Tara Hudson and the betrayal of female prisoners

by Rosie Redstockings

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It was announced this afternoon that Tara Hudson has been transferred to a female prison.

I will use male pronouns in discussing Hudson – not because I wish to be provocative or offensive, but because I’m sick and tired of putting women at risk in order to appease male feelings. It’s time for the truth.

Hudson is a man. A 5’10” man, with a penis, what he describes in his escort ad as a “7 inch surprise”. He has a history of violent crime – 8 prior convictions, including for battery – what the judge described as a “worrying criminal record”. Last December, Hudson was drinking at a bar in Bath, when (in the words of the prosecutor, Neil Treharne):

“After being asked to pay her tab and leave, the victim Mr Dyer pushed a glass away from Hudson, fearing she would pick it up and assault him. The court heard that she lunged forward to grab it, was restrained by Mr Dyer, and then headbutted him in the face.

He suffered an injury to the nose and a sore chest and had to have £1,500 worth of treatment on his teeth.”

Hudson has had plastic surgery that makes him look convincing like he is female – he has opted for large breasts and long blonde hair. Based on the photos that have been circulating online, he passes convincingly, though he seems to be emulating a very hyper-sexualised, submissive, pornified image of womanhood: a man’s idea of what it means to be a woman.

When I first saw the change.org petition being circulated online, I was sympathetic to Hudson’s situation. Male prisons are violent and terrifying, because men are violent and terrifying. Gender non-conforming men (who may or may not call themselves trans) are at risk of sexual violence in prison, and feminists are uniformly opposed to male sexual violence, whoever the victim. All vulnerable men should be protected from any sort of violence while in prison, and Hudson is no exception.

BUT

Hudson’s supporters do not just want him to be protected from male sexual violence. They’re not happy for him to be placed in a separate male facility, or segregated from the rest of the prison population – as police officers are, for instance – they want him in a women’s prison. They want his gender identity to be validated.

Hudson is a sympathetic case. He is attractive, and looks convincingly like a woman. He may have a violent history, but he has no history of sexual violence. He may or may not pose a risk to female inmates – we simply don’t know. It’s easy for his supporters to dismiss radical feminist concerns as laughable – “what? You really think this person is a rapist??” Radical feminists are usually dismissed in this way. We’re paranoid, man-hating, illogical, bigoted. Critics can fall back on well-worn stereotypes about TERFs and their hateful opinions.

But I fear that Hudson is only the beginning. It used to be that a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) was required for trans women to be transferred to women’s prisons (the transferees are always trans women of course, never trans men). To be granted a GRC, the applicant has to prove that they have been living as the opposite sex for at least 2 years. Hudson doesn’t have this – he hasn’t had surgery, he is not legally recognised as being a woman. The decision to house him with women is based entirely on the fact that he looks very feminine, and so has attracted a great deal of public support. That’s it.

Women should be frightened and angry. Today we have come one step closer to granting men unfettered access to the female prison population. Even the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists acknowledge that men are likely to abuse this new liberty:

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Because why the hell wouldn’t they? Why are we pursuing a system that relies on the integrity and self-control of convicted sex offenders?

What really frightens me are the numbers. According to the most recent figures, in June 2013 there were 10,498 men serving time for sexual offences in the UK prison pop (compared with 77 women). In the same month, the total female prison population came to 3,853. That means that the number of men in prison for sexual offences is ALMOST THREE TIMES the total number of women in prison.

How many of those men would be prepared to call themselves trans, if it meant they could be transferred? With no requirement to get a GRC, or take hormones, or have surgery?

Even if only 1% of imprisoned sex offenders decided to feign transition and were transferred, women’s prisons would comprise 2.6% male sex offenders.

If 10% decided to do it, then 21% of prisoners in women’s prisons would be male sex offenders.

Never underestimate that lengths that violent men will go to in order to abuse. Today’s decision paves the way for more and more of these men to get what they want. Today it was Tara Hudson – a passing trans woman, taking hormones, with no history of sexual violence. Next it will be a trans woman who doesn’t pass. And then a trans woman who has never taken hormones. And then a trans woman who has raped women.

And the people at risk – the people who have never been mentioned in the media, who have been invisible throughout this whole debacle – are the women in prison. The majority (81%) of these women have not been imprisoned for violent offences; more than half (53%) have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse as children; they are disproportionately likely to be poor, non-white, and to have suffered violence at the hands of men.

These women have been betrayed by liberal feminism.