A rape victim says she was forced to leave a U.K. support group sponsored by a local charity after it insisted a burly transgender woman in men's clothing had the same right to be there as she did.
What are the details?
A Saturday report from the Daily Mail alleged that the rape survivor — called "Sarah" in the reporting — spoke up over her discomfort to Survivors' Network leaders when a transgender woman began attending group sessions.
"She was over six feet tall, had a deep voice, wore casual trousers and a sweatshirt and had no obvious female attributes," Sarah told the outlet. "I've no idea why she was there. My paranoid side makes me think they were there for voyeuristic reasons. My rational side thinks they were probably there because they need help."
Sarah said that the sessions that took place before the trans woman's arrival were far more comfortable, as the biological women in attendance were able to more freely share their stories of rape and sexual abuse.
"Some women had been abused as children so obviously we had that shared experience of being a girl and abused by a man," she recalled. "We talked a lot about male entitlement, about how men feel entitled to women's bodies. Quite often we just said how we didn't trust men and it felt like a safe space to say that."
But by the sixth session, Sarah said, everything changed when the trans woman — who reportedly never regaled the group with any stories of sexual abuse — arrived.
"It felt like the priority of the group was not to talk about male entitlement any more or our shared experiences, but about making sure this person who was born male felt comfortable," she alleged. "No matter how much a man says they're a woman, they're still born male."
Sarah, whose real identity remains concealed at the time of this reporting, added that she is concerned that more women could eventually be faced with dwindling safe spaces to recall their abuses at the hands of biological males.
"I completely support trans people's right to live how they want to live, but in practice women who have been raped are being left to get on with it on their own because of the approach these groups are now taking to please trans activists," she explained. "The reason I am speaking out is that I have a daughter and if something like this happened to her, I want her to be able to go to a female-only group if that's what she wants."
The outlet reported that the organization said that the unnamed trans woman had every right to be there, and in a response to Sarah's complaints said, "We do not police gender and we do not define who is and is not a woman; we allow women to define this for themselves."
In a statement, Survivors' Network said, "We are a feminist organization and we support survivors of all genders. Survivors of trauma and sexual violence, irrespective of gender identity, need support, care, and belief. With 30 years of expert knowledge, we are well equipped to offer this in a safe, survivor-led and empowerment-based way. Trans-inclusive feminism is key to our values and central to our services as a rape crisis center."