Counting Dead Trans People

No, Angela Crawley, in the UK, it’s not the same and it’s not a greater risk

In the Women and Equalities Select Committee on reform of the Gender Recognition Act on 21 April 2021, Angela Crawley, Scottish National Party MP for Lanark and Hamilton East and the SNP Shadow Attorney General asked

” Would you agree, and I think we can all agree on the prevalence of male violence, and the instance of how often this occurs and often it is a male perpetrator against a female individual, would you agree that individuals who perhaps, perhaps a trans female has transitioned*, they are also at equally and perhaps greater risk of the same violence and the same issues that you’ve expressed around patriarchy. Would it be possible for a women’s refuge to have a policy that is both inclusive provides that safety that provides those single sex spaces built also is able to provide a service that recognises that individuals who are transgender may also be the victims of the very same violence and they might also need protection from those very similar services that we’re discussing.”

(*It’s anyone’s guess who she means here? A trans female who has transitioned surely means female to ‘transman’, but I think she is so determined not to use words referring to maleness for ‘transwomen’ that she means a male who has so-called transitioned to ‘transwoman.’)

Firstly, let’s get this out of the way, you cannot be both single sex and trans inclusive, unless you mean women and ‘transmen’ together or men with ‘transwomen’. If you have transwomen in a women’s refuge it is not single sex. It cannot be.

Angela Crawley seemed to be trying to say that trans people are perhaps more at risk from the same men’s violence as women are.  This isn’t true with regards to fatal violence. Men’s fatal violence against males who identify as transgender does not follow the same pattern as men’s fatal violence against women.

As far as I know, nine males who fall under the trans umbrella have been killed in the UK since 2009. I don’t know which of them would have described themselves as cross-dressers, transsexuals, transwomen, trans women, or even say that they are women but using Stonewall’s concept of the trans umbrella, there are nine. There have been over 1,800 women killed by men in the UK in the same time.  These 9 people are

  1. Andrea Waddel, 29, killed by a punter (sex buyer), Neil McMillan, in Brighton in October 2009
  2. Destiny Lauren, 29, killed by a punter (sex buyer) Leon Fyle, in London in November 2009
  3. David/Sonia Burgess, 63, killed by Senthooran (Nina) Kanagasingham, a trans friend/associate (male who identified as trans at the time), in London in October 2010
  4. Lionel/Suzie Morl, 49, referred to in the press as a transvestite, who was killed by a couple with drug problems and who appear to have been exploiting him:  David Hardman, 51, and Tracey Hurrell,  32, in Manchester in July or August 2011. Note the age difference between this couple, which is often (not always) an indicator of an abusive relationship
  5. Chrissie Azzopardi, 22, who was killed by a neighbour, Romy Maynard, possibly over drug debts, in London in April 2012
  6. Vanessa Santillan, 33, who was killed by husband Joaquin Hernandez in London in March 2015
  7. William Lound, 30, a gay man who occasionally wore clothes that have been described as women’s clothes, was killed by Lee Arnold. Arnold killed Lound after the two had had sex, in Salford in August 2016. The murder of William Lound has been described both as a homophobic murder and an anti-trans one
  8. Naomi Hersi, 36, who was killed by punter (sex buyer) Jesse McDonald after a drugs and sex hook-up in London in March 2018
  9. Amy Griffiths, 51, was killed by Martin Saberi, in Worcestershire in January 2019. The two have been described as friends.

None of those above were killed in Scotland, where Angela Crawley is an MP. None. Since 2009, at least 129 women have been killed by men in Scotland. 17 women have been killed by men in Scotland since the last known murder of a trans person in the UK. Why can’t you see or why do you turn your back on the violence done to women by men, Angela?

