James Kirkup James Kirkup

The cautionary tale of Karen White, the transgender rapist

Karen White is a rapist and child abuser who has committed several acts of sexual violence against vulnerable people. One of the women Karen White raped was pregnant. Karen White is now going to spend a long time in jail.

Next week, a Government consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 will end. That’s the law that allows someone, for example, born male to be legally recognised as female, under certain conditions: you have to show you’ve lived in your new gender for two years, and a doctor has to certify that you have gender dysphoria or another condition that underpins your transition.

Some people think those conditions should be relaxed. They say the state has no business asking people to prove their own identity and that such rules are an unfair burden on transgender people who have quite enough trouble already in a society where they suffer prejudice and worse. The people and groups who make this case sometimes say that the “gatekeeping” elements of the gender change regime should be removed, so that a person can change legal gender on the basis of their own testimony, and nothing more.

Karen White

The ministers who announced the consultation haven’t clearly said what they think about this, but Theresa May has said she wants to “demedicalise” the GRA process, and Penny Mordaunt, the women’s minister has said similar things.

What does that slightly technical Whitehall process have to do with Karen White and the women Karen White raped and abused?

Karen White attacked some of those women in New Hall prison, a women’s prison. Karen White, then awaiting trial for rape, was in New Hall because Karen White says Karen White is transgender. Born male and still possessing a male body (including the penis used to rape that pregnant woman), Karen White was treated as a woman by the prison service, because Karen White said Karen White was a woman.

And Karen White is one of the reasons quite a lot of people have reservations about changing the law to allow people to change their recognised gender on the basis of their own testimony.

There is a common criticism of journalism and political argument on this topic, a criticism that is often voiced by trans-rights advocates and others.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in