not the only one who is both worried and confused.

“The women’s prison population represents just 5% of all prisoners in England and Wales.” reports Fair Play for Women. “Any small increases in the number of transfers of trans-identifying males from male prisons would have a disproportionately large impact on the relatively small population of women prisoners.”

You can read the case studies of some men who are, or were, housed in women’s prisons here.

I’m going to mention just three of them.

One male currently in the female estate is Alan Baker / Alex Stewart (left), a murderer whose penis accompanied him to the female estate at HMP Greenock, very much still attached to his body. There, he took showers with the female prisoners and won the prison’s ‘Miss Fitness’ trophy and the accompanying prizes.

Here, in this women’s prison, he became enamoured of Daniel / Sophie Eastwood- also a convicted murderer and also a man. After they were repeatedly caught being sexually inappropriate in public, Eastwood was moved to the women’s section at HMP Polmut.  Stewart remains at HMP Greenock.

Ponting

Martin Ponting, jailed in the 90s for raping a child and a disabled young woman, began transitioning over a decade into his sentence. In 2017, Martin, aka Jessica, was moved to HMP Bronzefield, a woman’s prison, where he had to be put into segregation after making unwanted sexual advances to inmates.

Ponting is no longer in HMP Bronzefield, as he has recently completed his sentence and been released.

 

the protest outside the MOJ

 

The Judicial Review

In 2021 a judicial review was brought against the the Ministry of Justice by an anonymous ex-prisoner who asserted that she was sexually assaulted in prison by a ‘transwoman’ with both a GRC and convictions for serious sexual offences.

On 2nd July 2021 the result of the review was announced.  It is an astonishingly ditzy work of incomprehensible woowoo and you can read it here.

The review helpfully explains that “Women prisoners shall normally be kept separate from male prisoners, but goes on to elaborate,  “the population of a female prison may include persons who were born female and identify as such (referred to in this judgment as ‘women’); persons who were born male but identify as female, whether or not they have undergone any alteration of physical characteristics (‘transgender women’); and transgender women who have obtained a GRC (‘transgender women with a GRC’).”

It is important to the Claimant’s case to note,” it adds, that both a transgender woman and a transgender woman with a GRC may retain male genitalia.”

It is an important part of the Claimant’s case that many in the female prison estate, including her, have been the victims of sexual abuse and/or domestic violence during their lives.

The Defendant does not dispute that proposition, and accepts that women prisoners in general are a vulnerable cohort and that past experience of sexual abuse or rape is prevalent.”

Without wading waist-high in the woeful waters of woowoo for too long, the short end of the stick was this: the High Court ruled that it was lawful for the MOJ to house high-risk males in the female estate- despite acknowledging the fact that this may cause female prisoners to “suffer fear and acute anxiety”.

“I’m disappointed that the Court decided against issuing a more robust ruling on the rights of female prisoners in relation to male prisoners who identify as women.” reported Richard Garside of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. “Rights are a pie, the Court agrees, and female prisoners are being expected to give up some of their share to accommodate males.”

“Women’s physical safety is considered,” observes Fair Play for Women, “but their psychological well-being is not. Imagine the mental trauma some women will suffer when forced to share their space with fully-intact male prisoners who are known to have physically and sexually assaulted women.”

A female prisoner told KPSS:

Being in prison with male prisoners you always feel on edge… we know they are not women… they are physically aggressive and threatening…

Now he is allowed to shower with us women… he moves the shower curtain so we can see his penis…

We have to call them ‘she’ and ‘her’ and have to use their female names…  if we don’t, we are punished and lose our enhanced prisoner status.

I can’t understand how anyone can say that imprisoning males in women’s prisons is right.”

Amend the GRA

In January 2022, Lord Blencathr tabled an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill. He asked for a new clause, ’20A: sex-specific incarceration’  to be added to the Gender Recognition Act.  This would “ensure that prisoners with a gender recognition certificate who are suspected or convicted of violent or sexual offences are treated as their sex registered at birth with respect to housing on the prison estate.”

“The needs of women in prison matter,” he told the House, “and these needs mandate single-sex provision.”

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. I simply say this to my noble friend: if legislation is insufficient at the moment to secure single-sex provision for women in prison, all females in this country are left vulnerable.”

You can read the discussion here. The idea of the amendment did receive some support, but not enough, and it was withdrawn.