We know from the Femicide Census that 62% of women who were killed by men between 2009 and 2018 were killed by a current or former partner.  In the year ending March 2020, the Office for National Statistics says that 46% of adult females and 7% of males were killed in domestic homicides. The ONS also said that 29% of female homicide victims recorded no suspect had been charged for the offence at the time of analysis. This will decrease as investigations proceed and the percentage of cases where a woman’s current or former partner is identified as being responsible for her death is likely to increase.  The proportion of males killed by current or former partners is consistent with previous years. 8% of male homicide victims were killed by a partner in the year ending March 2019, 1% in the year ending March 2018 and 3% in the year ending March 2017. Note also that males are much more likely to be killed by a same sex partner, fatal violence is very rare in lesbian relationships.

Given the number of trans people killed in the UK, annual trends in the composition of their relationships with their killer isn’t possible. There have been nine over eleven years and none since Amy Griffiths in 2019. Only one was killed by their partner.  Most women’s refuges work exclusively with women who are fleeing partners, ex-partners and in some cases, family members. That doesn’t mean other people don’t need places of safety or support but it does mean that their experiences are different and their needs are too. Women in refuges benefit from being able to place what was done to them in the context of the abuse that other women have been subjected to by men they loved. Sometimes it is through seeing that another woman was not to blame for what was done to her that they are able to begin to stop blaming themselves. Sharing with and listening to other women is a huge part of healing and moving on. Women don’t enter refuges for fun. For most there is no other choice and many are in fear of their life. The number of men who kill or attempt to kill their female partners shows that women’s fears are well grounded. I’ve written in other places about the importance of single-sex spaces for women who have been subjected to men’s violence, for example here, about the necessity of trauma informed services for women being single sex and here, more generally in a speech I delivered in Scottish Parliament in January 2020.

Looking beyond fatal violence and at childhood sexual abuse, prevalence is not equal or greater for males who identify as transgender than it is for females. We know that both girls and boys can be subjected to child sexual abuse and that grooming of younger gay males by older men is an established form of abuse normalised by some men. Prevalence studies for England and Wales suggests that approximately 15% of girls/young women and 5% boys/young men are subjected to some form of sexual abuse before they are 16 years old and that the majority of perpetrators – prevalence studies always indicate over 90% – are male.[1] For women and girls, single sex space to address what has been done to them is vital. For males, who are far more likely to have been abused by someone of the same sex, the preferred or most beneficial sex of their therapist, counsellor, support worker or fellow therapeutic group members can be less clear. Sometimes but not always depending on the sex of their abuser, they may or may not have a preference for or therapeutic issues with the sex of who supports them.[2] The needs of these men should be addressed but this necessary provision should not affect the needs of the majority of female victim-survivors and provision of single sex services to meet their needs; neither should the support and therapeutic needs of males survivors of childhood sexual violence and abuse who come to identify as transgender.

It should not be seen as, and it is not, an indication of disrespect to Andrea Waddel, Destiny Lauren, Sonia Burgess, Suzie Morl, Chrissie Azzopardi, Vanessa Santilan, William Lound, Naomi Hersi and Amy Griffiths to say that with regards to intimate partner homicide, the pattern of their relationships with the person who killed them is far closer to that of male-on-male fatal violence than that of men’s lethal violence against women. Of course what was done to them is abhorrent. But, the evidence suggests that the same services as those under short supply for women would not have saved the lives of most of these trans people.

By identifying the context of the sex industry, which inherently abusive; or substance use, I am not excusing what was done to these people any more than I would consider involvement in prostitution or drug use as an excuse for killing women, or any more than I would hold any woman responsible for abuse perpetrated against her. Prostitution turns people into products and abusive, predatory men who fully recognise the power imbalance in the transaction, into consumers. Prostitution puts people, mainly women, in situations where they are easy prey to murderous men. It is the twisted logic of sex trade advocates that creates a space for victim blaming and denies that prostitution is abuse.

Where fatal violence is concerned, the evidence is that the violence perpetrated against trans people, is not the same violence as that which is perpetrated against women. It’s not the same, it might be proportionate, there aren’t reliable statistics on the number of trans identifying people in the UK so we can’t calculate. Of course not all violence and abuse is fatal, but we can still learn a lot about violence from that which is. It is possible that rates of fatal violence against trans people by men are higher than those of males against women if we take population sizes into account, but this would make that violence more in line with men’s violence against other men, after all men kill more men every year than they kill women. This does not justify removing the single sex exemptions permissible under the Equality Act in the provision of services for women who have been subjected to men’s violence and more than any other form of men’s violence against other men.

