This article is obviously focused on the potential negative impact this law might have on a large number of incarcerated women. It does not discuss the plight of transgender women in male prisons. Covering all aspects in detail would make for a very long article and is not the area of expertise for the author. It is an opinion piece, not news reporting. Many have added comments about the hardship of incarcerated transwomen and I’d encourage everyone to read those too.
The law as written will probably result in several cases of rap in women’s prisons. Not by transwomen, but by men who can easily game the system. The problem is that merely saying you are a woman does not make you one.
The first step for placing a transwoman should be an evaluation by a professional. Things like history, medical procedures and the like should be taken into consideration. Why doesn’t this law at least include some evaluation?
I am an American living in Singapore where this type of prison law isn’t a thing. If someone takes the necessary measures to “qualify” as a woman, they ARE a woman legally. (The bar is quite high to qualify). It has been this way for decades. A transwoman would go to the woman’s prison. It would not even be questioned. I don’t think there has ever been a sexual assault incident by a transwoman in a Singapore prison. I don’t have data, but I’d guess the risk of assault by another ciswoman is higher.
I have close friends and family members who are trans. Talking about anything “trans” is really rare, but when I asked about this American law, they gave the usual reaction to my cross-cultural queries. “You American’s are crazy”!
One said, “No way that should be when the guy hasn’t ‘been to the doctor’ ”.
My response was, “That’s not right. Not every transwoman can afford such an operation or might be afraid or something”.
Another friend responded, “If you are really a woman it is more important than food. You will find a way”.
Someone said, “Castration is cheap. If it is a man pretending to be a woman, he won’t go for that”.
Finally, one of the transwomen who has not been to the doctor (legally not a woman) just said. “For me, if you feel you are a woman and you act like a woman, you can be one of the girls. But, you can’t expect that treatment from the prison system. Of course, I would prefer the women’s prison, but so would all the men. Then what”?
To my western ears, this common-sense sounds quite un-PC. But, it seems to me that there needs to be some test of authenticity to the claim of being a woman in the eyes of the law.
So, under this law, what would happen if half the male prison population decides to just say they are women? Whether or not they intend to be sex offenders, they can just say they are men again on the day they are released.
I’m someone very concerned about the treatment of trans people, but I think laws like this will create a backlash and we’ll all be worse off for it in the end.