“This policy of downgrading the rights of biological sex women is heading for the scrapheap of history,” said Blencathr, who said he was withdrawing the amendment, “not because I am wrong but because I cannot win in the numbers tonight.”

The Protests

Some of the women protesting outisde the MOJ

In the first months of 2022 a series of protests were organised around English jails.  The first of these was the protest outside Styal prison on 29th January.

29th January – Styal

Styal is a prison and young offender institution (YOI) for women aged 18 and over. The buildings were originally an orphanage for destitute children from the Manchester area and became a women’s prison in 1962. Located in Wilmslow, Cheshire, the prison houses around 480 women.

The protest outside Styal was organised by the Northern RadFem Network who were joined by Manchester Feminists and others.

Protestors outside Styal prison on 29/1/22   –   photo: Helen Steel

““The prison service have been so busy looking down, rolling the red-carpet out to convicted males wanting to enter women’s prisons. They need to look up and see the red-flags these men are waving furiously in everyone’s faces.” said one of the speakers.

Attendee Kalesi Wolf  described the event as ‘a fantastic protest’ with ‘amazing emotional speeches’. 

She posted on Twitter:“I took my shield and joined NorthernRadFem to protest outside Styal prison:

#keepprisonssinglesex

#NoMalesInFemaleJails

#womenarenothumanshields

 

12th February – Ministry of Justice

Around 180 protestors gathered outside the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) on Saturday 12th February.

The MOJ is located on Petty France (not, as it’s often called ‘petit’ France) about fifteen minutes walk from Victoria Station. It’s a perfectly Orwellian-looking building, 14 floors of soulless concrete, vast and stern, erected in 1976 afterwhich it housed the Home Office until 2004.

“The Ministry of Justice is a major government department, at the heart of the justice system. We work to protect & advance the principles of justice.” – Government website.

While the MOJ isn’t busy at the weekend we’d decided that would be the best time to get a decent turn out for a protest. There had been brief talk of costumes- a fox and a hen in a cage were mentioned- or a giant condom. And dinosaurs too, of course. But it was decided that this serious issue needed a serious protest. So none of that!

If a group of people intend to march dramatically with whistles & bells, waving placards as they go, they are supposed to register with the police. Protesting outside a building, as long as you’re not blocking the way for passers-by, needs no such declaration.

Several women had made placards, or had them printed up; some banners had survived from previous prison protests. About thirty of us gathered at the Wetherspoons at Victoria Station beforehand for some lunch and liaison. After wetting our metaphorical whistles, we walked un-dramatically, while not-waving-anything-or-handing-out-any-leaflets, to Petty France where we were pleased to see another large group had already gathered on the pavement outside the MOJ, in the bright but chilly afternoon air.

A few of the group volunteered to stand outside St James Park tube station, just over the road, and hand out the distinctive pink and white leaflets which we had ordered from Keep Prisons Single Sex. You can see the leaflets elsewhere in this article.

Before the speeches there was much chanting: “No males in female jails!” and “Keep prisons single sex!”

Speeches were made at most of the prison protests; some were written by the women who read them out, on other occassions they read out the words of women who were still in prison or who could not be present. Some speeches were repeated at different events. In this article I have only included the full content of those made outside the MOJ.

The Speeches

Opening Speech: Julia Long

“Throughout the United Kingdom, women’s prisons are currently run as mixed-sex facilities because male prisoners who claim to be women are housed in the female estate alongside women.

The Ministry of Justice says that to keep all these male prisoners who claim to be women – these men – out of women’s prisons would “impermissibly deny them their human rights”. That’s right: male prisoners, including those convicted of the most serious violent and sexual offences against women and including those – the vast majority, if not very likely all – with fully functioning penises, apparently have the human right to be housed with women in prison. A right that – apparently – must not be denied them.

Well, what about women’s rights? What about women in prison? Throughout the criminal justice system it is recognised that women in prison are exceptionally traumatised and made vulnerable through histories of male violence and sexual abuse often since childhood, with alarmingly high rates of mental mental distress, self-harm and attempted suicide. And I do want to say just now that probably some of you here will have seen the report that came out just this week of Foston Hall, a women’s prison in Derbyshire, where since 2019 two women have killed themselves; over the course of a year there were 1,750 incidents of self-harm recorded, and that is with a prison population of 272 inmates.