Like most people, I do not want to see trans people suffering violence, harassment and discrimination. Universal human rights are an important principle. If we want to stop violence, including fatal violence against trans people, we would be better placed addressing the drivers of violence and abuse of people who do not conform to the gender stereotypes associated with their sex. As a feminist, I would say that we would be better placed dismantling sex-role or gendered stereotypes. Being abused and/or killed as or because you are a gender non-conforming man is not the same as being abused and/or killed as or because you are a women. We help no one if we don’t acknowledge who is doing what to whom and why, or by falsely claiming that that violence against trans people is the same as men’s violence against women.

Counting Dead Women is a project about women killed by men

My name is Karen Ingala Smith and I prioritise women. I prioritise the well-being of women who have been subjected to men’s violence. I try to make sure I see the women that many others disregard. I’d like to contribute to ending men’s violence against women and girls. If I can’t do that, I’ll settle for helping ensure that women have access to specialist support from women, that victim-survivors’ needs are prioritised and wishes heard, and that more people understand the realities of men’s violence against women, girls and children.

Counting Dead Women is a project about women killed by men. I started it in January 2012 as a reaction to the murder of a young woman in East London. I watch out for media reports of women killed by men – and I record them.  I record their names so that those women are never merely statistics.

Yes, I know more men are victims of homicide. You know that they’re killed by men, right? No, I’m not going to start counting dead men. Find someone who is interested in men’s violence to men to do that for you. Or, do it yourself. Yes, you’ll be busy. I know, because I’ve been Counting Dead Women for over 9 years.

Yes, I know that sometimes women kill men. Do you know that when men kill a female partner or ex-partner, the Femicide Census was able to find evidence of prior violence and abuse to the woman they killed in 59% of cases.  And we’re sure this is an undercount because women so often tell no one about what an abusive man is doing to them behind closed doors.  Do you know that the Centre for Women’s Justice found that when women kill a male partner or ex-partner, in 77% of cases there was evidence that he, the man who was killed, was the one with the history of violence and abuse and that she was the victim?

Yes, I know that sometimes men who identify as transgender or transsexual are killed. There have, as far as I am aware, been 9 since 2009. Unlike most people who faux-innocently ask me whether Counting Dead Women includes ‘transwomen’, I could name every one of them.  Whether the fact that they rejected male gender norms played a part in their deaths, I don’t know. They were all killed by men, only one was killed by a current/former partner. Incidentally, trans identified males have killed 12 people in the same time period, four of them women and one a transgender male.

Yes, I oppose violence and discrimination against people because they reject sex-role stereotypes. There is an international movement to commemorate trans victims of murder. I don’t need to.  Nor would I because I prioritise women victims of men’s violence.  

No, I don’t believe that men who identify as transgender or transwomen are subjected to misogyny.  I believe they are subjected to hate and discrimination because they dare to reject male gender norms. I support and celebrate (not actively) any man’s right to do that.  No, I don’t believe people can change sex. I think gender functions to maintain male supremacy and female subordination.

I support universal human rights but you can do that and still prioritise women. There isn’t a single human right that excludes trans people. That’s the way it should be. No one has a human right to impose their belief system on another.

Prioritising women does not mean that I don’t care about anyone else, that I don’t recognise the humanity of males, or that I am incapable of empathising with, or liking individual males, including some who identify as transgender. It doesn’t mean that I don’t recognise the pain of someone who has lost a man that they love or care for to violence.  It just means that I prioritise women. I choose to devote my energies to women. My time. My life. My choice. It really doesn’t have to be yours but I think the state of the world reflects that fewer people choose to prioritise women than prioritise men, or accept the status quo.   

