Julia Hartley-Brewer railed against one of her co-presenters after he used the term ‘cis woman’.
Comedian Steve N Allen began sharing his views on transgender women in women’s prisons, but was cut short by Hartley-Brewer for saying the word.
“If you’re a woman in a women’s prison, you should be safe from being attacked by a cis or a trans woman,” Allen said, before he was interrupted.
“You’re not allowed to come on my show and say that. It’s a woman or a trans woman,” Hartey-Brewer cut in.
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Allen explained that he hadn’t meant any offence by using the term ‘cis’ which refers to people who are comfortable with the sex they were born as. “It’s just the latin opposite of trans,” he said.
“No, I’m not a cis women, we are women, we are biologically women,” Hartley-Brewer insisted.
“I’m not going to have that BBC claptrap on my show.
“We don’t have to adjust what we’re called for a tiny minority of activists who don’t even represent trans people.
“I’m not having our language reduced in this way. I’m quite happy for someone to be a trans woman or a trans man, but you don’t get to take away what I am because you change your gender.”
Increase in transgender prisoners
Transgender prisoner Karen White, born Stephen Wood
The heated exchange came after Richard Garside of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies joined the breakfast show to discuss the slight increase in transgender prisoners in the British justice system.
A report from the Ministry of Justice released this week showed that 44 of the UK’s 124 prisons had at least one transgender prisoner.
The number of transgender prisoners across the estate was 139, an increase of last year’s figure of 135.
Some 111 of those reported their legal gender as male - which could mean they are biologically male or have a gender recognition certificate affirming a new gender - and 23 as female. However, when asked what gender they identified as, 114 answered with female.
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There were 42 transgender convicts in women’s prisons, and 22 of that number identified as female. Some 97 transgender people were in men’s prisons, and 92 of those identified as female.
“It works out at about one or two men in every women’s prison,” said Garside. “Of course one should respect how people want to identify and it’s important that the prison service puts in place arrangements to ensure that men who identify as, or claim to be women, are in conditions that are safe and secure.
“But that shouldn’t be at the expense of women in prison.”
Prisoners 'victims of male violence'
He added that female prisoners have often suffered abuse - figures show 57% are victims of domestic violence, and 53% have suffered childhood abuse.
“A fact here that’s often forgotten is that most women in prison have been victims of male violence, often grotesque sexual violence,” Garside said.
“Women in prison have no agency or choice about being there. There is certainly an issue about men going into those prisons and abusing those women.
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“There is also a broader question which is about whether we believe it is possible and indeed necessary to have female-only spaces… whether it’s fair on women in prison to be expected to share their spaces with other prisoners who they not unreasonably would consider to be men. What that does to them, what that does to their rehabilitation or recovery, what that does to their mental health.”
Transgender prisoner Karen White was sentenced to life in prison in October after committing multiple sex offences while being held in a women’s prison.
The prosecutor said White, born Stephen Wood, used a “transgender persona” to abuse women: “The prosecution suggest the reason for the lack of commitment towards transitioning is so the defendant can use a transgender persona to put herself in contact with vulnerable persons she can then abuse."