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Trans Woman Found Dead in Male Prison

$$-Vicky-Thompson

Vicky Thompson

Prisoner had threatened suicide.

On Friday, 13 November 2015, trans woman Vicky Thompson was found dead in her cell at the all-male Armley Prison in Leeds, England, having apparently committed suicide. Her Majesty’s Prison Service (which runs prisons in England and Wales) announced her death six days later, on the evening of Thursday, 19 November, only hours before the start of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

“HMP Leeds prisoner Vicky Thompson was found unresponsive on the evening of Friday, 13 November,” said a Prison Service spokesman, “Staff and paramedics attempted resuscitation but she was pronounced dead at 21:10 GMT. As with all deaths in custody there will be an investigation by the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman”.

Vicky, who had identified as female since her early teens but had not undergone gender reassignment surgery, had previously been incarcerated in Her Majesty’s Prison Leeds on a 12 month sentence, which had been reduced to a suspended sentence.  But when she broke the conditions of that, imprisonment was invoked. According to her boyfriend, Robert Steele, she had received harassment and bullying from the other prisoners, because she dressed as a female. Vicky had said that if she were returned to HMP Leeds, she would commit suicide. Her solicitor, Mohammed Hussain, had told the trial judge that Vicky Thompson was “essentially a woman”, that she was a vulnerable person, and pleaded for her to be placed in a women’s prison. Those pleas fell on deaf ears, and she was returned to HMP Leeds.

Vicky Thompson was only 21 when she took her own life.

I am not just angry today, I am FUCKING LIVID with rage. This girl’s death comes only weeks after the case of trans woman Tara Hudson, whom it took a public campaign to be moved from all-male HMP Bristol to a women’s prison. It is all too obvious that the Prison Service and the British government learned NOTHING from that case, and with tragic consequences.

I do not hold out many hopes for the investigation into Vicky’s death either. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman service will look into it from the perspective of cisgender privilege and no doubt shall decide that it was ‘tragic’ but ‘unavoidable’. When the English judiciary were petitioned to move Tara Hudson to a female prison, they immediately washed their hands of the matter and claimed that it was the responsibility of the Prison Service which prisons offenders should be allocated to. I have no doubt the so-called ‘independent’ ombudsman will reach the same conclusion. This is so much shifting the blame BULLSHIT.

Yes, Her Majesty’s Prison Service, just like the Scottish Prison Service, decide which correctional establishments to place convicted offenders in. However, it is part of the responsibilities of the judiciary to consider particular circumstances of each offender, and where it is deemed necessary to make recommendations to the Prison Service based upon those circumstances. That is precisely why Vicky Thompson’s solicitor underlined her vulnerability and asked for her to be placed in a female prison. The judge, whose name has not been disclosed, cannot claim that they were not made aware of the special circumstances surrounding Vicky, which he completely failed to act upon.

But the judge was not the only person to fail Vicky. Questions also need to be asked as to why the Prison Service managed to fail a vulnerable prisoner, under their very own guidelines, under not one but two circumstances. In the Tara Hudson case, a BBC spokesman told the BBC “It is longstanding policy to place offenders according to their legally recognised gender. There are strict rules in place to ensure transsexual prisoners are managed safely and in accordance with the law.” Vicky Thompson had previously complained of harassment and bullying from other prisoners, which proves that HMP Leeds failed upon that commitment. Secondly, Vicky was a known suicide risk, and yet somehow managed to take her own life. How was this able to happen? Why was a vulnerable prison apparently not on suicide watch? HMP Leeds therefore failed in their duties on that count as well.

As to the first criteria, that of recognised gender, the Prison Service cannot claim to know that Vicky identified as a woman, and if they even attempt that, then they will immediately make liars of themselves, for their statement announcing her death gave her name as “Vicky Thompson” – her chosen female name – and referred to her as “she”. We likewise know that she wore ‘female’ clothing in the prison. So, they have already identified Vicky as female. But then, one only need look at photographs of Vicky to tell she was a woman. Watch out for denials based on all the above in the forthcoming whitewash, sorry, I mean investigation.

It has been announced that the government is to review the criteria under which transgender offenders are jailed. It is not before time, but unless the current Conservative government, which does not have one transgender Member of Parliament, takes strong advice from the transgender community, then I do not hold out much hope for that either.