Since 2009, at least 1,691 women and girls aged 14 and over have been killed by men.  This includes 1,425 named in the Femicide Census, killed between 2009 and 2018, plus another whose death has come to light since we went to publication. Plus 128 women killed in 2019 (Femicide Census figures, as yet unpublished) and 107 killed in 2020 (we haven’t got the FOIs back yet, so this includes women identified in the media only and so it will undoubtedly increase) and 31 women killed this year.

And we know there are more. There were 117 women and girls who suffered violent, premature and suspicious deaths between 2009 and 2018, where men were directly or indirectly implicated that we couldn’t include in the Femicide Census (for reasons explained in the 10-year report). Those are just the women we know about. We don’t doubt that there are more that we don’t know about.

My name is Karen Ingala Smith and I prioritise women. I count women killed by men. No, I don’t count men. No, I don’t include transwomen. And if that isn’t good enough for you, I really don’t care what you think about me.

Why I was rejected for Labour Party membership and my response

I’m a feminist from a working-class background. I was social class conscious before I was sex-class conscious. I’d been a member, admittedly largely inactive, of the Labour Party for most of my adult life. I’d managed to hold my nose when Tony Blair changed Clause IV in 1995, and it was removed from membership cards, symbolising to me, a move away from the party’s proud socialist history. But, I resigned at some point about 10 years later when his promises to reform the House of Lords failed and I was angry that a party supposedly based on equality balked when it came to dealing with such a blatant example of inherited privilege.  I can’t remember when I re-joined but I resigned for a second time in 2018 when the then General secretary, Jennie Formby, announced that all-women-shortlists would no longer be women only. The conflict between my feminism and the party’s commitment dealing with sex inequality felt irreconcilable. 

I was devastated by the results of the general election in December 2019. I’d voted for Labour, of course.  I was barely interested in the furore around Corbyn. Labour are a political party, not a cult, and it has always been the party’s principles and their manifesto that mattered to me more than the leader; and the 2019 manifesto set out objectives that I would want to see underpinning society. It seemed to me – as it still does – that a Labour Party that didn’t meet my feminist ideals offered better opportunities for ordinary women than any other party. I was gutted at the thought of another five-years   of Tory rule, let alone the prospect of ten, so I applied to re-join within days of the defeat. 

Just over three months after I had applied to join the Labour Party, I received a letter (carrying the Stonewall logo) by email saying my membership had been rejected because: “information brought to our attention is that you have engaged in conduct online that may reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility based on gender identity.” The letter contained no evidence to back this assertion, so I appealed against the decision and submitted a subject access request. 12 weeks later, I received an email with an attachment to a document containing 14 tweets that, I must conclude, illustrate my on-line crimes. I was invited to make a “statement giving your reasons why you should be accepted into membership of the Labour Party and your reply to the decision to reject your application.”  I’ve decided to make my reply – and the reasons for their rejection – open. The tweets cover these eight issues:  

  1. Men’s fatal violence against women
  2. Not all feminists are the same
  3. Fantasies of totalitarian regimes
  4. Women’s sport and human rights
  5. Jess Phillips and the smell of sexism
  6. Non sequiturs
  7. Lesbians’ right to set their own sexual boundaries  
  8. Poodle kitten extermination and probable extinction
  1. Men’s Fatal Violence Against Women

The case against me

My defence

I spend a lot of time working on men’s fatal violence against women.  I calculated that number for a blog that I wrote in 2018, available here. I updated that figure in 2019, see here . So as far as I am able to find, the most recent data for the UK suggests that between 2007 and 2019, there were 62% more homicides perpetrated by trans-identified males than there were homicides of  people (who were all male) who identified as transgender.

I happen to think that knowing the truth about sex differences and fatal violence is an essential step towards ending men’s fatal violence against women.  I would also say that the truth is also an important step in addressing violence against those who identify as transgender, or indeed men’s violence against other men.

