Baroness slams Prison Service for telling staff that phrase ‘actual woman’ is transphobic

Baroness slams Prison Service for telling staff that phrases ‘actual woman’ and ‘adult human female’ are transphobic and ‘dehumanise’ transgender people

  • Lady Nicholson condemned document which describes ‘transphobic phrases’
  • The HMP Prisons document says the language ‘dehumanises’ trans people  
  • Lady Nicholson wrote to Home Secretary Suella Braverman to express concerns 
  • She urged MPs to take action against ‘subversion’ from pro-transgender groups

A Ministry of Justice pro-transgender document has been slammed and branded ‘insidious bullying’ by a member of the House of Lords.

Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne condemned a paper called ‘Recognising Transphobic Coded Language’, describing it as ‘hostile, intimidating and probably unlawful’ in letters to ministers. 

The document, published on the HMP Prison and Probationary Service (HMPPS) website, outlines a glossary of phrases deemed to be transphobic, including ‘actual/real woman’ and ‘adult human female.’

The document argues that use of these terms is ‘dehumanising’ to transgender people as it ‘others’ them. 

The leaflet was emailed to thousands of officials through the HMPPS diversity and inclusion team ahead of transgender awareness week, The Sunday Telegraph reported.  

Lady Nicholson has written stern letters to Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch.

The Baroness, who was elevated to the House of Lords in 1997, said the document amounted to 'insidious bullying' and took a swipe at Sir Gavin Williamson for failing to act

The Baroness, who was elevated to the House of Lords in 1997, said the document amounted to ‘insidious bullying’ and took a swipe at Sir Gavin Williamson for failing to act

In the letters, she urged the MPs to take action against what she terms ‘subversion’ from pro-transgender groups.

She wrote: ‘I shall not rehearse the myriad problems with the words and phrases it seeks to proscribe and their associated interpretations as they are self-evident.

‘Rather I seek to draw your attention to the insidious bullying inherent in a document which implies that the use of an expression such as ‘protecting women and girls’ might be an act of misconduct.’

She went on to decry what she termed the ‘wider issue’ of pro-trans agendas implemented in institutions across the country.

‘Hospitals, police forces, schools and universities are awash with transgender dominated staff groupings demanding “trans allyship” in as official a manner as they can manage whilst suggesting anyone who demurs is a bigot or worse.

‘This partisan political propagandising has been allowed to run riot while we have all been chilled into ‘being nice’ by activists who insist lesbians date women with penises,’ the Baroness said. 

‘This cannot be allowed to continue. It is hostile, intimidating and probably unlawful.’

The outspoken Baroness also took a swipe at former Minister Sir Gavin Williamson for giving ‘a wonderful soundbite’ in promising action on the matter but failing to follow through.

She signed off both letters with: ‘I look forward to hearing how you will tackle what is effectively subversion.’

The document says that while use of the phrases might not be misconduct, 'the importance of challenging their use cannot be overstated'

The document says that while use of the phrases might not be misconduct, ‘the importance of challenging their use cannot be overstated’

The government document she references gives examples of phrases deemed to be transphobic, alongside several paragraphs of explanation for each word or term.

One phrase, ‘actual/real woman’, is said to be dehumanising to transgender individuals and to invalidate their existence by suggesting they are not really women.  

The document describes the use of this phrase as ‘deeply upsetting, offensive’ and says it ‘undermines self-esteem and confidence’.  

It goes on to brand the phrase ‘deeply misogynistic’ before adding a link to an opinion piece from a Canadian publication about two female athletes who were questioned on their eligibility to compete due to unusually high amounts of testosterone.

The document says the use of the term ‘adult human female’  signals exclusionary attitudes towards trans women. 

It adds that anti-trans groups use the term to manipulate ‘people into supporting bigotry while creating hostility towards trans people and their allies.’ 

Passing uses of the phrases may not be considered misconduct, the document states, but ‘the importance of challenging their use cannot be overstated.’ 

The prison population that identifies as being transgender increased by 21% from 163 to 197 between 2019 and 2020. Social media users praised the Baroness, with one describing her as 'a ray of hope'

The prison population that identifies as being transgender increased by 21% from 163 to 197 between 2019 and 2020. Social media users praised the Baroness, with one describing her as ‘a ray of hope’

An MoJ staff member told the Telegraph: ‘When I first read the attachment in the email, I could not quite believe it – the worst thing was that I was unable to raise it safely at work for fear of being labelled a transphobe.

‘It came across as very aggressive and antagonistic towards anyone who believes in biological reality. I feel upset and powerless.’

The prison population that identifies as being transgender increased by 21% from 163 to 197 between 2019 and 2020.

Baroness Nicholson’s letters were applauded by supportive social media users.

Robin Goldsmith said: ‘Well done for standing up against this socially destructive, ideological nonsense.’

Another said: ‘Thank you as ever. You are like a ray of hope in the darkness.’

A third said: ‘That’s blistering. Well said. I’d say something stronger than aloe vera gel is required for those burns.’  

A Prison Service spokesman said: ‘This guidebook was published by a staff network, its content was not approved prior to being communicated and it is a network rather than a corporate HMPPS view.

‘Following its publication, HMPPS is reviewing the rules around internal communications to staff from network groups.’

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