This is a question worth asking when any changes to policy/law takes place but this week Women’s Aid announced that their board will be reviewing a long term policy to potentially allow male bodied people (transgender/ males with penis in tact and no GRC) to work as staff in refuges.
Now on the surface without consideration this may seem a decent move, progressive, allied but with deliberation of individual issue’s, you will get an understanding of why this is a controversial and dangerous move for women fleeing abuse.
Some facts might help to start with, in England and Wales the law is specific with it’s definition of rape, only men (penetration of in tact penis) can rape, everything else is sexual assault to varying degrees. Regardless what you think, this is what we have in place right now.
I believe that every decision that will impact women and children who are resident in refuges, must be for the beneift of those residents. So it leaves me confused as to who this decision benefits most. A male bodied person who wishes to refer to themselves as other than male comes with the demand and expectation which falls on women and children to validate the staff member’s reality. This is particularly insideous considering the level of trauma these residents have endured, some have escaped murder, rape, assault, stalking, honour violence, religious abuse, coercive controled abuse and emotional abuse which is liken to brainwashing. So going back to the demand that will be made on residents to validate an alternative reality, this is highly abusive and has a huge potential for secondary trauma, we also must consider the potential for residents to have to live in a state of fear and return to coping strategies to ensure survival such as ‘people pleasing’ this must be seen as a problem. Those behaviours, whether initiated by staff or not could be dangerous for everyone involved, these behaviours could see residents harmed physically/financially/sexually by staff.
The jump resonses must cease if this is to be approached properly, not all men, men are victims too, what about women who abuse and TW are women are completely irrelevant to this focused issue. The people who MUST come first before and above anyone else including staff are those women and children who have been through hell.
There are more points to make and I will come back to make them but these are the points I wanted to focus on since it’s the least talked about.
There is no part of allowing male bodied staff in refuge which will serve women and children fleeing male violence.
I wish Womens Aid and Refuge well, this isn’t an easy topic to deliberate but I urge them to maintain the policy which was enstated decades ago for particular reasons to ensure the safety (physical/emotional) of victims in refuge