Certainly, the current criteria surrounding the imprisonment of transgender offenders is an absurdity and a bureaucratic trap, which far too many fall into. The current rules only recognise gender by biological basis and whether or not a prisoner has undergone gender reassignment surgery, and if so, they can prove that.

The rules state that if a transgender prisoner carries a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) or an altered birth certificate, then they shall be placed in a prison according to their recognised gender. Where no GRC is available, gender is determined by birth certificate.

Herein lie the problems. For a start a birth certificate can only be changed if the person has a GRC. Tara Hudson had undergone reassignment but did not carry a GRC. Therefore, as her birth certificate stated she was born male, despite having fully-formed breasts and female genitalia, she was placed in male prison.

GRCs are available, for a fee, only to transgender people who have undergone gender reassignment and lived under their chosen gender for two years or more. This of course requires the release of certain medical records to prove they have undergone reassignment and when. Many transgender people are against GRCs as they see them as governmental intrusion into their private lives and a “trans tax”. If you are cisgender and do not see a problem with GRCs, consider how you would feel if you had to release your medical records and pay to prove your gender. Then (hopefully) you will see how these rules single out one of the most maligned, misunderstood, and vulnerable sections of society, effectively coercing them – and only them – to carry “identity papers”, and pay for that to boot. The GRC is an insult to the transgender community.

Now, let’s look at Vicky Thompson in relation to those rules. She was 21 when she took her life, so given the slow bureaucracy of the English judicial system, we can safely assume she was at least 20 years old when first convicted. Gender reassignment surgery in England is only available for adults over 18 years of age. Before surgery is decided and carried out, there are several steps a transgender person has to go through, including years of psychotherapy, counselling, reviews, then hormonal treatment. In short, Vicky at 20 years old simply would not have had the time to have had the above steps, then undergo gender reassignment surgery and then wait the two years to obtain a GRC. We see here how the GRC rule puts transgender young offenders and older teenagers / early 20s at a distinct disadvantage.

Not that the present government would ever take advice from a slightly-to-the-left-of-Leon-Trotsky genderqueer pansexual like myself, but the recommendations on transgender offenders seems simple enough to me. Gender is not about what may or may not be dangling between your legs. If someone identifies as a woman, dresses like a woman, looks like a woman, and has done for years, they are a woman, and the opposite of all the above for transgender men. If something looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, you can be fairly sure it’s not a fucking ostrich. That is the only criteria any prisoner, transgender or cisgender, needs to be categorised by.

Until the government wakes up to that, there are going to be more cases of trangender prisoners placed in the wrong environment, and thereby put in a place of danger both from other prisoners and themselves.

As it is, suicide is a terrible thing for anyone to do. I don’t think it’s the “coward’s way out”. Far from it, I think anyone who takes their own life has to be very brave indeed to take that step. I therefore do not nor cannot condemn a 21 year old girl, driven to despair after everybody in authority ignored her, to end it all.

No, I don’t blame Vicky Thompson for her own death.

I BLAME the staff of HMP Leeds.
I BLAME Her Majesty’s Prison Service.
I BLAME the judge who ignored all advice.
I BLAME the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP.
I BLAME the British Prime Minister, David Cameron MP.

YOU ALL FAILED VICKY THOMPSON. YOU ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR HER DEATH.

GO DOWN YOU MURDERERS. GO DOWN!

Dreams we Conceive

Nothing to do with being a crossdresser or trans, but it could almost be when you consider the lyrics.  We truly are the forbidden and unforgiven who keep our wounds hidden from view.

And of course it is just beautiful.

In a city after midnight,
‘neath the halo of a street light,
where the dreams die,
as the blood dries,
of the wounds we keep hidden from view.

In the safety of this darkness,
as it hides all time has tarnished.
The forbidden, unforgiven,
are secure here where no-one pursues.

But the night fades away,
and gives way to the day.
What else is the night to do?
As the dark steps aside,
with the hopes we confide,
and never believe that the dreams we conceive
could ever not ever come true.

Is life different after midnight,
with it’s new dawn, and it’s new light?
Inconsistent and indifferent,

to the things we were so sure we knew.

As you stood there, in the night air,
with such beauty; let the stars stare,
from their distance; you were different,
like a dream that no-one could refuse.

But the night fades away,
and gives way to the day.
What else is the night to do?
As the dark steps aside,
with the hopes we confide,
and never believe that the dreams we conceive
could ever not ever come true.