They said that there are record levels of self-harm and mental distress in that prison. The crisis hotline in that prison went unanswered and untended for weeks, so anyone trying to call that crisis line would get no help whatsoever. They recorded over 1,000 calls to The Samaritans, because those women were not getting support in that estate.

You probably again are familiar with the absolutely horrendous cases of two babies dying, one in a prison cell and one in a prison toilet, because what must have been desperate calls for assistance from those pregnant women went unanswered, with the result that one baby was stillborn and the other I believe died shortly after being born. So what about women’s rights? Before we start indulging absurd demands for ‘gender-affirming items’ for these male prisoners, before we start indulging these male prisoners in their fantasies, what about women’s rights?

What about the rights of women in prison?

We know that ¾ of these women are in prison for non-violent offences. What is the context of that? Homelessness, poverty, male violence, problems with drugs and alcohol usually used as a coping mechanism because of the appalling situations these women are in. So what about women’s rights? Research published last year in the Lancet Psychiatry journal found that almost 80% of the women in prison that they surveyed had experienced significant head injury. In most cases this was the result of years of violence from male partners.

The Government’s Female Offender Strategy mandates a “trauma responsive approach”. (Now isn’t that one of these buzzwords, a “trauma responsive approach”?) Now, can anyone explain to me how it is “trauma responsive” to force a female offender who has been the victim of rape to share prison accommodation with a man who has been convicted of rape?

Last month the government rejected a proposal brought before the House of Lords to create specialist, separate transgender units, away from the female estate. This would have kept all prisoners safe. In rejecting this, the government shows that this is not about prisoner safety. This is about fulfilling the desires of men, which are seen to be more important than the basic needs of women. Women who have no choice in the spaces they use, or with whom they share them. Women who, like all women, have the right to single-sex provision for reasons of dignity, privacy and safety. And women do not feel safe in prison. In that Foston Hall report, 1/3 of the women said that they felt unsafe in that estate. So let’s think about their safety before we start indulging these men and their fantasies.

Now, the Ministry of Justice claims that their current policy is “working well”. But that’s not what women in prison say. Women in prison report sexualised and threatening behaviour, instances of grooming, exhibitionism and assault. They report feeling fear and being unsupported by prison staff who are reluctant to act on their complaints. And again, I think if we just remember those pregnant women calling desperately for help, we can see that we cannot guarantee that women will be supported and listened to when they make complaints about this. Women are told their concerns are transphobic or are instructed that they may not use language to accurately refer to the sex of these men, because apparently this ‘misgendering’ is bullying. Well, putting rapists in women’s prisons looks very much like bullying to me.

 

“Hello. I’m Belstaffie.

“For twenty years I was employed by the West Yorkshire Probation Service and I specialised in the assessment and risk management of male sexual offenders, both in custody and in the community. I also conducted a number of reports and assessments at women’s prisons in the north of the UK.  I worked with transsexual prisoners on the Vulnerable Prisoner Unit at HMP Leeds, so I KNOW that the male estate IS fit for purpose for these men.

When I retired, I thought that my concerns with predatory male offenders was over.  That was until the MOJ introduced  ‘self-identification’  in women’s prisons for male prisoners.

When I heard that CONVICTED male prisoners were claiming transgender status and ‘identifying as women’ within the male prison estates, I wasn’t concerned, as I know from experience that their needs can be managed in the male estates and often within the Vulnerable Prisoner Units, which are in every UK jail.  It offers enhanced support and protection for prisoners rendered vulnerable, by drug debts, sexual offenders, and poor copers.

But …when I read that these men were being transferred to FEMALE prisons, based on their stated gender and not based on their sex, I became extremely alarmed.

I was alarmed because as sex offender specialist, knowing what I know about these dangerous men and their dangerous and harmful behaviours, juxtaposed with the vulnerability of the women locked up in UK jails.  For instance 80% of women at HMP & YOI Styal are serving short custodial sentences for non-violent, non-sexual, non-predatory offences, such as social security fraud, shoplifting and for not paying the family TV licence.

In the report released this month by the HMIP called ‘Focus On Women’s Prisons’ the vulnerability of women and teenage girls on the female estates was highlighted as gravely concerning. The Inspectorate reported that   prisons were often used as “places of safety” for acutely mentally ill women.

