Where trans people should be located in prisons is, of course, a contentious topic. I think the easiest solution is to abolish prisons, but that’s beyond the scope of this essay today.
Kay Brown perpetuates an ugly myth about trans women, one that has debunked by the author of the study herself;
“In the Dhejne study following up a cohort of post-op transsexuals they found,”
Male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime compared to female controls (aHR 6.6; 95% CI 4.1–10.8) but not compared to males (aHR 0.8; 95% CI 0.5–1.2). This indicates that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime. By contrast, female-to-males had higher crime rates than female controls (aHR 4.1; 95% CI 2.5–6.9) but did not differ from male controls. This indicates a shift to a male pattern regarding criminality and that sex reassignment is coupled to increased crime rate in female-to-males. The same was true regarding violent crime.
Indeed, this is a direct quote from the study. But it ignores a few other important things located in the study. Namely, that that trans women and men did not have statistically identical crime rates when comparing the more recent data period, and that the study did not break down what types of crimes were committed.
If we look at what the lead author of the study has said in various interactions:
In a Reddit AMA:
Regarding criminality there are only results from either both trans women and trans men and displayed for the whole period 1973-2003 and for the periods of 1973-1988 and the 1989-2003. If one is only intrested in transwomen data is only available for the whole period. For only assigned med who had transition 1973-2003 they had committed more crimes than cis women and more violent crime than cis women. The number of transwomen who had comited crime durin gthis period was 32, and the number who had comitted violent crime were 14. Most likely some of the 32 transwomen who had comitted a any crime had also comitted a violent crime sop you can not add the numbers. Having a male pattern means that they did not differ regarding any crime or violent crime if compared with cis men. However even if I can’t say how it is for trans women specific one could see that if the whole group (tran women and trans men) are displayed together there is a very postive time trend. So after 1989 the transgender men and women together did not differ from cis gender men and women regarding comitting any crime or violent crime. This means that the trana population was not more criminal then the cis population after 1989. The actual number of any crimes for the transgroup is for 1973-2003 60, for 1973-1988 38 and for 1989-2003 22. The numbers of violent crimes are for 1972-2003 14, for 1973-1988 10 1989-2003 4
For combined transgender females and males and for the whole period 1973-2003 we saw an increased risk of being dead ( in suicide and cardio vascular diseases) and of being hospitalized for any psychiatric morbidity and for suicide attempts. We saw a positive time trend regarding mortality, suicide attempts and any crime and violent crime. For the last period (1989-2003) the transgender group did not have any elevated risk of being dead or being hospitalized for suicide attempts or committing any crime or violent crime. They had the same risk as the controls. However the elevated risk for being hospitalized for psychiatric morbidity still remained. The elevated risk in the transgender group could be caused of many things which we were unable to control for. We were able to control for psychiatric morbidity and immigrant status but there are more variables which could explain increased mortality suicidality and psychiatric morbidity.
And with her interview with Cristan Williams:
The individual in the image who is making claims about trans criminality, specifically rape likelihood, is misrepresenting the study findings. The study as a whole covers the period between 1973 and 2003. If one divides the cohort into two groups, 1973 to 1988 and 1989 to 2003, one observes that for the latter group (1989 – 2003), differences in mortality, suicide attempts, and crime disappear. This means that for the 1989 to 2003 group, we did not find a male pattern of criminality
As to the criminality metric itself, we were measuring and comparing the total number of convictions, not conviction type. We were not saying that cisgender males are convicted of crimes associated with marginalization and poverty. We didn’t control for that and we were certainly not saying that we found that trans women were a rape risk. What we were saying was that for the 1973 to 1988 cohort group and the cisgender male group, both experienced similar rates of convictions. As I said, this pattern is not observed in the 1989 to 2003 cohort group.
The difference we observed between the 1989 to 2003 cohort and the control group is that the trans cohort group accessed more mental health care, which is appropriate given the level of ongoing discrimination the group faces. What the data tells us is that things are getting measurably better and the issues we found affecting the 1973 to 1988 cohort group likely reflects a time when trans health and psychological care was less effective and social stigma was far worse.
It’s pretty clear from the quote that the study doesn’t evidence any of the claims about rape.
“Dr. Watson’s suggestion that pre-operative male to female transsexuals would pose little physical risk to female prisoners was addressed by several of CSC’s witnesses. Dr. Dickey, Dr. Hucker and Ms. Petersen all disagree with Dr. Watson’s statement that most male to female transsexual inmates are attracted to men: To the contrary, they say, the majority of transsexuals in federal prisons are actually attracted to women. It takes serious criminal activity to qualify a person for a federal prison sentence in Canada. According to Dr. Dickey and Ms. Petersen, homosexual transsexuals do not generally have the degree of aggressiveness or psychopathy necessary to get them into a Canadian federal prison. The transsexuals that Dr. Hucker has encountered in the correctional setting tend, he says, to be “more ambiguous” in their sexual orientation… Dr. Dickey, Dr. Hucker and Ms. Petersen all say that they would be very concerned about putting a pre-operative male to female heterosexual transsexual inmate in a women’s prison, given the risk that the inmate would prey on female prisoners.”
The quote is real, but it’s heavily cherrypicked. The full quote can be found here and contains some significant flaws:
Further, Dr. Dickey queries why a homosexual male to female transsexual would want to move to a women’s prison
A straight trans woman would want to moved to a women’s prison because she is a woman. She’d likely also want to move prisons because she’d be raped: trans women have sexual victimization rates of over 30% in men’s prisons.
Even more problematically, the case that the testimony comes from (Kavanagh vs Canada) had the conclusion that Kavanagh’s placement in a male prison violated her rights.
The physicians being cited testified over 17 years ago and the medical consensus has gradually shifted.
Then there is the concern that some transwomen may be a danger to children. There have been several cases of transwomen in prison for sexual assault on, and even murder of, children.
Then there is the concern that some ciswomen may be a danger to children. There have been several cases of ciswomen in prison for sexual assault on, and even murder of, children.
There is even documentation of two pedophiles seeking to transition and receive medical interventions who admitted a belief that as women their interest in being around children would be more socially acceptable!
I’d love to read the “documentation”, but I don’t think it’s surprising that some pedophiles have perverse motivations for doing any of the actions in their lives. This shouldn’t reflect upon trans women as a group, it just goes to show that pedophiles should never be in general population.
Denying it does not serve the transgender community.
A common tactic of Brown’s is to claim that some substantial or relevant portion of the trans communities or of trans activists deny that “bad trans people”™ exist when she never (or rarely) provides concrete examples.
Transfolk’s sexual orientation, etiology (taxonomic diagnoses), and surgical status must be considered but no hard and fast rule applied.
I don’t see how trans people’s sexual orientations are relevant here. Are we claiming that lesbian women should have their sexual orientation taken into account as to where they are going to be housed in prisons?
A transwoman who has ever exhibited violent or sexual crimes (not including prostitution) should NEVER be housed in a women’s facility regardless of current surgical status. That is to say, a rapist has forfeited the privilege and the prison system shouldn’t provide new victims to a predator.
Do we apply the same standards to:
a) cis women
b) cis men
Because anything else is outright transphobia. It’s not that I disagree with separating rapists from the general population on some abstract principle, but that it should a policy that’s implemented equitably among varying gender identities.