2. Not all feminists are the same

The case against me

My defence

There are variations on an allegation regularly made by trans extremist ‘activists’ that UK feminist groups are allied to and indeed funded by the religious Right in the USA.  It may be true of some women who consider themselves to be ‘gender critical’, some but not all of whom also consider themselves to be feminists. It isn’t true of any groups I’m involved with, any women I’m friends with and it isn’t true of me. It pisses me off. Don’t generalise from the beliefs or actions of some (and make)  an assumption about the beliefs or actions of all of any demographic. I thought that was a pretty basic principle. Evidently not one that the Labour Party thinks is important.

3. Fantasies of totalitarian regimes  

The evidence against me

My (partial) defence

Ermm, seriously?

1) I sincerely promise that I do not want to overthrow this fragile constitutional monarchy with a totalitarian regime that bans words. Actually, I’d love to get rid of the embarrassment that is the ‘royal family’, but it wasn’t what I was thinking about when I wrote this tweet;

2) Language is important, it shapes understanding as well as is shaped by it. Language is a propaganda tool and the word ‘transwoman’ needs unpicking on that basis.

3) I will admit that I think the phrase ‘gender-neutral’ is an oxymoron.There’s nothing neutral about gender, it’s a primary weapon of patriarchy functioning to enforce women’s sex-based oppression.

4) Who, over 50, isn’t irritated by the over generous peppering of ‘like’ in youth parlance, or ‘Best’ instead of ‘Best wishes’? That’s a rhetorical question by the way.

4. Women’s sport and human rights

The case against me

My defence

I absolutely stand by every word.

5. Jess Phillips and the smell of sexism

The case against me

My defence

Jess Phillips does important work on domestic violence and abuse in her role as an MP. I am particularly grateful to her for reading the names of all women killed by men (collected by me), on International Women’s Day every year for the last four years. I know this means a lot to many of the friends and families of women killed and I feel so very honoured to have played a role in getting their names recorded in Hansard. However, I strongly disagree with the opinions she expressed in Mumsnet and Penis News interviews. I also believe that some of the critique (at best), trolling and the death threats she has received are rooted in sexism and misogyny. It reeks. I can disagree with her on this issue (and others) and still respect and feel grateful for her work on men’s violence against women.

6. Non sequiturs

The case against me

My defence

I take full responsibility for this appalling non sequitur. What was I thinking? I’m sorry. Maybe it made sense at the time but it doesn’t now.

7. Lesbians’ right to set their own sexual boundaries  

The case against me

My defence

I stand by every word.  Lesbians are same-sex attracted women and I will defend their right to set their sexual boundaries on this basis. To require otherwise is lesbophobia. Can someone in the Labour Party or anywhere else justify this? 

8.        Poodle kitten extermination  and probable extinction

The case against me

My defence

I really, really, really do not wish death upon poodle kittens. They’re such gorgeous little grumpy faced gremlins. I would never knowingly bring one to harm. Save the poodle kittens!

Sex and gender aren’t the same though. In the context that I was using the words, one refers to whether a human being is female or male. The other (as I have mentioned above) is a primary weapon of patriarchy functioning to enforce women’s sex-based oppression. It isn’t helpful to confuse the two.

To conclude

Apparently, these tweets (and to be honest plenty more where they came from) make me unworthy of the Labour Party. From where I stand though, if the Labour Party defends the positions in opposition to them, I don’t think it is worthy of my support.  I will, with reluctance accept eptance that we are mutually incompatible. 

I would love to see a government based on socialist, anti-sexist and anti-racist principles in my lifetime.  None of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats or Green Party are good for women, or poor people, or people of African, Caribbean, Asian or Arabic heritage. Labour, at the very least, is the least bad option. I’ll never vote for the Conservatives as long as I can draw breath. I can’t imagine voting Lib Dem cos their libertarianism is too often at the expense of women’s rights and dignity, and the Greens (as they are) are a lost cause. I’ll probably always vote Labour but where my vote could be seen as for a safe seat, I might be tempted to spoil my vote.

