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Artillery Row

Gender misinformation

Ireland’s torturous, ideological administration is where truth goes to die, and vulnerable women are paying the price

Last month the Irish Prison Service published its 2022 Annual Report on the same day as Minister for Justice Helen McEntee opened the long awaited new women’s prison in the city of Limerick. The figures show that the number of women who have been imprisoned for sex offences appears to have doubled in the last two years.

The numbers ranged from zero (in five of these years) to 2 between 2007 and 2020 but jumped to four in 2021 and five in 2022. 

There were three men with Gender Recognition Certificates (GRCs) in Limerick women’s prison in 2021. In February of this year the then acting Minister for Justice said that the only two transgender prisoners in a women’s prison were both sex offenders. (Until recently that is, when one of these prisoners was moved into Limerick men’s prison – despite holding a GRC – after reports that he had threatened to rape female prison officers.) In March of this year the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said he believed violent biological males should not be put into women’s prisons.   

The Irish Prison Service says that “All prisoners committed are accommodated in accordance with their legal gender, therefore transgender females with a recognised gender recognition certificate would be counted as females in the 2022 Annual Report.” The IPS annual report says 5,171 male and 630 female prisoners were in prison in 2022 but at least two of these “females” clearly were male. 

So it appears that our prison statistics are being distorted by the effects of the 2015 Gender Recognition Act. This surely has implications for the credibility of statistics, for public policy planning and not least will misinform the public. It’s a particularly cruel distortion of reality for women, given that 83% of the victims of reported incidents of sexual offences in 2022 were female, to have sexual offences attributed to “women” who are in fact male. 

The Central Statistics Office publishes crime statistics that only use the terms “male” and “female” and rely on data providers to accurately record this information before sending the data to the CSO. (The CSO currently only publishes two statistical releases based on Irish Prison Service data; reoffending statistics, and social circumstances of people linked to justice sanctions.) The CSO figure for suspected offenders of rape and sexual assault in 2021 is seven females.

However despite the fact that EU legislation required Ireland to collect the numbers of each sex in the latest Census of 2022 the CSO bowed to the pressure of gender ideology and said for the question as to one’s sex: “If you are uncomfortable ticking one of these options you may signal this by marking both boxes,” adding “However, for statistical analysis purposes all entries will be assigned a sex, where this is not clearly indicated on a Census form it will be assigned at random.” Although there is a legal obligation to complete the Census clearly the accompanying warning that anyone “who knowingly provides false information may be subject to a fine of up to €44,440” clearly didn’t seem to apply to this question.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust appears uninterested in the issue of men being counted as women in our prison statistics, even as it commented on the rise in the number of women prisoners in its press statement last month. Asked to comment on the apparent doubling of the number of women sex offenders in our prisons the IPRT didn’t respond.

One former prisoner who’s been held in both the Dóchas women’s prison in Dublin and the former Limerick women’s prison is a man who assaulted a woman in a women’s hostel and received a three month suspended sentence in September. Dublin City Council says that the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) “is currently reviewing policies and practices in providing homeless supports [sic] to transgender individuals and staff have undertaken training with the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)”.   

A Freedom of Information response reveals that €500 was paid to TENI for a “Transgender Awareness training session” late last year. This training was provided by a member of TENI’s staff who holds a master’s degree in equality studies. 

The same week as the Irish Prison Service released its 2022 annual report saw the conclusion of the brief Public Consultation held by the Government’s new National Counter Disinformation Strategy Working Group

In a press release announcing the working group in February of this year the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin said that: “We know that disinformation is complex and damaging.” The establishment of the Working Group arises from a recommendation in The Future of Media Commission report, which called for “a more coordinated and strategic approach to combat the damaging impact of disinformation on Irish society and democracy.

One of the members of the Working Group’s subgroups is the London based Institute for Strategic Dialogue.  The ISD is currently engaged in producing a €129,997.70 “Uisce Faoi Thalamh: An Investigation into online disinformation in Ireland” with CASM Technology LLP (UK) funded by the European Media and Information Fund, which itself has fund partners in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the European University Institute and Google as a donor. This appears to be the report which prompted the ISD to say it planned to reference the website Women’s Space Ireland as part of the “online mis-and disinformation ecosystem in Ireland.”

As an indication of what the ISD counts as “mis or disinformation” it cites a tweet which “referred to Lia Thomas, a trans woman, as ‘a man’. Misgendering fits into ISD’s framework under the use of hateful mis- or disinformation narratives to describe and/or target the LGBTQ+ community.” It could be argued that calling the US transgender swimmer Lia Thomas as anything other than a man is “misgendering” and should be regarded as “mis and disinformation” by the ISD. The ISD has since said it will remove Women’s Space Ireland from its report.

Could a better example of disinformation be found?

Irish women already fear that under the draconian Criminal Justice (Incitement to Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 currently before the Seanad (upper house) the act of calling a man a man, instead of the “woman” he might like to be seen as, may risk a criminal prosecution. Meanwhile, the Irish state’s continued misrepresentation of the sex of imprisoned sex offenders doesn’t appear to cause any problems.

Indeed when the Irish Government passed the 2015 Gender Recognition Act, which allows individuals to “self-id” as the “preferred gender”, the Act went further. It states that once in possession of a GRC: “if the preferred gender is the male gender the person’s sex becomes that of a man, and if it is the female gender the person’s sex becomes that of a woman.” 

Could a better example of disinformation be found?

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