Saturday, April 1, 2023

Yvonne Van Dongen: When Transwomen Aren’t Women

In November last year a violent male was sent to Auckland Women’s Prison.

Six months earlier Matthew Richard Nelson had stormed through the back of an Indian restaurant in Hamilton and stabbed three people before smashing the shop’s front window. One of those stabbed was his ex-partner, a woman. The other two victims were men.

He was found guilty of two counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and one of intentional damage. Nelson was also sentenced on charges of assaulting a person in a family relationship, assaulting police, assault, two of resisting police, and failing to appear on court bail from incidents prior to the stabbing. Nelson was sentenced to nine years and three months and given a minimum term of imprisonment of 60 per cent.

The judge could find few mitigating circumstances and noted that Nelson appeared to show little, if any, genuine remorse but did express a willingness to rehabilitate. That gave him a five per cent discount but earlier offending, including while on bail, resulted in a 2.5 per cent uplift.

The judge and the victims spoke about the long shadow the offending had cast over them and their families. The woman sustained severe injuries including a laceration to the left side of her face and a stab wound to her upper left back which, as a result, punctured her right lung causing it to collapse and blood to flow into her chest cavity.

Prior to the stabbing Nelson had been transitioning to become a transwoman. At the time of sentencing he called himself Pandora Electra and was moved from Spring Hill Prison to Auckland Women’s Prison where his counsel said she felt safer.

Other than a press release condemning the decision by the New Conservatives, this decision occurred without comment in New Zealand. Here, the only crime that would prevent a transgender prisoner from being housed with the gender they identify with is one of sexual violence. Violence, even violence against women, is not a mitigating circumstance.

However in the United Kingdom the issue of violent male offenders identifying as women and being housed with women in prison has prompted not only a furore, but a rule change preventing violent males, no matter how they identify, being held in a mainstream women’s prison. It was also one reason leading to the resignation of the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.

Sturgeon supported double rapist Isla Bryson being moved from a women’s prison to a men’s prison, a decision which made it difficult for her to support the contention that transwomen are women. When asked if there were any circumstances where women born as women would be housed in the male estate, Sturgeon said she didn’t think there was.

Her response exposed the fundamental incoherence of the trans activist movement which insists transwomen are women. That is, there are occasions when transwomen will be regarded as men and occasions when they may be regarded as women. Meanwhile transmen (biological women) will always be judged as women in this context.

New Zealand Corrections reports that there are three transwomen in women’s prisons, two on remand accused of offences relating to burglary and property damage and one a sentenced prisoner serving a sentence for assault. Pandora Electra is no longer in a women’s prison though Corrections would not say when and why Electra had been moved..

Between 1 July 2020 and 28 February 2023 a transwoman was recorded as the perpetrator in two non-serious incidents in women's prisons and five no injury assaults and two non-serious assaults in men’s prisons.

In total there are 31 transwomen in men’s prisons and four transmen in women’s prisons. Across sentenced and remand prisoners there are a total of 38 transgender people. No transmen are housed in men’s prisons.

As well, Scottish plans to introduce gender law reform to make it easier for people to obtain a document changing legal sex on birth certificates was blocked by the UK government.

But in New Zealand gender activists have largely won this battle. The 2021 changes to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationship Registration Bill allowing self-identification on birth certificates without proof of medical treatment or court approval has passed although further improvements to the legislation are currently being considered.

Speak Up For Women (SUFW) campaigned to add a clause (79 (2)) that would allow for women only services and sex segregated spaces on the basis of biological sex, not gender identity. SUFW say this means that there is no legal requirement for organisations to take birth certificates solely into account when considering single sex spaces. However, due to existing regulations, this does not currently apply to Corrections. Chief Custodial Officer, Neil Beales, reports that Corrections is working towards altering this so that other factors besides the birth certificate can be taken into account when determining accommodation in a men’s or women’s prison.

Corrections developed their policy on trans prisoners in consultation with the Human Rights Commission, Crown Law, the Office of the Ombudsman, Pride Committees (Auckland and Wellington), and Unions. Their advice clearly urged them to adopt gender ideology, an ideology lacking scientific backing, since the guidelines use terms such as “gender assigned at birth.” Assigned gender conflates the words sex and gender. It suggests gender (sex) identity is plucked out of the air and may be incorrect when scientists agree gender (or more accurately sex) is observed at birth.

As for how transgender crimes are reported, the police report that there is no way of determining whether the offender or victim is transgender since there are only two categories - male and female. Thus it would be possible for a transwoman’s crime to be counted as a female crime.

SUFW believes no male prisoners should be housed in women’s prisons including those jailed for non-violent offences. But, in the the UK, we should immediately change the rules to prevent men guilty of violence being placed in women’s prisons, no matter how they identify.

Yvonne van Dongen is a journalist, travel writer, playwright and non-fiction author. This article was originally published by and is published here with kind permission.


Peter Ness said...

I’ve just read about a school in Melbourne that is helping children who self identify as cats! Go figure.
They’re called furries.
So what happens if a furrie grows up into an adult and commits a violent crime?
Do they get sent to a Cattery 😂
This whole obsession with trans issues and self identifying as something else is absurd.
Gotta go , my litter tray needs changing

CXH said...

So a transman is still considered a woman if they need to go to prison, but a transwoman is considered to still be a woman.

Just shows how idiotic the whole thing has become. People tie themselves in knots to try and justify their stupidity. A typical example being the Iranian Green MP. She demands we support women demanding rights in Iran, yet tramples on the rights of women in New Zealand. The twisted logic required would cause a normal person to pause and reconsider their thought process.

Anonymous said...

I also read about parents bringing up their kids as theybies instead of babies, where the kids are not told if they are a boy or a girl and are left to decide for themselves which of th 70 or so different genders they will assume. This is child abuse surely. Our society has become sick. I also saw a video of a trans activist saying that if a cis man does not want to date them or sleep with them, , then the cis man must be a transphobe. This is crazy.