“Allowing males to self-identify as women and letting them into women’s spaces is dangerous.”
High-risk transgender women inmates have reportedly been moved back to men’s prisons in the United Kingdom.
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The move is part of a shift in government policy that will see many trans inmates, including sex offenders, denied continued access to women’s jails, The Sunday Times reported this week.
According to Justice Minister Ed Argar, the government was “revising” guidelines that said the “great majority” of trans prisoners should be allowed to “experience the system in the gender in which they identify.” Options now being considered include “clustering” trans prisoners in special wings or sections of wings.
The change came after Karen White, a convicted sex offender who retains her male genitalia, was allowed into New Hall women’s prison near Wakefield, where she sexually assaulted two female prisoners. Officials predicted a spike in trans or -non-binary inmates to 1,000, up from 139 last year. About 4,000 biological women are locked up under the UK Prison Service.
“We take the Karen White case very seriously,” Argar said. “New guidelines will be published shortly to ensure that [the policy] continues to strike the right balance between ensuring that all female prisoners are kept safe [and] that transgender prisoners have their rights respected.”
The Justice Ministry reported that it had already “made the difficult decision to move a small number of transgender women back into the male estate.”
Opponents of proposed changes to the UK Gender Recognition Act which would let anyone legally switch their gender without getting surgery hailed the new prison policy as an affirmation of their position.
Nicola Williams, of Fair Play for Women, said: “It’s an admission that allowing males to self-identify as women and letting them into women’s spaces is dangerous.”
British society has been starkly divided over the planned Gender Recognition Act reforms. Police across England have in numerous instances taken action against critics of granting greater recognition to transgender identity. In December, Hertfortshire Police arrested a woman after she “misgendered” and “deadnamed” a transgender activist on Twitter.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Twitter in November banned those same practices – which amount to refusing to use a transgender person’s preferred pronouns or name, respectively – as newly empowered Democrats in Congress have promised to advance legislation on behalf of trans people.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York announced last week that she will promote legislation to protect trans soldiers, as well as bring a trans Navy lieutenant commander to the State of the Union address. She said the bill was a response to President Donald Trump’s “cruel” ban on trans service members, which was revived last month by the Supreme Court.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged to use her new House majority to advance the Equality Act, a bill that would codify protections against LGBT discrimination, including special guarantees for trans people to be regarded in federal spaces according to their self-identified gender rather than their biological sex.
However, not everyone has gotten on board. A number of “trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” as they are derogatorily called on the left, last week sought to block the Equality Act by aligning with conservatives and in one case ambushing a transgender woman who was advocating for the bill on Capitol Hill.
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