As you stand all alone at your station,
what if God doesn’t know where you are?
As you send out your prayers for salvation,
but afraid that they don’t go that far.

So you wait all alone in your darkness,
and there’s a train that drives on through the night.
And if everyone’s on it except us,
would it return for that single life?

In a city, after midnight,
‘neath the halo of a street light.

I post this for every crossdresser and trans woman who is in hiding tonight.

Black officer who helped KKK supporter says policing is helping people ‘regardless of beliefs’

SC police chief shows the true way to combat hate – with kindness.

“An eye for an eye only leaves the world blind.” (Gandhi)

Kindness Blog

Black officer who helped KKK supporter As hatred and racial intolerance engulfed a South Carolina rally over the weekend, a poignant picture of a black police chief helping a man who was wearing a swastika T-shirt emerged on Twitter.

The sick man, according to reports, had suffered from heatstroke and was being helped by Leroy Smith, the director of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Black officer who helped KKK supporter The powerful photo, captured by Twitter userRob Godfrey, shows police officer Leroy Smith helping the unidentified KKK supporter out of the sun

Smith’s display of love and humanity in the face of hatred went viral, already getting retweeted thousands of times in the course of a single day.

Leroy Smith said in a statement that the photo, taken at a Ku Klux Klan rally, captured “who we are in South Carolina” and represents what law enforcement is all about: helping people “regardless of the person’s skin color, nationality…

View original post 108 more words

YOU LOOK DISGUSTING – (Comments Left on Social Media After a Woman Begins Posting Images of Her Face Without Makeup)

I would sooner have one person like this brave and beautiful girl, than one million who strive for physical perfection (it doesn’t exist) but who are ugly inside.

Please reblog to keep it going.

Kindness Blog

“My Pale Skin” wrote:

“Three months ago, I began posting images of myself without makeup on social media. The following film contains real comments that were left on images of my face.

Over the past few months, I’ve received thousands of messages from people all over the world who suffer or have suffered from acne, an insecurity or self-confidence issues.

I wanted to create a film that showed how social media can set unrealistic expectations on both women and men. One challenge many face today, is that as a society, we’re so used to seeing false images of perfection, and comparing ourselves to unrealistic beauty standards that It can be hard to remember the most important thing – You ARE beautiful.

You are beautiful – no matter how flawed you feel, no matter how upset you may about the way you look or how hard you find it to make…

View original post 46 more words

HELLO GIRLS!

I’m back

$$-AAAApinup_girls_05Hi folks.  I’ve been away from here for a little while.  That wasn’t intentional, I just got tied up (no, not that way – I should be so lucky, dears) in other things and blogging hasn’t been top of the agenda.

So, I’m just popping in to say Hi, I’m still alive and little Xandra shall soon be back to normal, posting her thoughts and observations on gender, sexuality and oh so much more and being the complete and utter bitch cuddly fluffy bunny she usually is.

Love you all.

Xandra XXXX

The Neopagan art of Rosaleen Norton

Bacchanal

“Bacchanal”

A celebration of nature and sexuality from the Witch of King’s Cross

Something a little different from the usual fare one finds in my blogs.  I have been reading recently about New Zealander occultist and artist Rosaleen “Thorn” Norton.

Rosaleen Norton and "The Horned God"

Rosaleen Norton and “The Horned God”

Rosaleen Norton was born in October 1917 in New Zealand, although her family moved to Sydney, Australia, when she was seven years old.  From an early age Rosaleen was ‘different’.  Refusing to sleep indoors, she preferred her tent in the garden, where her sole companion, an orb spider, guaranteed a modicum of privacy most children are not privilege too (nothing wrong in that – I like spiders too).  Sleeping outdoors instilled a love of nature and the night which was to heavily influence Rosaleen’s life.  She spoke of visions of dragon, fairies, elementals and “daemonic” creatures.

Finding a talent for drawing, Rosaleen pursued classes in art, which due to the influences upon her life, soon got her into trouble.  A drawing inspired by the Danse Macabre of Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns so horrified her teachers at Chatswood Girl’s Grammar School that she was duly expelled as an immoral influence.  She won a place at East Sydney Technical College where two teachers, hearing of her expulsion from Chatswood, attempted to have her similarly expelled from the college.  The college head however stood behind Rosaleen and refused to expel her.