You win Labour.  Good luck with the next general election – but I’m interested to see what you plan to do to end male supremacy and women’s sex-based oppression.

The importance of women only spaces and services for women and girls who’ve been subjected to men’s violence

Speech to Scottish Parliament – January 14th 2020

 

nia is a charity based in north east London run by women, for women, girls and children who have been subjected to men’s violence– primarily sexual and domestic violence and abuse, including prostitution. nia has been operating for 45 years,  We provide advocacy and counselling through East London Rape Crisis for women and girls aged 11 and above, regardless of when they were subjected to sexual violence, who perpetrated it and how long ago it happened, we have two refuges, one for women with problematic substance use and one for women who have been involved in prostitution and we were provide a range of community based services for women subjected to domestic violence and abuse and prostitution. I’ve been CEO  of nia for the last 10 and altogether I’ve been working in specialist women’s services for almost 30 years. Last year, across nia’s various projects, we provided one-to-one face-to-face support to just over 1,500 women and girls, 8 men – and 5 people who identified as transgender, all male. We haven’t yet been approached by a trans-identified female, but given the changing profile of the trans population, we know this is just a matter of time. Then again, because they don’t consider themselves to be women and we are a women’s charity, perhaps they’ll choose not to access us; perhaps, we can expect to be contacted by them if they need us if they join the growing number of de-transitioners.

Where contracts require us to support men and some do, we do so; and male victims are treated with the same levels of skill, respect and dignity as women and girls. We do not support men in venues that we use to support women and we do not support men at all in our refuges or our therapeutic groups. We do not employ males.

A couple of years ago, nia’s board of trustees, in the latter stages of finalising the charity’s strategic plan, took the decision to identify supporting the preservation of women-only services as one of our strategic objectives. We agreed that if we did not speak out, we were being complicit in the erosion of women-led specialist services for survivors of men’s violence. We have developed a ‘Prioritising Women Policy’ which meets our obligations under the Equality Act and uses the single sex exemptions permitted therein.

We knew that this decision was not without risks. Like many small and medium sized charities, nia cannot take financial security for granted. We’re run on a handful of 2-3 year contracts. Each winter, as we look at the financial forecast for the coming year, there is a deficit. We carefully balance spending requirements, contracts that are still running, looking at those that are ending and asking ourselves whether we have a chance of retaining them, and how much we have in reserves just in case, and we hold our breath and tentatively continue. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now with nia and it doesn’t get any easier, and some years are definitely worse than others. Anyway, despite this, nia’s board bravely decided to focus on the bigger picture of what is best for women, in particular those subjected to men’s violence – and agreed that if, as a charity, this was going to be the hill we died on, we would go down fighting. We would go down fighting and prioritising women.

One of the most important ways that we can contribute to creating a ‘safe space’ for women who have experienced men’s violence ……. is quite simply by keeping men out. Men are far more likely to commit violence than women. Exclude men and you are very significantly reducing the prevalence of violence.

Over the last 10 years, 85% of those found guilty of domestic homicide in Scotland were males. Also in Scotland, in the year ending March 2017:

  • 86% of homicide suspects were male
  • 79% of prosecutions for common assault were of males
  • 91% of prosecutions for serious assault were of males
  • 98% of prosecutions for sexual violence were against males.

I’m not naive or dishonest enough to claim that women are never violent – of course some women are.  But when women are violent – and remember it’s statistically way less frequent – when we are – we generally cause less harm than violent men. And, there is no credible evidence suggesting that males who identify as trans commit violence against women at lower rates than those who do not.  I’m not saying that men who identify as transgender are inherently violent or that all trans identified males are violent – just that they are no less violent that other males. And they are males.

In addition, but just as importantly, we know -– and independent research confirms – that women subjected to men’s violence feel safer and fare better in women only spaces and value those run by independent women-led charities most of all.