In this report they state the following, “In our inspections we find that the fundamental principles underpinning good staff-prisoner relationships include a clear understanding and application of trauma-informed ways of working by all. These approaches do not have to be complicated; it can be as simple as recognising the effect of traumatic life events on a woman’s current behaviour.”

For instance, survivors of multiple rapes, indecent assaults, child sexual abuse, prostituted women and girls, and domestic violence.

Offences committed by men against them because they were/are female.

Many of the women and teenage girls are victimised long before they are imprisoned. Men’s offending on the other hand, whether they identify as women or not, is INFINITELY more serious, more dangerous and they commit acts which cause far more serious harm.

I liaise with other sex offender specialists in the UK, who are employed by the National Probation Service. A colleague, whom I hold in very high esteem, and I worked out that we have assessed MANY thousands of male sex offenders over a combined 60 years’ practice!  THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS. In those combined 60 years of practice, we came up with five female sex offenders, between us.  Five!  What a shocking ratio!

Assessments based on the offenders SEX are essential if an accurate and robust risk assessment is to be made. And these risk assessments are intended to reduce risk of harm and protect the public.

This policy of Self-ID that the MOJ is implementing, puts the feelings of certain convicted men, who for whatever reason are “identifying as women” over the safe, humane and dignified containment of women and teenage girls.

Anyone that has assessed and managed male sexual offenders KNOWS that they are THE most manipulative prisoners in the system. They are professional manipulators and manipulate not only victims, but organisations and institutions.  It’s called ‘conditioning’ and ‘grooming’.

That is why sexual predators are REMOVED from society and incarcerated – away from their Ideal Victim Types (often women and teenage girls), who are often the primary victims of these men and their male pattern violence.

This male pattern violence does NOT diminish or reduce as soon as they don feminine clothing, wear make-up and concern themselves with other gender-affirming items and feminine frippery.

Any male prisoner can now ‘identify’ as a woman if HE should so desire. Therefore ANY male prisoner has the right, under the MOJ policy, to identify as a woman and should therefore be housed in the female estate. They say!

As a retired Probation Officer, as a sexual offender specialist and as a woman-

I KNOW this policy of self-identification is callous, dangerous and inhumane.

Most people in the UK do not know this is happening and that is why we are outside the Ministry Of Justice today, drawing attention to this massive INJUSTICE being played out in the females estates, using already traumatised and vulnerable women as prey for predators.

HMP & YOI Styal was protested on 29th Feb by thirty women representing 6 local northern feminist and women’s rights groups and it was very well received by the general public. There will be more protests at women’s estates across the UK over the coming months, organised by a number of feminist groups in the UK. Please attend them!

LISTEN!   Women didn’t start this inhumanity, But we WILL conjure an ALMIGHTY storm, on a NUMBER of fronts to stop this state sanctioned abuse and gaslighting of women and teenage girls in UK prisons.

Thank you for attending this protest against self-identification and thank you for your support for our female prisoners. They deserve Justice like everyone else, but they’re not getting it at the hands of the Ministry of Injustice for Women.

Keep prisons single sex!”

Rebekah

“Today, as an ex inmate, I’m speaking on behalf of my incarcerated sisters, and I hope my words represent their perspectives and fears whilst they are unable to speak out.

Women in prison do not operate in a hierarchy. We innately recognise trauma in one another and we tend to band together and form attachments. Inside, this tendency is amplified because all we have is each other. Of course there are fall outs and shifting alliances, but despite this there is always a stable power balance that remains relatively static. The presence of just one man takes this stability and throws it into chaos. Even if that man is one of the ‘good guys’ the dynamic in a group of women will be irrevocably altered, and they will have to sacrifice the links of comfort and security they’ve been able to build and count on in an otherwise abysmal situation.

We KNOW, however, that these particular men are never, ever, even remotely ‘good guys’. They’re predators. A full 60% of male prisoners presently identifying as transgender have been convicted of sex offences, and knowing the pathetically low rates of conviction, it’s safe to assume these are extremely serious offences. These men know exactly what they’re doing, and so do the prison officers, governors and policy makers that have green lit this disgusting process at every step, allowing them access to some of the most easy targets.

