The Use of Language
How language is used to refer to male crime and male offenders is very important. At Keep Prisons Single Sex we believe that language should be used clearly throughout the Criminal Justice System so that male crime and male offenders can be clearly identified as such and not ‘hidden’ as a crime that has been committed by a woman.
However, language is rarely used accurately…
In the Media
Males who commit crimes are routinely reported using female pronouns, their female name and as women in the media. There are many examples of this, here are a few:
A 2018 attack on a man at Leicester Square tube station was described as an attack by a gang of women. The attackers were in fact male.
In this example, although his male name Callum Hughes is used, he is described as a daughter and as a woman who attacked her parents.
In other cases, the male is referred to as a ‘transgender woman’ instead of being referred to as a man. Their male name may or may not be used as well as their ‘female name’. Female pronouns are usually used instead of male.
In this example Andre Kirlew is described as a transgender woman. His female name Allahra Aziz is used as well as female pronouns.
In this example Mark Walker is reported to be a transgender paedophile who is living as a woman in a male prison. The ‘female name’ Marcia Walker is used & female pronouns.
In this example, Craig Hauxwell went on the run after being convicted of two rapes of children and seven counts of indecent assault. The press reported him as being a woman who may be dressed as a man and BBC Crimewatch described the crimes as having been committed both by a man and by a woman. Later, Hauxwell made an appearance in an article appearing in the Daily Telegraph entitled The Truth About Female Sex Offenders.
Why does it matter when male crime is reported in the media as female crime?
The most basic reason why it matters, is that reporting male crime as female crime tells a lie. A woman did not commit that crime. A male did. This lie conceals male crime, by presenting it as crime committed by a woman.
The majority of these reports are of very serious violent or sexual offences, offence categories which are overwhelmingly committed by men. When men committing crimes are reported in the media as women it conditions us to accept that these people are women. Reporting these as committed by women distorts our thinking and primes us to accept that women are ‘as much of a danger as men’ and that women ‘do this just as much as men do’. We’re not and we don’t.
We know that men pose a greater risk to women and children than women. The data on the risks are clear and provide a strong reason for single-sex spaces for women and girls. Where women are presented as just as violent as men, as just as much of a risk to children and to women, this need for single-sex spaces is undermined.
Messages are powerful and have a strong subliminal impact. Who does the drip-drip effect of repeatedly reading that these paedophiles, rapists, murderers, sexual offenders are women benefit? It doesn’t benefit women and it doesn’t benefit children.
You can read more about the power of language in this piece by Barra Kerr, Pronouns are Rohypnol, which we reproduce on this website, with the author's permission.
By the Police
Throughout the Criminal Justice System, males are routinely referred to as women and by female pronouns. We’ll begin by looking at the police.
The police have reported males wanted on suspicion of having committed crimes as being women. In this example, Lee Baker who was convicted of harassment, stalking and breaching a restraining order was described by Avon and Somerset Police as ‘missing woman Tiffany Aching’.
In this example, both media and Merseyside Police referred to a man who was arrested after attacking a teenage girl with a hammer as a woman called Carol Lea.
The police have also reported males convicted of crimes as being women. Here, the crime committed by Gary Cooper was reported by Hertfordshire Constabulary as having been committed by a woman. The female name Carrie was used as well as female pronouns.
Statements by the police immediately after trial have been similarly misleading. For example, Paul Long was convicted of eight sexual offences against two children under the age of ten. After the trial DC Youdon gave this statement: 'Long terrorised these children for her own sexual gratification. She was a bully and a monster to them and it’s good that she’s now behind bars where she can’t cause any further harm.'
Why does it matter when male crime is reported as female crime by the police?
When the police report male crime as having been committed by a woman it matters for the same reasons that it does when the media does it: it tells a lie and where the offence category is one overwhelming committed by men, the lie conditions us to rethink our understanding of risk. Male crime is hidden by being presented as having been committed by women.