Some say that ‘we’ – those of us working is specialist women’s services – can use risk assessments to assess whether a male who says he is trans poses a risk to women.  Let’s look at this in relation to women’s refuges:

When a risk assessment is completed with a woman looking to move in to a refuge, time is usually critical. You need to help her to get to a place of safety and quickly. She’s either already left her home or is planning to do so urgently because she is in danger. Maybe she’s called and needs to get out whilst her partner is due to be out of the house for a few hours.  You’re also looking at whether the location of the refuge offers safety and can meet the woman’s needs and those of her children if she has them, and whether she herself might pose a risk to others living in the refuge. With risk assessment, you’re assessing the risk she is facing from her partner and planning how you can help her to reduce the often intensified risks associated with actually leaving an abusive man. The Femicide Census, a project I co-founded, told us that a third of women who are killed by a partner/ex-partner, are killed after they have left him. Of these about a third are killed within the first month and two-thirds within the first year. Leaving an abusive man is dangerous and difficult. Risk assessment with safety planning can help save lives.  Risk assessment is not about assessing whether or not a woman is, in reality, a violent male.

If you expect refuges to accommodate males who identify as trans, you’re asking staff in already under-resourced women’s refuges (Scottish Women’s Aid report that cuts to Scottish refuges have increased from 14% to 41% between 2009 and 2016. Their annual survey reported that 30% of survivors who sought refuge in Scotland had to be turned away), you’re asking staff in already under-resourced women’s refuges, to differentiate between:

  • Transgender people born male who have genuinely experienced men’s violence and have managed to unpick their male socialisation and who will not use their sense of male entitlement or sexism or misogyny to harm, reduce and control women in the refuge and
  • those transgender people born male who have genuinely experienced violence but are still dripping in male privilege and advantage and who hate or resent women; and
  • those transgender people born male who are narcissistic perpetrators who have managed to convince themselves (and others) that they are victims , and
  • those transgender people born male who are seeking validation, which some, if they were self-aware and able to be honest, would recognise as a need that can never be satisfied, and who might prioritise their validation above the needs of women, and
  • those transgender people born male who are autogynophiles (that’s a male who is sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female) or other fetishists, and,
  • finally other men who are pretending to be trans in order to track down a particular woman or predatory men trying to access women in general. And we do know that violent and abusive men lie and manipulate. Violent and abusive men stand up in court, swear to tell the truth and lie and manipulate.

No one’s yet explained to me how risk assessment is supposed to screen out most of those men – let alone convinced me of the wisdom of trying to make a bedroom for a fox in a henhouse. Risk assessment is about identifying risks posed by violent men and mitigating against them, not chucking in a few extra because you can.

But …. let’s set that small matter aside. Let’s imagine for a moment that you could, as some claim, risk assess trans-identified males for their suitability and safety to inhabit your space or attend your service, which of course is now no-longer women-only. What you’re ignoring if you do this is the impact of men’s presence on women who’ve been subjected to men’s violence.

It’s not unusual for women who’ve been subjected to men’s violence to develop a trauma response. These sometimes develop after a single incident of violence, especially with sexual violence, but also sometimes after years or months of living in fear, walking on egg-shells, recognising that tone of voice, that look in the eyes, that sigh, that pause, that silence, that change in his breathing. Some women have lived this, with a succession of perpetrators starting from their dad, all their lives.

A trauma informed approach is based on understanding the physical, social, and emotional impact of trauma caused by experiencing sexual and domestic violence and abuse. A trauma-informed service understands the importance of creating an environment – physical and relational – that feels safe to victims-survivors in all the ways I’ve just mentioned. A trauma-informed safe space creates space for action and recovery from violence and abuse and places the woman victim-survivor in control and in the centre. For many women this absolutely means excluding men from that space, including those who don’t identify as men.

Women are gas-lighted (manipulated to question their own judgement or even sanity) by their abusive male partners all the time. It is a cornerstone of coercive control. As a service provider you are in a position of power, no matter how you try to balance this out, and of course we do as much as possible to balance this out, but ultimately it is inescapable. You are not offering a trauma informed environment if you, in your position of power, gaslight traumatised women and pretend that someone that you both really know is a man, is actually a woman.  It is furthering the abuse to then expect women to share what you say is women-only space with males who say that they are women, because you and they know are not.  Part of your role is to help women to learn to trust themselves again, not replace the batshit that their abuser has filled their head with, with a new version. All this is on top of what I looked at earlier, that statistically women are safer in women only environments – because men commit violence at significantly higher rates.

