by Barbara Kay
For five decades, thanks to feminism, women's reputations and esteem have progressively grown. After a long time, we were finally accorded due respect. Subsequently, however, Gender ideologues have decreed that men who identify as women are women in their own right and with all the rights that go with it.
Surprisingly, without giving up, in the name of 'inclusion', our cultural and political elites have adhered to this self-evident falsehood. Thus, in the last decade, respect for women has regressedand they are compromised equity and safety in single-sex protected spaces such as sports, anti-violence shelters and prisons. It is particularly disconcerting that this double game against women is taking place with the full complicity of politicians and decision-makers who call themselves feminists.
A good example of this situation is the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS)which provides legal and public assistance services across Canada through a network of regional offices. CAEFS is named after a woman of the same name who reformed the English prison system in the 19th century and whose primary goal was to improve conditions for imprisoned women with children. CAEFS is subsidised by Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, by the ministry of Bill Blair. (Blair's office did not respond to our request for information for this article).
From 1992 until 2016, when she was appointed senator, the head of CAEFS was Kim Patea human rights lawyer and trainer specialising in prison law. Pate was admired and loved by her constituency. A CAEFS beneficiary in the Pate era, Alia Pierini of Prince George, B.C., had served several years in prison for drug dealing. In recovering his dignity and self-respect after his release, Alia said in an interview, The Elizabeth Fry Society has played a significant role, not only because of its work in a shelter it runs, but because of its 'incredible support' in general. Alia was involved as a regional volunteer and became an effective speaker on behalf of CAEFS. Unfortunately, says Alia, the focus of the headquarters changed abruptly after Pate's departure.
Now the government's policy is that men who identify themselves as women - or they say they identify with it - are authorised to request transfer to the women's prisonwhere conditions are certainly more pleasant because violence is not a problem there like in men's prisons. These men do not have to undergo gender reassignment surgery, as was the case in the past. (which placed a low numerical limit on who could do it) nor are they obliged to undertake a hormone pathway. Among the men allowed to transfer to Canadian women's prisons there have been men convicted of paedophilia, sex crimes, and crimes against children (murderers).
At the 2019 CAEFS Annual Meeting, supported by the members of the Lived Experience committee, of which Pierini was a member, a former prisoner, 'Kathy', recounted the trauma and sexual harassment she suffered in prison by a male paedophile who had used violence on hundreds of girls. Like about 80% of inmates, Kathy was sexually abused in her teenage years, and had no opportunity to defend herself while in prison. Katy noted that Correctional Services of Canada dismissed her complaints, threatening to isolate her and labelling her pleas for help as bigotry.
According to Pierini in a room of more than 60 women - mostly CAEFS directors, staffers and regional volunteers - Kathy's story was greeted with stony silence. She was chased out of the room in tears. After she left, comments like: "I'm sorry for what happened to you, but you don't need a vagina to be a woman". O "I am concerned about the transphobia in this room'..
The discussion returned to the need for full support of trans women by CAEFS, as if Kathy had not spoken out. The meeting ended with CAEFS adopting a general resolution for the inclusion of trans women which, among other things, would mean supporting the transfer of any trans-identified males from male to female prisons. Before approval, some staff members and volunteers tried to include an amendment to exclude prisoners with a history of sexual violence and to maintain women-only spaces.. Request that failed and the resolution passed with a solid majority. Afterwards, Pierini said, the regional supporters with whom she had been on good terms up to that point snubbed her as they left the room.
It was a crucial moment of disillusionment for Pierini and some other staff and volunteers who resigned from CAEFS. A resistance movement formed under the leadership of Heather Masonformer prisoner/activist (who told this story) and 2 June wrote an open letter to the CAEFS executive director and board memberssigned by 22 dissidents with experience of working in women's prisons, in which Kathy's humiliating experience was described as a turning point and disappointment and discontent were expressed.
The most significant parts of the letter are as follows: "We are reviewing a situation similar to that of women in the 1930s, when a tunnel was built between P4W (Prison for Women) and Kingston Penitentiary so that women could be taken underground, to be raped by male prisoners. What has changed? The tunnel is now ideological, and all it takes is a transfer".
The CAEFS replied with a letter to the dissidents, inviting them to send an e-mail or telephone if they wanted to talk about it again (but without any mention that it would have any effect on the policy) and then with a public statement unsigned on 4 June reaffirmed its commitment to trans inclusion. It also denied that CAEFS had access to reports or news of any incidents of 'harassment and violence' against women in prison by male prisoners who had been transferred. (statement clearly contradicted by my sources).
In an article published on womenarehuman.com, Mason cites a May 2019 meeting between stakeholders in the issue of male transfers with former deputy commissioner for women, Kelly Blanchette, who reported that "of all requests for transfer from male prisons, 50 per cent came from sex offenders who committed crimes as men, and accounted for 20 per cent of the total male prison population." (sexual crimes account for about 2 per cent of women prisoners).
Women's rights, dignity and safety based on gender are protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Now the rights to gender expression are protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act. Anyone with any common sense on the issue of differences between men and women should have immediately imagined the collision points between gender expression and rights based on sex, and requested derogations. Prisons are clearly one of these points. Elizabeth Fry would have understood that limits should be set on the 'inclusion' of men when women begin to pay for trans inclusion with fear and increased risk of abuse.. And so should any organisation that bears his name.
Link to original article here
Translation by Angela Tacchini