Men with criminal histories of violence and aggression, including sexual violence, are being placed in women’s prisons. The mere presence of these men is anxiety provoking for female inmates – they live in fear, worried for the safety of themselves or in some instances their children (if their kids are with them, as is allowed in some jurisdictions). Female inmates are acutely aware they are locked up with violent men from whom they cannot escape. They cannot “just leave” the situation – they are in prison so there is no escape from this high risk situation – they can’t remove themselves from it.
The constant sense of always having to be wary of these males, always on guard, takes an emotional toll. One must understand how this fits in with the context of their lives: A high percentage of female inmates have personal histories of trauma from sexual abuse and physical abuse, in childhood and within domestic relationships. The presence of these violent males and the constant sense of potential danger from which they cannot escape re-traumatizes many of these women and is deeply unhealthy for their mental health and well-being.
There are now documented cases in the United Kingdom, USA and Canada of female prisoners being physically assaulted, sexually assaulted (raped) and sexually harassed by the biological males incarcerated with them. Examples of sexual harassment by trans-identified males are: sexualized comments, sexual advances, stealing female inmates’ underwear from the laundry, exposing themselves, voyeurism, listening at the bathroom door to the women urinating or attending to feminine hygiene, and the males commenting and inquiring to the women about their periods. Female prisoners are being harmed. For vulnerable women with histories of mental health and addiction, these assaults and privacy violations are egregious indeed.
But is it really true that it is just too dangerous to put trans-identified males in men’s prisons?
The answer is no. While it may be true that trans-identified males get victimized more than non-transgender inmates, they are no more vulnerable than gay men and we have never placed gay men into women’s prisons just because they are gay.
There are also other reasons for transgender inmates to be victimized that has nothing to do with their trans-identities. For instance, if a trans-identified male happens to be a sexual offender then yes, it is likely he will be harassed in prison. Prison subculture has a very distinct hierarchy and sexual offenders are at the very bottom it. Sexual offenders are despised by other inmates. So a transgender inmate who is also a sexual offender will be harassed and threatened because he is a sexual offender, NOT because he is transgender.
It is also realistic to expect that biological male inmates may suddenly “identify as women”and seek transfer to women’s prisons for other self-serving reasons such as: 1) They see it as a way to do “easier time”; 2) They hope to be viewed as lower risk by the Parole Board; 3) Heterosexual males get immediate access to sexual partners; 4) Sex offenders seek access to their victim pool; and 5) Sex offenders seek refuge in the women’s prison to escape harassment and “muscling” from other men.
In any case, the reality is that trans-identified males have a male physique – they are able to defend themselves against other males to a far greater degree than females can defend themselves against males. Yet women are essentially being used as shields to protect trans-identified males.
It is not the job of women to provide the solution to male-on-male violence.
There are alternatives such as placing transgender inmates in a separate unit or their own facilities. These units can house transgender inmates in a way that ensures their safety and dignity, and meets their unique needs. For instance, by providing single cells, their own shower area, access to feminine clothing and make-up, transgender health care, and counselling or peer support groups. If necessary, build a fully separate facility that has multi-level security so that transgender inmates can serve out their full sentence in the same facility and still cascade to lower security levels. The same principle should apply to half-way houses in the community. Organizations that run half-way houses can designate one house for trans-inmates separate from biological women but providing the same level of service.
A lot of people believe that equality requires that trans-identified males must be allowed into women’s prisons to share space with women. Equality does not require that. Equality requires providing the same LEVEL of service, not the same service. If the facilities are just as good, there are enough beds to meet the need, the staff is properly trained and able to provide the same level of attention and safety, then it can be said that equality has been achieved. Equality does not mean sameness.
Transgender inmates do have some unique needs that should be considered and they have a right to be safe, but not at the expense of women’s safety.
It should be noted that trans-activists typically reject the idea of separate units or facilities for trans-inmates, stating that it may cause more stigma and discrimination. This vague complaint has no validity or basis in reality, but even if it did, it doesn’t supersede the safety of females. The truth is that trans-identified males don’t want their own units or facilities because that doesn’t validate them as “women” – it’s not safety they are after but validation. It is not the job of women to validate trans-identified males at women’s own expense.
Currently, the approach to making things safer for transgender inmates is to make things more dangerous for women. This is unacceptable. Prison officials are obligated to ensure the safety of ALL inmates, including transgender inmates but also including women. Trans-identified males should be housed safely in men’s prisons or in their own facilities. The safety and dignity of transgender inmates can be upheld, all while ensuring the safety and dignity of female inmates.
The following video demonstrates the sort of criminals being incarcerated with women. It should be noted that their crimes are also being recorded as women’s crime, which distorts statistics and misleads the public.