There is not one single aspect of life inside that wouldn’t be adversely affected by having mixed sex facilities. Women will avoid showering in communal washing spaces. They’ll stay in their cells during any recreation time if common areas are dominated by men. They’ll stop going to the gym and stop partaking in enriching activities – this has already happened, in 2018 a male murderer named Alex Stewart was placed in HMP Greenock and proceeded to destroy a women’s fitness tournament. Of course, anyone that had a problem with this was labelled transphobic and thusly dismissed.

Male and female prisoners are VASTLY different demographics.The female prison population is just 5%, and we’re imprisoned overwhelmingly for non violent offences. This cannot be overstated. We are not the same as male criminals, we do not share anything like the same offending pattern. Ministers and legislators know this damn well and flagrantly disregard the already scant wellbeing of women to appease the whims of manipulative men. It is utterly contemptible that the women bearing the sharp end of this abhorrent capitulation are the ones most in need of protection.

This mad idea that men magically become women on their say so is a nefarious lie, and this twisting of reality is making its way into legislation and the highest echelons of lawmaking. The analogy of foxes in henhouses has never been more apt. HOW has it happened that rapists, child molesters and murderers are being given a state sanctioned free pass to continue abusing? Who the hell let this happen?

We’re here to hold to account every person that implemented this dangerous nightmare, and urge them to consider the devastating consequences of their actions. We want nothing less than a total reversal of this awful policy. We demand the removal of every single man from women’s prisons, recognition that a mistake of unfathomable magnitude has been made, and a promise that this can never, EVER happen again.”

Dr Em

This is a statement from Vicky, a former prisoner:

“I was on the same wing as a TW who was in for a violent crime. A lot of the women were scared of him. He was quite rude and because of his prison job he kind of lorded it over the women. He was ‘untouchable ‘ in our eyes, as if you said anything to or about him you would get a warning or nicking. Many women lost canteen and/or association for stating the fact he was a man, and that they felt uncomfortable with it. Our cells all had showers which I’m grateful for as if they didn’t I know if have ended up down the block as I know the prison would have let the TW use the showers at the same time as us.

What really annoyed me was the fact officers bent over backwards to accommodate him. One woman was actually moved to a different cell so he could have his friend move in to that cell which was next door to his.

I was padded up with an East European woman who spoke limited English, she’d never been inside before and was put in with me as ‘I knew the rules etc” and could help her. She needed help with everything from canteen sheets to bail apps. The jail didn’t help at all but would do anything and everything to help the TW.

One day an officer overheard a conversation between me and her about men in prison (my padmate was scared and it was hard to explain especially to ease her anxiety as she was a trafficking victim). We got a warning there and then and a short while later our personal officer came to see us. We were called transphobic, bullies and the prison did not tolerate it! I said the prison was meant to be trauma informed but that this was BS as you aren’t putting women’s safety first, and the fact the jail knew I’m a victim of rape and violence at the hands of men, and my padmate was a victim of trafficking.  My personal officer basically said it’s no excuse to bully another woman! There was no bullying it was a private conversation. I said I wanted to put a complaint in but was told if I did it would make my stay very uncomfortable. I was told this a couple of times during my sentence.”

DJ Lippy

In March 2021 FDJ, a female prisoner, brought a judicial review against the Secretary of State for Justice. She had been sexually assaulted by J, a male prisoner who identifies as transgender and has a Gender Recognition Certificate. J was serving a sentence for serious sexual offences against women and was held in a women’s prison with her. FDJ challenged the lawfulness of the prison policies concerning the allocation of transgender prisoners on the basis that they unlawfully discriminate against women and misstate the law.

This is her statement:

“Being in prison with male prisoners, you always feel on edge. You know something could happen at any time. We know they are not women. They are physically threatening and aggressive. I was sexually assaulted and I am not the only woman who has been. They haven’t had surgery and they expose themselves. One of them had been told he couldn’t shower at the same time as us women. He made a formal complaint and said this was a breach of his human rights. So now he is allowed to shower with us. And because he now has that right, the other males have that right too. There’s only a shower curtain between us. He moves the curtain so we can all see his penis when he is washing himself or shaving his legs. This is disgusting and I think it is disgusting that the prison allows this.

We can’t complain about anything. They are very well protected and it feels like our rights as women just don’t count. We have to call them ‘she’ and ‘her’ and have to use their female names. If we don’t, we are punished and lose our enhanced prisoner or D-Category status. It is horrible to do that to women.

