ACCORDING to the Mail on Sunday, former Tory Cabinet Minister Rory Stewart has revealed that female prisoner officers have been raped by men housed in women’s prisons. These men were placed in the women’s prisons because they identify as female.
It had previously been reported that female prisoners and officershad been sexually assaulted by male ‘trans’ prisoners, but this was the first reference to rape. Perhaps Stewart has mis-spoken, mis-remembered, or been misquoted. I hope he or the Mail on Sunday will clarify. I have put in a Freedom of Information request to try to find out more.
According to the Mail on Sunday, ‘the Ministry of Justice recently said policies are in place to manage the risks that might be posed by male-bodied prisoners who say they are trans women’. Well might the Ministry wish to reassure us, following the debacle whereby rapist, paedophile, and biological and legal male ‘Karen White’ was housed in a women’s prison and proceeded to sexually assault women.
I decided to take a look at the ministry’s policy to see what it had learned since the White incident. Last updated this January, and titled ‘Care and Management entitled of Individuals who are Transgender’, you can read the whole thing here.
The policy ‘provides staff with clear direction in the support and safe management of transgender individuals in our care, including managing risks both to and from transgender individuals, and enabling risk to be managed when an individual is placed into a prison which is different from that of their legal gender or where a Gender Recognition Certification (GRC) has been obtained’.
Firstly, I’m concerned that the Ministry of Justice misunderstands science. The document says that biological sex is ‘assigned . . . at birth’. This is incorrect. Sex does not miraculously appear at birth or rely on an observer’s arbitrary decision. Sex is binary, written into our genetic code, and is determined at conception.
Actually, it is an under-statement to say that this movement away from science and into metaphysics is concerning. It is also a sign that the Ministry of Justice is suffering from policy capture. How did this notion of sex being ‘assigned at birth’ make it into a policy document – and why did no review process take it back out?
Secondly, I’m concerned that a document produced by our Ministry of Justicemisrepresents the law. It says: ‘Where individuals have gained legal recognition [of a change in gender], they must be treated in accordance with their legally recognised gender in every respect.’ [My italics] This isn’t so. The Equalities Act explicitly provides for single sex (not gender) services, spaces, roles, and activities when it is a proportionate means to achieving a legitimate aim. This is well documented here.
There is further misrepresentation of the law when the document says: ‘The Gender Recognition Act 2004 section 9 says that when a full Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) is issued to a person, the person’s gender becomes, for all purposes, their acquired gender. This means that transgender women prisoners with GRCs must be treated in the same way as biological women for all purposes. Transgender women with GRCs must be placed in the women’s estate . . . unless there are exceptional circumstances, as would be the case for biological women.’ [My italics] Go to Schedule 23 of the Equalities Act. It specifically provides exemptions to same treatment in respect of shared accommodation and sleeping accommodation. Why no mention of it or consideration of its implications?
Fascinatingly, the Ministry of Justice document does eventually make reference to the Equalities Act [see 4.122, page 27]. But guess what it leaves out? All the exemptions to equal treatment. Not a mention of the exemptions to equal treatment relating to services or occupations or communal accommodation. Forgotten – or ignored?
How can this ignoring of the law have gone through, and got past, a review process? Which senior officials or government ministers are responsible?
Thirdly, many people are concerned about the impact of gender identity ideology on data collection and statistics and the implied impact on research and our knowledge of the world. For example, with the government proposing to create a muddle between sex and gender in the forthcoming census, a group of scientists and statisticians wrote this letter to the Times. An example of this muddle is in the Ministry of Justice document. Section 2.2 attempts to give us information about the number of transgender people in the prisons estate. For example, according to the document ‘there were 42 transgender prisoners in women’s prisons. When asked about the gender they identified as, 22 identified as female, 17 as male, and 3 did not provide a response’. I assume that this means there are 22 biological males in the women’s estate. However, a colleague read it as meaning there are 17 biological males in the women’s estate. We don’t know. And are there three biological males in the women’s estate who are being allowed to not disclose that they are male?
Fourthly, we seem to have ‘compelled speech’ in our prisons estate. If a violent offender declares that he is female, staff will be required to address him as such. The document says: ‘Individuals who are transgender must be allowed to adopt a gender-appropriate or gender neutral name and be addressed by others consistent with the gender with which they identify, or as gender neutral. Staff must make every effort to communicate with individuals in ways that respect their gender identity, using appropriate verbal and written communication and use of pronouns.’ This is how we have ended up with the situation where a paedophile and rapist, legally and biologically male, has become routinely referred to as ‘Karen White’. Is there no one else out there who finds this offensive? Do any of our Conservative MPs find this offensive?
The document contains an implication that a female prison officer might be dealing with a male-bodied prisoner without her knowledge. Specifically it says: ‘All individuals who disclose that they have applied for, or have gained, a GRC must be asked to provide written consent for their gender which was assigned at birth, and/or details of the application process, to be disclosed to/from relevant staff in or on behalf of HMPPS. Consent is entirely voluntary on the part of the individual.’ Where might this lead?
How to sum up? With concern for female prisoners and prison staff. With concern that our government can produce documents that contain pseudo-science. With concern that we are moving in the direction of ‘compelled speech’. With evidence of policy capture and a ‘privileging’ of one particular gender identity narrative that many trans people themselves do not even share. (To be uncomfortable in your sex does not mean that you need to deny sex.) Mostly a concern that our current Conservative government is not properly in control of our civil service and government departments, and that damaging ideologies are being rolled out under their watch.