"Fohat"

“Fohat”

Rosaleen while at college moved out of home and into a hotel near Sydney’s Circular Quay, known locally as the “Buggary Barn”, which was a magnet for eccentrics, radicals and beatniks; or as Rosaleen would have it, “artists, writers, musicians and drunks”.  Soon afterwards however she moved to Darlinghurst, a run-down area near the city’s King’s Cross district, which was to be her home for years to come and where she was to produce some of her finest work.  Being a night person, an occultist, an artist, a freethinker, and already having discovered her sexuality as an out and open bisexual, Rosaleen immediately fitted into the King’s Cross atmosphere.

Rosaleen studied eastern religions and philosophies, and arcane and occult literature, including that of the founder of Theosophy, Madame Blavatsky, and the self-styled “Beast 666”, Aliester Crowley.  She dabbled in many things and claimed to have once achieved the Buddhist “trance of annihilation” – being in a trance for five days.  Other trances and occult rites were achieved with and without the use of hallucinogenic drugs.  These philosophies and occult beliefs resulted in some of the most wonderful pagan / witchcraft based sketches and watercolours ever seen.

"The Initiate"

“The Initiate”

Rosaleen’s art often brought her into conflict with the conservative Australian media, who dubbed her “The Witch of King’s Cross” and the authorities.  Her exhibitions were frequently raided and closed down and she was tried on a number of occasions for obscenity.  Indeed, so much were the establishment out to make an example of Norton, that when private photographs of her and her poet lover, Gavin Greenlees, having sex were stolen and the thieves attempted to sell them to the press, is was Norton and Greenlees who were tried and fined for producing obscene photographs.

Rosaleen Norton continued working unafraid of the authorities, giving interviews to the press, in which she tried to explain witchcraft and her devotion to Pan, while also allegedly supplementing her income by casting spells for some people.

Rosaleen Norton died of colonic cancer at the Sacred Heart Hospice in Darlinghurst, Sydney, in 1979.  A pagan and a witch to the end, her last words were reportedly “I came into the world bravely; I’ll go out bravely.”

"Goddess Lilith"

“Goddess Lilith”

Some may wonder why I, an atheist, should be at all interested in what amounts to religious art.  I sometimes wonder myself.  I would say however that just because one is an atheist, does not mean one cannot be impressed by some facets of religion.  I love the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ, but that does not make me a Christian, no more than admiring the strong stance against usury in the Qur’an makes me a Muslim.

Plus of course, one can appreciate art without necessarily believing the faith of the artist (or more frequently, who commissioned them).  I would love to see the Sistine Chapel to fully appreciate the beauty of Michelangelo’s frescoes, and I am deeply moved by the religious works of Leonardo da Vinci.  And of course, I just loved the way their minds worked, as I do that of Rosaleen Norton.

I must however admit to having a soft spot for pagan and wiccan beliefs, as they show reverence for nature, which they fully recognise can be kind and cruel in equal turn.  That facet of paganism has no need for religious fables – it works upon truths, even unsavoury ones.

Rosaleen Norton and 'familiar'

Rosaleen Norton and ‘familiar’

And of course, paganism never judges sexuality but rather celebrates and reveres it in all it’s forms.  You will never find a homophobic or transphobic pagan.  In fact, they are much more likely to actively bisexual.

These are the things which attract me to Rosaleen Norton’s work, where Pan, representing nature, and sexuality are often strongly prevalent.  What conservative Australia saw as obscene, I see it in the context Norton obviously intended; a celebration.

And in that celebration, we see that all sexuality in all forms is represented.  There are beautiful young men and women, as well as the elderly, hetero sex, gay, lesbian and bi sex, fantastic creatures with human bodies and animal heads.

Detail from "Bacchanal" - self portrait?

Detail from “Bacchanal” – self-portrait?

Indeed, it could even be claimed that trans people get a look in.  for at the top left of the watercolour Bacchanal, there is a beautiful woman with breasts – and sporting a penis and testicles.  Now look closer at this character, and you’ll see she has a striking resemblance to Rosaleen Norton herself.  This can only suggest that Norton saw herself as embracing both female and male sexual characteristics.  She may indeed have been a pansexual, capable of loving all sexualities and genders.

If such art can celebrate and never judge anyone for their sexuality, while at the same time recognising the truths of the light side and dark side of nature, then I for one say it deserves to be embraced, rather than shunned, no matter how uncomfortable that may make some people feel.