I am very upset that I lost my legal case. I can’t understand how anyone can say that imprisoning males alongside women is the right thing to do. The prisoner who attacked me was convicted of the most serious sexual offences against girls and still has his penis. How can the government say that putting him in prison with women is the right thing to do? It’s not. I am out of prison now. But I think about all the other women still in prison who have to live with these males. This is dangerous, disgusting and wrong.”

protest outside the Ministry of Justice

Further Protests

On 26th February there were protests outside three prisons: Styal, Low Newton and Downview.

26th February- Styal

Protestors again gathered at Styal, on the same day as the protests outside Downview and Low Newton.

“Back at Styal prison for another protest against male prisoners being put in women’s prisons & against MOJ proposals to allow male officers with a GRC to strip search women,” tweeted Helen Steel. 

This is a breach of women’s privacy and dignity. #NoMalesInWomensJails #KeepPrisonsSingleSex”.

The protestors, she said, were supported bymany more who couldn’t make it to a protest, but who oppose the violations of women’s privacy, dignity and safety caused by forcing them to share confined spaces with males.”

In Belstaffie’s speech, she quoted Styal’s own figures.

“Eighty percent of the prisoners in this prison are serving short custodial sentences for non-violent non-sexual non-predatory offences such as security fraud, shoplifting and for not paying the TV licence.

Men’s offending on the other hand- whether they identify as women or not- is infinitely more serious.”

“If these policies remain unchallenged,” Rebekah told listeners, “the women’s estate will be overburdened with opportunistic men demanding transfers, using the untouchable veneer of self-ID.” You can hear Belstaffie’s speech here and Rebekah’s speech here.

26th February – Low Newton

A small group gathered outside Low Newton Prison on 26th February. Low Newton is a closed prison and YOI in County Durnham. It was originally a mixed remand prison and housed male young offenders until as recently as 1998, since when it has been women-only. Or so Wikipedia tells us.

Here is a message from Molly, a dog who attended the protest.

“Hello, I’m Molly, This is me with my adult human. She is a female, like me, and this picture was taken at a protest I took her to. Can you imagine why we were there? Well, you see, humans build great big kennels called prisons, Then they put naughty humans inside. We went to this big kennel. It is supposed to be for naughty females. But sometimes naughty males can get into the female kennel. We think this is risky, especially as, like me, many of the women in prison have been badly treated in the past. We decided to hold a silent protest.

So the humans held up notices saying “Keep Prisons Single Sex” while I looked determined and serious. We stayed for half an hour. Then it was time for walks and treats and other nice things. We want adult human females to have their own kennels, not to have to share lavatories and showers, even cells, with adult human males who could harm them. That’s just wrong. Barking mad, don’t you think?

So I say ‘Keep Prisons Single Sex’.”

26th February – Downview

HMP Downview is near Sutton on the outskirts of London. The main building opened as a men’s prison in 1989 and was originally the nurses’ home for nearby Banstead hospital.  It became a women’s prison in 2001, closing in 2013 and reopening again in 2016, with the closure of Holloway.

In March 2019, the MOJ announced a new plan – E wing within the prison would be used solely to house trans-identified men. Fair Play for Women published an interesting and informative piece about E Wing, titled, ‘Prison bosses put transgender sex offenders into female prisons because they need “association with other women”.

This does not seem to have worked out so well. The unit is currently believed to be standing empty.

In 2019 a group of us protested the decision to house men in E Wing, so this wasn’t the first time I had visited Downview. You can read about the first protest here.  Once again we were lucky with the weather: the weekend beforehand there had been storms and high winds. Saturday dawned a little chilly but bright.

Downview is certainly not as accessible as the Ministry of Justice, so we didn’t expect to match the numbers who had attended the January protest. Anne & Julia were kind enough to give me, my placard and my big blue banner a lift out to Sutton, which I hugely appreciated as I am not really ‘on their way’ at all.

As the prison came into view we could see we weren’t the first to arrive. Eventually there were about forty of us gathered on the green by the visitors’ centre and we moved over to the gates where the speeches took place.

Julia Long and Anne Ruzlyo spoke, and Vikki and Aja read out the words of female prisoners. Later Vikki told me:

“Listening to, and reading, the former female offender statements was really hard. I was aware that after the protest I could choose where I went and what I did. Women in prison don’t have this choice. Women in prison are already highly traumatised: that they are forced to share any space with male offenders is appalling. It’s clear the feelings of men are being prioritised over the safety, dignity and privacy of women. It has to stop.”

