I was chatting to a friend the other day. Ever since I confessed to being a gender heretic with the dangerous belief that penis is male, he thinks I’m some sort of Clarkson/Hopkins hybrid, but we still managed to go for a pint, whereupon he brought the subject up once more. I’d said that males should not be allowed into women’s refuges; it’s vital to protect single-sex, female-only services. But surely, he said, displaying a concern for transgender people I’d never seen him display for women, a transwoman asking for a place in a women’s refuge is a DV victim and has a genuine need for safety?
Leaving aside the likes of Christopher Hambrook, he’s quite right. I want all trans people who are being abused (most likely abused by a man) to have the safety and help they urgently need.
Before I address the question of how to meet that need, let me tell you about another friend of mine, a woman who had to spend months in a refuge with her daughters. She’s since divorced her abusive husband, and is is putting her life back together. A safe place to go was a vital part of that process. One heartbreaking thing she still has to deal with is the fact that her daughters have learned at too young an age (if only no girl ever had to learn this, at any age) exactly what a manipulative and controlling man is capable of. Lies, mind games, gaslighting.
Luckily my friend didn’t have to share her refuge with a male. She didn’t have to explain the presence of a male to her daughters, she didn’t have to reassure them that their abusive, manipulative father couldn’t enter the place, and she didn’t have to answer their inevitable question: ‘But this man is here, how can we be sure?’
Domestic violence and abuse destroys lives. The majority of DV victims are women and the majority of perpetrators are men. This does not mean that trans people and men are not also being abused. Trans people who are victims of DV need safety and refuge. They need help and support.
It has to be the right support, and it must not negatively impact upon women and children who are victims of DV.
Specialist DV services for transgender people and men do exist, but they are not widespread. It seems that the transgender movement is more concerned with pushing to give transwomen access to women’s DV refuges and support services than on creating more widely available specialist services for trans people.
The thing is, women’s services aren’t coping with the demand as it is. Sunderland is about to become the first city in the UK without a single DV refuge. They don’t have any money. In every society on Earth, women have far fewer resources than men – a great big reason why we need feminism. Women are absolutely the wrong people to be looking to for help.
Women’s refuges only exist due to the pioneering feminists who set them up on the 1970s. Despite the hard, hard work and dedication of women ever since, refuges have rarely enjoyed financial security and there are no guarantees for the future.
They’re not a great bet for anyone looking for the resources to set up new and specialist services for vulnerable people. Hardly any money, hardly any power or influence.
Now here’s the good news! Many well-known figures in the transgender movement are enormously wealthy. Rich! Famous! Influential!
I’ve done a quick list. (Sorry, they’re all transwomen for some reason. What was that again about division of resources between women and men? Seems weirdly reversed in the transgender community. Hmmm). Any one of these ladies could whip out a gold-edged chequebook and get a new service off the ground, employing trans professionals to help trans people. After all, transgender people are the experts on transgender people.
Caitlyn Jenner – famous, minted!
Laverne Cox – famous, minted!
Jennifer Pritzker – actual bona fide billionaire!
Martine Rothblatt – ‘highest paid female CEO!’ (sic)
OK, they’re all American but the UK’s own Kellie Maloney has probably got a few quid. Ah. There is the unfortunate fact that Maloney himself is a DV perpetrator. Here, as so many abusers do, he excuses himself due to ‘pressure’.
This is a serious subject. There is some serious money around which could be used to help those who need it. Feminists and women who need DV services are not the ones holding the purse strings. They’re not the ones with the ear of legislators and the media. Women had to help themselves, and now they’re fighting just to hold on. The transgender community has the resources to help its most vulnerable members, and my hope is that it will use them to do so, instead of making the fight even harder for women.