A transgender woman who raped a teenage girl while still identifying as a male has been sentence to a men’s prison, raising questions about how the British penal system should deal with transgender inmates, the Guardian is reporting.
Three years ago, David Ayrton, now 34, began publicly identifying as a female and began going by the name Davina Ayrton (for simplicity’s sake, Davina will be referred to with the female pronouns “she” and “her” for the remainder of this article). She has not had any surgeries or begun any other medical treatment for her transition.
DAVINA AYRTON – HEYWOOD SUMNER HOUSE CARE HOME, FORDINGBRIDGE https://t.co/Vx6OBT8Pbc pic.twitter.com/dAJPn9AOjd
— InowhereurCusoon (@InowhereUR) January 8, 2016
Back in 2oo4, long before Davina had begun identifying as female, she met a 15-year-old girl who had run away from home, along with two of her friends. Prosecutors said Ayrton lured the girl back to a garage, where there were chairs and a sofa, and the group began drinking. Some time later, Aryton, who was 23-years-old at the time, forced herself on the teenage runaway, who described screaming for Davina to stop, and being unable to wake her friends, who were passed out nearby.
The rape went unreported, and Aryton was able to evade justice until 2014, after she had already begun transitioning to female. At the time Aryton, who is known to have learning disabilities, was living at Heywood Summer Home — a “care home” (roughly equivalent to a group home) for men with disabilities. There, she told a care worker that she was a “pedophile,” confessed to the rape, and said that he had “always known there was something wrong with me and I need help.”
After being found guilty of the 2004 rape (Aryton has also been found guilty of possessing indecent images of children), Judge Ian Pearson ordered Aryton into jail for her own safety — during the trial, Aryton confessed that she had tried to kill herself — until she can be sentenced on March 4.
“I am going to have to remand in custody, if I were to release on bail there are substantial grounds to believe she would be a risk to herself and a risk of failing to attend for whatever reason. I will therefore have to remand in custody. It will have to be a male prison in Winchester but it will be an issue for the prison service. It’s been a slightly unusual case and it’s not been an easy case.”
— Prison Reform Trust (@PRTuk) December 16, 2015
Aryton’s sentencing to a male prison brings to light the issues facing the British justice system when it comes to dealing with transgender inmates. Currently, the Ministry of Justice doesn’t have a specific policy regarding where to place transgender inmates, and each prison makes its own decision on where to put the prisoners based on the transgender inmate’s, and other inmates’, safety.
However, last month, Justice Minister Caroline Dinenage said that the vast majority of transgender prisoners are placed in a prison based on their sexual identity at birth, unless the prisoner has legally changed his or her sex.
“Transgender adult prisoners are normally placed according to their legally recognised gender. However, we recognise that these situations are often complex and sensitive. That is why prisons exercise local discretion on the placement of those who live, or propose to live, in the gender other than the one assigned at birth. In such cases, senior prison management will review the individual circumstances, in consultation with medical and other experts.”
In November and December, 2015, in the space of a few weeks, two transgender inmates killed themselves in British prisons. One had told friends that she would take her own life if sent to a male prison; another had been in a special segregation unit for prisoners who are particularly dangerous or vulnerable.
Do you think a transgendered female should be sent to a male prison if she committed her crime as a male? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via Shutterstock/sakhorn]