During the speeches a car pulled up and out jumped Jen Critical, the amazing Terven Priestess, who had come from the distant Northlands to lead us in some singing.

It was very moving listening to women singing, especially in this context. I had thought it might feel a bit awkward but I was totally wrong: it felt quite raw and emotional.  We later heard that some of the women inside could hear us. We sang ‘You’ve got a Friend’, ‘Something Inside So Strong’, ‘I am Woman, Hear Me Roar’, ‘Stand by Me’ and ‘Bella Ciao’.

Then Jen sang a couple of her own songs, which are pretty damn amazing. You can hear my favourite, ‘T.E.R.F.’ here and check out her ‘Terven Priestess’ YouTube channel.

6th March – Low Newton

A second protest took place outside Low Newton prison  on March 6th. It was a small and silent protest, a solemn occassion.

“Today, women worldwide have been protesting about men being put in prison with vulnerable women. Members of @NorthernWomens1 took part in a silent protest at Low Newton in Durham as part of the campaign.”

Liz Panton, who attended the protest, told me:

We are sick of this nonsense! We have got women in prison for petty crimes who don’t need to be there – who is looking after their children? Women in prison with very serious mental health problems who are supposed to be in hospital for their own safety – but there are no beds, so they get put in prison. Everyone has been telling the government that they are already sending far too many women to prison, women who should be serving community sentences or who haven’t even committed a crime and should be in a psychiatric hospital for their own safety.  Women who have been in prison with these so-called transwomen have told us how it just takes one of them to frighten them all into silence. This is obscene and it has to stop.”

12th March – New Hall

The idea that males are entitled to use female only spaces if they are vulnerable to attacks by other males is effectively using women as human shields. Females are put at risk to make males safer. Instead prisons need to prevent violence within the male estate. tweeted Helen Steel, on the day a group of protestors gathered outside New Hall prison in Yorkshire.

New Hall prison is where Karen White spent his 3 month foray into the female estate. White is back in the male estate, and we are assured that such a case could not happen again. But how much are these assurances worth? When newspapers report male crimes as having been committed by women; when police forces report male crimes as having been committed by women, when rapists and paedophiles are referred to as ‘she’ and the Ministry of Justice decides that it’s ok for women to “suffer fear and acute anxiety” as long as men’s feelings are validated- forgive us if we aren’t sitting too comfortably. And that’s just those of us on the outside.

I can’t understand how anyone can say that imprisoning males in women’s prisons is right.” – female prisoner

This has become part of a broader political issue for many of us. The invasion of women’s spaces by males is taking place in our sports, changing rooms, leisure centres and a hundred other areas of life. No sooner have we begun to take our single-sex spaces for granted than they are being infiltrated as we watch in disbelief. But most of us are at least afforded the luxury of walking away. Women in prison cannot do that. And women in prison do not want trans-identified males in their spaces. This is clear even in the reports of those who believe they belong there.

Dalton Harrison, a trans-identified female (transman) who did time in New Hall, believes that trans-identified men should be placed in the female estate, but acknowledges that many of the other women felt differently.

“When the first rumours circulated that trans women were entering the prison, there was uproar…  women were shouting and saying it was wrong; that trans women only come over to our prison because they wanted to rape women or get an easy ride inside… others were expressing concern and often anger that they had been abused and didn’t want to have ‘men’ in prison with them and didn’t see them as women… when (the men who had been transfered) first went to the dining hall and sat together some women shouted: ‘Frankland’ (the male estate next door)”

So what next?

As it becomes easier to get a GRC, and as organisations twist and redefine the meaning of ‘gender reassignment’ under the Equality Act – have a look at what the parole board has done here if you need further convincing- women and our allies have every reason to be concerned.

Are our prisons just another glorious playroom for men who wish to fantasise about being women? Is their validation really more important than the safety and well-being of some of the most vulnerable women in the country?

Because words mean nothing when men can say they are women. And women’s rights mean nothing when men can say they are women.

Special thanks to Kate Coleman who answered my endless questions at all hours of the day and night while I was researching this.

Posted in Activism, Event Reviews, Uncategorized, Women's Rights | 1 Comment