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Case Studies: 

‘Karen Jones’ (AKA Mark Jones & Karen Louise Lawson) 

Jones was convicted in 2001 when he was 18 years old of manslaughter after he killed his 43-year old partner, Michael Cutler, by suffocation and strangulation.  By the time of his arrest, he had changed his name by deed poll to Karen Louise Lawson.  It was reported at his trial that he had been in the process of ‘transitioning’ whilst he was with Cutler and had wanted to wear female clothing and nail varnish, and have ‘reassignment’ surgery.  Cutler had apparently refused to pay for this surgery and a psychiatric report stated that Jones/Lawson’s gender identity disorder was a significant factor leading to him losing control (and of course Cutler losing his life).  Jones-now-Lawson was jailed for five years in the male estate at a Young Offenders’ Institute, but was released in 2002 on Licence to a female bail hostel (Manchester Evening News, 10 August 2004).  

Only five days after his release, he violently attacked and attempted to rape a female shop assistant at Transformations, a shop where men can buy clothing and other items for their ‘transition’.  The attack only ended because he failed to get an erection.  During his trial in 2003 at Bolton Crown Court, his defence claimed that the attack had been a cry for help and a desperate attempt to obtain ‘reassignment’ surgery by returning to prison where he believed he would be able to obtain it.  The Court heard that he was angry that whilst his victim was a woman, he was not (Evening Standard, 18 August 2003).  Although his defence team claimed that Jones/Lawson was also a victim, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and was initially held in the male estate at HMP Manchester (Manchester Evening News, 10 August 2004).

At some point during his incarceration, he obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate which stated that he was legally a woman.  You can read about the process of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate on Can a male really become a woman?.  At that time the criteria for moving males into the female estate was having had ‘reassignment surgery’. Jones/Lawson had not had this surgery and was prevented from obtaining it until he had ‘lived as a woman’ for two years, something which it was decided would only be possible in a women’s prison.  He brought a legal case, won the right to be transferred to a women’s prison and established the criteria for admission to the female estate as possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate.  He later had the ‘reassignment’ surgery that he claimed was the motivation for his violent and terrifying crimes and was later released.  He changed his name to Karen Jones (Emily Hall & James Fielding, MailOnline, 27 February 2018).  You can read more about the changing criteria for males being housed in women’s prisons on A brief history of men in women's prisons and more about the Jones legal case at @StillTISH Gender Abolition

In 2018, the Daily Mail reported that Jones had been invited by Lord Patel, Chairman of the Community Innovations Enterprise, to address a reception at the House of Lords to launch the review, Inside Gender Identity: A Report on meeting Health and Social Needs of Transgender People in the Criminal Justice System.  Lord Patel was fully aware of the full nature of his crimes (Emily Hall & James Fielding, MailOnline, 27 February 2018).