• anonymous woman

I used to volunteer at a centre for women who were vulnerable to committing crime. Each women was assigned to a case worker who supported them, and from the centre they could access counselling, help with addictions, life skills support etc. It was a much-needed but desperately underfunded project, which was oversubscribed. It was also trans[women]-inclusive, with the threat of funding being withdrawn if it were not. There were two trans-identified males in regular attendance. One in particular was very loud and flirted with the other women; his deep voice could be heard echoing down the corridor when group therapy sessions were taking place. I once overheard him lament the fact that women no longer wanted to date him now that he was transitioning and had become ‘a lesbian’. The other trans person was very quiet and serious, and about 6ft 5 in heels and physically intimidating. I acted dumb and queried with some of the caseworkers: why were there men here? They looked nervous, and quickly closed the office door. Then they told me that they agree, but were not allowed to challenge the inclusion of trans-identified males, and are forced to pretend that they are women. They told me that it was having a very negative impact on the service. Some of the clients were angry about the inclusion of males and had stopped attending. These were very vulnerable women with histories of domestic and sexual violence, prostitution and addictions; women with complex needs who very much needed a female-only service. In many cases, the women’s social workers had spent months persuading them to attend the service. The fact that it was women-only was of vital importance to these women and to their ability to heal from trauma and get their lives together. They felt lied-to and gaslit by the inclusion of males, and the insistence that they must regard these males as women. It was traumatising for them - the very people who the service was for! But when the caseworkers raised these concerns they were told that these men ARE women, and were sent on ‘Inclusion and diversity training’. Women are socialised to be on-guard against male violence and spend our whole lives accommodating to it. We are blamed for taking risks that expose us to it. And yet these survivors of male violence were supposed to be unaffected by the presence of males! Regardless of how someone presents or identifies, the ‘reptilian’ part of a women’s brain knows who is male and responds accordingly. How could it not do! And yet if a male plumber or IT worker needed to enter the centre, there were strict rules in place that this had to be outside of office hours when no clients would be present - in order to avoid traumatising the vulnerable female clientele!

#centreforwomen #vulnerablewomen #supportcentre #malesocialisation