Police forces across Britain are allowing rapists to be recorded as female if they no longer wish to identify with their male birth sex.
Six forces this month disclosed that they have adopted the practice for suspected and convicted rapists who identify as transgender. The revelations came in response to a freedom of information law request by Fair Play for Women, a women’s rights group.
“We will accept the details that an individual provides us and treat them according[ly],” said South Yorkshire police, who were among the six.
An additional five forces, including British Transport Police, did not directly answer a question about how they deal with rapists but said they record gender in keeping with a person’s wishes.
“A female may be under investigation for rape or have a conviction for rape that was committed when they had male genitalia,” the head of one of the forces, Kent Detective Superintendent Coretta Hine, told The Sunday Times. “Kent police currently manages three offenders with convictions for rape who now self-define as female.”
Fair Play Director Nicola Williams said that by accepting rapists’ stated gender identity, British police are disrespecting female rape victims.
“You can’t get much more of a male crime than rape,” she told The Times. “It would be highly offensive to a woman who was raped to have it written down that her attacker was a female when clearly that was a male with a penis.”
“Sexual crimes are overwhelmingly committed by males,” she added.
Britain legally defines rape as penetration with a penis without consent.
According to The Times, some police forces said that they note if someone identifies as transgender. But this information is not sent to the U.K. Home Office as part of required annual data reporting. Transgender status is stated only if the person is a victim of transgender hate crime.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council said there is “no evidence” that accepting self-reports of gender identity is impacting investigations of national crime statistics “because of the low numbers involved.
“How gender is recorded is a matter for each individual force,” the national police body said. “However, as a general rule we will accept the details that an individual provides us and treat them accordingly.”