It isn’t just women experiencing serious and debilitating trauma who benefit from women-only spaces and services. Women tell us that they want and value women-only space for safety, empathy, trust, comfort, a focus on women’s needs, the expertise of female staff often themselves survivors. They tell us they feel more confident and find them less intimidating. Women-only spaces offer not only a space away from the specific man that women are escaping or who has violated them but away from men in general; away from men’s control and demands for attention; away from men taking physical and mental space; away from the male gaze and men’s constant appraisal of women; away from men’s expectations to be cared for and, just as importantly, a space where women share in common experiences of abuse despite how these differ and despite all the other differences between us. A space with others who understand, to whom you don’t have to explain why you didn’t leave earlier and who know how easy it is to feel guilty or stupid because you didn’t.

We know that at least 80% of males who hold a gender recognition certificate retain their penis, but anyway, we don’t need to know what’s in their pants to know they are a man. Women experiencing trauma after violence and abuse will, like most of us – almost always instantly read someone who might be the most kind and gentle trans identified male in the world – as male; and they may experience debilitating terror immediately and involuntarily, they will modify their behaviour, their actions and expectations in countless ways, many that they are not consciously aware off. They need and deserve a break, don’t they?

Since I’ve spoken out to defend women-only services, I’ve lost count of the number of victim-survivors of men’s violence who have told me how important a women only service was to them. They’re often upset and emotional when they start to talk about this.

That any woman working in, but most of all those in leadership positions which are connected to women’s welfare, are prepared to sit on the fence about the importance of women-only spaces for victim survivors of men’s violence, and whether men can magically become women, makes me want to both rage – and weep. You cannot opt of this. You cannot sit back. You cannot, especially if you are happy to accept the salary and other perks of a leadership position claim to ‘have an opinion on this’ but in the next breath say it ‘isn’t safe for me to speak out’. None of women’s political gains were achieved by well-paid women who played safe and put themselves first rather than women as a class. How dare any woman take a leadership position and leave it to others, many of them victim-survivors, to do this? How dare they claim to care about women’s safety and look away, pretending that there is nothing to see here? Please don’t look away.

 This not about hate. It’s not about bigotry. It is not anti-trans.  It’s about women and children who have been subjected to men’s violence.  Can we please just sometimes – sometime like now – put them first?

Comparing UK homicide perpetration and suspect rates for male, female and trans people April 2007 – March 2018

 

  1. Women[i]

Total number of female homicide victims aged 16 years and over = 1,816

Total number of female homicide suspects = 445

There are 75% fewer female homicide suspects than there are victims.

 

  1. Men*[ii]

Total number of male homicide victims aged 16 years and over = 4,288

Total number of male homicide suspects = 4,696

There are 10% more male homicide suspects than there are victims.

 

  1. Trans people (all male)[iii]

Total number of male homicide victims aged 16 years and over = 8

Total number of male homicide suspects = 12

There are 50% more trans-identified male homicide suspects than there are victims.

 

Updated 21 November 2019 to include deaths in 2019

Trans people (all male)[iii]

Total number of male homicide victims aged 16 years and over = 8

Total number of male homicide suspects = 13

There are 62.5% more trans-identified male homicide suspects than there are victims.

 

N.B. As far as I know, the ONS don’t state whether or not they include data from trans perpetrators and suspects by their sex or (assumed) trans gender identity, therefore trans victims and murders are also included in the data for women and/or men.

[i] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/appendixtableshomicideinenglandandwales

[ii] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/appendixtableshomicideinenglandandwales

[iii] http://transcrimeuk.com/2017/11/16/trans-homicides-in-the-uk-a-closer-look-at-the-numbers/