Trans women and sex offending

Are trans women more likely to be sex offenders than cis women?

The first item on the menu of anti-trans campaigning site “fair play for women” is Prisons, and it starts by saying male prisoners can ask to transfer to a woman’s prison. “All they need to do is self-identify as a woman”- without a gender recognition certificate or a psychiatric diagnosis. This is true. They can ask. But their request will not usually be granted. There are rules. The anti-trans site says, breathlessly, many are housed in sex offender institutions. “These are the prisoners who could become eligible for transfer to women’s prisons under a regime of sex self-ID.”

“Fair play for women” seeks to conflate self-ID, which is allowed under British law already, with the human right of prisoners to be housed according to our gender identity, which is constrained. They try to create a myth that self-ID is a new proposal, and a threat. This is untrue.

Trans woman prisoners may be housed in women’s prisons if they produce evidence of transition before charge. In March 2019, there were 163 transgender prisoners. 81 had been convicted of one or more sexual offences. There were no details of whether those prisoners were currently serving sentences for sexual offences. 129 were in men’s prisons, of whom 74 had been convicted of a sexual offence. There were just 34 trans women in women’s prisons.

So it is clear that though they are perfectly entitled to ask to be housed in women’s prisons, offenders will usually be refused.

Anti-trans campaigning site Women are Human produced “research” comparing the number of trans sex offenders in prison with the number of female sex offenders. 81 trans offenders, 126 female offenders, though there are far more cis women than trans people. They then argued that this showed a greater propensity to offend by trans women than cis women, so trans women are dangerous and should not be in women’s prisons.

Very few sexual offences are prosecuted. Most victims do not report crimes. In 2017 there were around a million sexual offences in England and Wales, but only 6960 offenders were found guilty of sexual offences.

Trans women may be more likely to be prosecuted for a sexual offence. A 17 year old trans woman fellates a 15 year old boy. His mates tell him she’s trans, and suddenly he’s angry. His parents go to the police. A cis woman in the same circumstances would be most unlikely to be prosecuted.

The site says trans women are 35-90 times more likely to commit sexual offences than cis women, based on the proportion of the population in prison convicted of sexual offences. However, this does not mention that most of these sex offenders are in men’s prisons.

In freedom, sexual predators do not pretend to be trans to access women’s spaces. That is a myth. They just push the door open. However in prison prisoners may have motivation to claim to be trans, and particularly sex offenders, already the lowest of the low in the prisoner hierarchy. They get to wear their own clothes. They might even make the claim to cause disruption.

So the site’s conclusion does not follow. They argue that trans women are more likely to be sexual offenders, therefore trans women should not be housed in women’s prisons. But they ignore the fact that most of these sex offenders may not be trans women at all.

And, I am not a sex offender. If I were imprisoned for environmental campaigning (so far I have barely risked arrest) I should be imprisoned as a woman, because that is what I am. And the law agrees.

Because sex offenders might lie that they are trans women, trans women in prison might not be believed. Trans women die in men’s prison.

4 thoughts on “Trans women and sex offending

  1. IMO the use of fear is a classic approach to motivate people into getting what you want. That may well be new rules that allow discrimination and to then use those new rules to add further exclusion to other areas.

    Like a lot of fear based hacks, pausing to look beyond the emotion and check the evidence usually brings out the truth of the situation… In this case, trans women are not the threat.

    You may argue that platforming such claims rather than disputing or challenging them, can lead to more discrimination. A hostile environment isn’t just dangerous to your mental health, in severe cases it can put you at risk of being attacked. I think it’s telling we have the Transgender Day of Remembrance where we remember who we’ve lost to violence.

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    • Yes. These two sites are obsessed by criminals. I say a site listing all the Scots in English prisons for murder or sexual offences would not make Scots in general look bad. So an anti-trans campaigner replied to me on facebook, “are there statistics showing that, say, 90% of violent criminals in England are of Scottish origin? If not, your comparison doesn’t make sense”. That shows their level of statistical understanding. It does not stop them citing statistics, though.

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      • Criminals are a good target* for fear stories. Firstly, they are perceived as a threat and as many people give them little sympathy, IMO, it’s easy to use them to reduce rights. Then you’ve got the whole ‘punish them’ mentality.

        ( * Good is not the right word in that I don’t think it’s okay to tar everyone who’s committed a crime with the same brush. If we want people to be rehabilitated, maybe, just maybe, demonising them isn’t the right way to go. )

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