We expect the police to be neutral and to have no political agenda, so arguably police reports have more weight than media reports. We expect them to be factual. When the police issue a statement to find a missing person who is wanted on suspicion of committing an offence it is vital that the information given to the public is accurate. Putting out false information, that the missing person is a woman, when it is a male who is wanted, actively obstructs the chances this male will be identified.
During Court Proceedings
The Equal Treatment Bench Book is guidance aimed at helping make the court experience more accessible. The intent is to increase awareness and understanding of the different circumstances of people appearing in courts and tribunals. The purpose of the guidance is to help enable effective communication and the guide suggests steps which should increase participation by all parties.
Chapter 12 concerns transgender people. Here the guidance states that pronouns and chosen names should be respected, regardless of whether or not the individual has a GRC. The guidance states that it is usually possible to accept an individual’s stated gender identity for court and tribunal purposes without the need for further inquiry. The term ‘cisgender' is explained as a way to refer to ‘non trans’ people.
In line with this, female pronouns are consistently used during trials, by defence, prosecution, Judge and witnesses. This includes during trials for sexual offences.
This example is of ‘Kira Leverton’ who was convicted of possession of images of child sexual abuse and of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
In this example, convicted child-rapist Christopher Lewis/Mark Turton was on trial for breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order. Going by the female name Kristen Lukess, he was referred to in court as ‘she’ and ‘her’.
‘Louise Emma Croft’ was convicted of sexually assaulting a man. In his witness statement, his victim used female pronouns.
Victims have been instructed by the Judge to refer to their male attacker as ‘she’. When Tanis Woolf was tried for assault by beating of a 60-year old woman, the woman was instructed by Judge Kenneth Grant to refer to Wolf as ‘she’ and was accused of ‘bad grace’ when she expressed her quite reasonable reluctance.
Why does it matter when males are referred to as female in court?
When courts refer to males on trial as women and use female pronouns and names, as before, it tells a lie that hides male crime and conditions us to accept certain things as fact. As with the police, we expect courts to be neutral and to have no political agenda, so when courts refer to male criminals as females, arguably it has greater impact.
Referring to males on trial as women gaslights victims and witnesses. This is particularly evident when they are instructed that the evidence they give must be ‘respectful of pronouns and chosen gender identity’. We know that victims of violent and sexual offences have been compelled to use female pronouns to refer to their attackers. We also know that males convicted of sexual offences against children have been referred to at trial as female. Are there limits on who can be compelled to describe their male attacker as a woman?
The MoJ & HMPPS Policy Framework The Care and Management of Individuals who are Transgender states that female names and pronouns must be respected for all trans prisoners, including those who do not have a GRC. This means that all males who ‘identify as women’ can insist on being called ‘she’ and ‘her’ and by their chosen female name, including in front of the women they are imprisoned with.
Why does it matter if male prisoners are referred to as female in prison?
As we discussed in Women in Prison, most women in prison have history of violence and abuse at the hands of men. This is often from childhood and often from males who should have loved them. Many will have been raped, sexually abused and prostituted. There are high rates of mental health problems and of both self harm and suicide.
Consider the impact on these women of being imprisoned with a male and hearing him referred to as a woman. Consider the impact of this gaslighting on these highly vulnerable women.
It is not just women prisoners who are affected. Female prison officers are also affected. As we discussed on Searching transgender prisoners, according to the searching protocols for transgender prisoners, males with a GRC must be strip-searched by female officers, according to the protocol for searching female prisoners. His anatomy is an irrelevance. Consider the impact on female prison officers who are compelled to strip-search males with unaltered and fully intact bodies and who must refer to them as women whilst conducting the search.
We do not believe this serves the interests of women at all. We believe that this use of language is, in many cases, actively harmful. We believe that presenting male crime as having been committed by women is a harmful deception. We believe that victims of crime and witnesses to crime should not be gaslit through the incorrect use of language. We call for accurate language to be used in media reports, and throughout the Criminal Justice System.
Jo Bartosch discusses why language matters in 'Why are we protecting the feelings of rapists?'