Lauren Jeska, British champion fell-runner in 2015, had gender reassignment surgery in 2000. She had not provided relevant samples to demonstrate her testosterone levels to the sport’s governing body, so her race results were declared void in September 2015. On 22 March 2016, she drove for two hours to the offices of UK Athletics, and asked to see Ralph Knibbs, head of human resources and welfare. She stabbed him repeatedly, causing a 2cm wound to his neck. Prompt first aid saved his life, but he has permanent partial sight loss.
Amid the unanswered questions- how could her testosterone exceed female levels without testicles? Was she dosing, or just upset at the demand to provide samples?- I fear how the haters will respond. This is trans violence. Jeska is a threat to women in prison and should be in a men’s prison.
She has been jailed for 18 years. Previously, she was in a secure mental hospital. She will be on Restricted status, with the most violent women- the only non-violent offences considered for that status are supply of class A drugs, or offences under the Official Secrets Act. She has been extremely physically fit, but so long after castration does not have the physical strength advantages of testosterone.
The heart of prejudice is judging people by a characteristic we happen to share with an offender. What she did is monstrous- and I am not dangerous, and no other trans woman should be judged for what Lauren Jeska did.
All that said-
I remember a trans woman I represented at the Employment Tribunal. She had had a hyper-manly job, then transitioned, and got a job in a cliché feminine role. She was sacked from that job, and convinced me that the wrong she was accused of could not have happened as the manager found it to happen. So she had not done it. I argued that were she cis, the manager would not have found something impossible to be true. The tribunal did not address that point, but found after three days’ oral evidence, my longest hearing, that a cis woman would have been sacked for the same offence, so there was no discrimination.
She had come in to my office, traumatised. She had prepared a very detailed statement of claim to the tribunal, and I took a long statement, but she would ask to see me then go over and over, with monotonously resentful affect, how badly she had been treated. Once I sat, not writing, not looking at her, as she ruminated in this way; I timed her on the phone, and she spoke without pause for ten minutes.
We suffer huge pressure pretending to be male, and we can suffer trauma after transition.
I am glad Lauren Jeska’s parents appear to be standing by their daughter. In a statement they said the stress and confusion of the dispute with UK Athletics had triggered a mental health crisis. I cannot excuse her, but I have sympathy for her.
Report in The Guardian.