Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) released a statement regarding his approach to transgender women in women’s prisons and toilets on Wednesday (8th September), labelling the issue as “a matter of public security and not inclusiveness”.
Philip Wilkinson OBE released the statement on his Facebook page.
Love Salisbury spoke to the city’s transgender residents and allies to hear their thoughts.
Louise Dance, a transgender woman from Salisbury, has successfully been transitioning for five years. Reacting to Philip Wilkinson’s statement she said:
“You have two people in positions of power saying these things about trans folk and it is frightening. When someone has spent years and years transitioning all of the sudden to be told that your rights could be taken away, and not being able to use a toilet like anyone else – it is a very daunting thing to think about.
“They say a lot of trans people are a threat to women, but trans are at risk from cisgender people because of the stigma that we have had for decades.
“The police commissioner has probably never met a trans person before. I would say to him to keep an open mind and to try and actually sit down with these people and listen to their worries and concerns. It’s not just black and white, our lives are not political, and it shouldn’t be a religious issue. We are struggling as it is. They say it is a health and safety issue, but what about our health and safety?”
Cllr Caroline Corbin, the Mayor of Salisbury, Salisbury Pride coordinator and an LGBTQ+ ally said:
“It is interesting that everyone gets tied up in the perceived transgender threat in all women’s prisons. Sexual assaults occur in both male and female facilities amongst self-identified ‘heterosexual’ inmates, as well as those from the LGBTQIA+ communities.
“I think the incidents of assault by trans prisoners are less than assaults against trans prisoners.
“I think perceived ideologies which are often mentioned need to be recognised as something which needs to be dealt with sensitively; but I fail to see how the safety of a human who has been reassigned to a gender which they are more comfortable with is safer if they are sent to a facility which is for their gender of birth. That makes their position far more vulnerable.”
Ben Blackmore-Court, a trans ally and member of the LGBTQ community said he was appalled by the comments made by Philip Wilkinson about trans issues.
“I know from my experiences with the Trans community that the road to transition is long, difficult and pitted with gatekeepers, bigots, red tape and sorely underfunded. Many do not make it through the journey due to the challenges posed by narrow-minded people like Philip. That he made light of it on social media before making his statement on social media speaks volumes about how inflammatory and bigoted his views are.
“People do not set out on a life-altering, liberating journey of transition to ‘dupe’ people into dangerous situations. The statistics of violence, sexual assault, suicide and abuse against the Trans community speak for themselves. We should be supporting their journey wherever we can, not knocking them down over something as basic as where they empty their bladder.
“Trans people exist. Fact. Trans people matter. Fact. Trans safety matters. Fact”.
Helen Belcher, a trans woman and Wiltshire Councillor for Corsham, told Love Salisbury that hate crime against trans people has increased enormously over the last few years.
“Statistics show that trans women are very likely to be the victims of crime. As such it is extremely important that they can trust the police. I have had reason to call on Wiltshire Police twice in the last two years. I would like to ensure that I can still trust the police to act appropriately and without discrimination when I need them.
“When the Police Commissioner makes a statement that accuses trans women of being dangerous simply because they are trans, and shows that he clearly does not understand the law, then he is destroying trust in the service he is responsible for, and placing trans women at risk of even more danger.”
Helen further told us that she has emailed Philip asking to meet with him.
“While the leader of Wiltshire Council replied very quickly to my email. So far, Mr Wilkinson has not replied,” she added.