‘Common Sense’: UK Bars Most Men from Women’s Prisons
In another international setback for the LGBTQ agenda, the British government has banned nearly all men who identify as women from being jailed inside women’s prisons — implicitly condemning the unisex prison policy advocated by President Joe Biden.
Under the new UK government policy unveiled on Monday, no one convicted of a future crime who has intact male genitalia will be sent to a female prison estate. Neither will any male convicted of sexual crimes or such violent offenses as murder, attempted murder, assault, or crimes harming children — even if the offender has a government-issued Gender Recognition Certificate.
“Safety has to come first in our prisons, and this new policy sets out a clear, common-sense approach to the housing of transgender prisoners,” said Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, a member of the ruling Conservative Party. “With these sensible new measures in place, transgender offenders who have committed sexual or violent crimes or retain male genitalia will not serve their sentence in a women’s prison, unless explicitly approved at the highest level.”
The jailhouse safety measures seem self-evident to leaders in both leading political parties. “Clearly, someone born a male, a man, who is a predator or who is violent toward women … should not be in a women’s prison,” Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy, a member of the Labour Party, told Sky News Monday.
The new rules allow for exceptions to be made “in the most exceptional cases,” with the express approval of ministers, as well as for men already incarcerated in women’s prison estates but judged to be “low-risk” of harming women. “Transgender women prisoners who cannot be safely housed in a men’s prison can be imprisoned in a specialist unit,” the policy states.
“We want to have a liberal, sensitive, tolerant approach to the LGBT community,” Raab told Sky News host Sophie Ridge on Sunday.
Raab claimed his new policy had nothing to do with a swirling storm of controversy about transgender issues that have seized UK government officials for months and contributed to the resignation of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier this month.
The latest regulations come as a woman came forward to say she had been molested by convicted rapist Stephen Wood, who now identifies as a woman named Karen White, while the two were in the same women’s prison. Wood raped two women before incarceration and then raped at least two additional women inside a female prison in September-October 2017. A court sentenced Wood to life in prison the following year.
Laura Goldsmith, who waived her right to anonymity, said she became Wood’s third prison victim when Wood fondled her against her will in the exercise yard at Her Majesty’s Prison New Hall.
“I told [Wood] I was gay and [he] said ‘Oh, well, we’ll see about that. I can make you not want women anymore,’” said Goldsmith. Wood “was speaking to me like a man, not a transgender woman.”
“There is no doubt that some men are using the transgender issue to get themselves inside women’s prisons. They are either doing it because they are scared of men’s prisons or because it gives them the opportunity to satisfy their perversions,” the victim, now 38, told the Daily Mail. She said she did not report the abuse while in prison to avoid developing a reputation as a snitch. “It also makes you wonder how many other victims have not come forward.”
Male sex offenders bound for women’s prisons proved a contributing factor in Sturgeon stepping down from her post in Holyrood. Sturgeon championed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which would have allowed 16-year-old children to change the sex listed on their legal documents without any medical diagnosis. It also allowed sexual offenders to change their legal gender classification, following a police risk assessment.
The bill, later blocked by the UK government based in Westminster, coincided with news accounts that the Scottish government had housed a convicted double rapist named Adam Graham, who now identifies as a woman named Isla Bryson, in a women’s prison. (“Isla Bryson identifies as innocent, and that’s good enough for me,” quipped the satirist Andrew Doyle under the name Titania McGrath.) A poll found 53% of Scottish residents support Westminster’s decision to block the GRR.
The rape, molestation, or sexual exploitation of female prisoners by men who purportedly identify as women is a transatlantic concern. Last April, a male prisoner named Demetrius Minor, who now identifies as a woman named “Demi,” impregnated two women in New Jersey’s Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. In February 2021, the male prisoner Ramel “Diamond” Blount raped a woman in a Riker’s Island shower.
Sexual predation does not exhaust the threats incarcerated males pose to female inmates. Even after years of cross-sex hormone injections, men who identify as women have more muscle mass and greater grip strength than women, according to a 2019 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine — a fact Goldsmith encountered during her prison interactions with Wood. “When [Wood] threw [his] arm around me, it was more of a headlock. I could feel the strength behind [him], and it was scary,” said Goldsmith.
“We needed to pay more attention to the concerns being raised, particularly by women, about their space,” former Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman, a member of Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP), told the BBC. But the costs for doing so are often high. Another member of Sturgeon’s party, Joanna Cherry, said LGBTQ activists had subjected her to an enduring “campaign of abuse” over her defense of women’s rights.
The prison policy reversal leaves President Biden, who advocates housing men in women’s prisons, as a global outlier. As a candidate, Biden said, “In prison, the determination should be that your sexual identity should be defined by what you say it is, not what, in fact, the prison says it is.” The so-called Equality Act, which Biden supports, would codify men’s access to female prisoners into law.
The UK’s new incarceration guidelines represent one of several measures the British government has taken to roll back policies based on radical transgender ideology. Last July, the government announced the closure of the lone pediatric gender transition facility in England and Wales: the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London. An independent review commissioned by the NHS found that doctors felt “pressure to adopt an unquestioning affirmative approach” to gender transitions, and once a patient entered the transgender pipeline, care for their other health conditions — including mental health issues — tended to get “overlooked.” While GIDS winds down its business, unable to access most of the 7,500 children on its waiting list, two new facilities appear ready to open in its place: one in London and one in northwestern England, the BBC reported this month.
In the U.S., too, polls show Americans turning against the transgender political agenda. “Americans are 17 percentage points more likely to favor” laws requiring the two sexes to use separate restrooms “today than they were in 2016,” according to the left-leaning Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). “In fact, 2022 saw the sharpest uptick of strong support for requiring transgender people to use bathrooms based on their” sex, PRRI noted last year.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.