Trans

JK Rowling slammed for ‘demonising’ trans inmates at prison where women raped by guards

Lily Wakefield May 31, 2022
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JK Rowling

JK Rowling. (Neil Mockford/ FilmMagic)

JK Rowling has come under fire for claiming “vulnerable women” are at risk in a US prison because of trans inmates, while appearing to ignore extensive, horrific abuse by guards at the same facility.

On Saturday (28 May), Rowling shared a post to Twitter from the blog Reduxx, started just this year by Genevieve Gluck, a writer who advocates for “women’s sex-based rights”.

Headlined “‘This is a nightmare’: Female Inmate Speaks Out Against Trans-Identifying Male Transfers”, the article quotes just one inmate at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, New Jersey’s only women’s prison, who says she is uncomfortable being housed with trans women.

Sharing the blog post, Rowling tweeted: “Vulnerable and traumatised women pay the highest price for luxury beliefs.

“These are the real world consequences of redefining woman to include the penised.”

As of April this year, more than 800 inmates were housed at Edna Mahan. Of these, 27 are transgender and just eight are trans women.

While trans women often face harassment, abuse and sexual violence while incarcerated, the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women has a history of abuse by guards so severe, that New Jersey governor Phil Murphy announced last year that it would soon be closing.

The US Department of Justice published a damning report in April 2020, which said that extensive sexual abuse was an “open secret” at the prison.

The report found that women were raped by staff in the prison and that “spotty” camera coverage did not extend to some remote areas, including a storage closet which had a mattress on the floor.

It also reported that women were groped during strip searches, “routinely” described by staff as “bitches” and “dykes”.

In January 2021, prison guards carried out violent, late-night “cell extractions” at Edna Mahan, punching and kicking inmates and even leaving one with a fractured skull.

The violence saw 15 staff members criminally charged and prompted several lawsuits by inmates, including one by then 25-year-old Rae Rollins, a trans woman.

Shockingly, after her lawsuit was filed, Rollins was transferred to a men’s prison. 

Calling for the prison’s closure in June 2021, Murphy said in a statement: “Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women has a long history of abusive incidents predating our administration, and we must now commit ourselves to completely breaking this pattern of misconduct to better serve incarcerated women entrusted to the state’s care.”

Despite Murphy’s vow to close the institution, abuse at Edna Mahan continues to this day.

Just seven months ago, in October, a senior correctional officer was charged with sexually assaulting an inmate. Murphy has not set a timeline for the closure of the facility.

Twitter users pointed these facts out to Rowling, but she did not publicly respond.

“This prison is literally being shut down and… guards are being charged for rape and abuse,” one said. “Why not comment on one of those news stories [if] you care about women being safe in prison?”

“F**king wild seeing JK Rowling retweet this with that commentary knowing Edna Mahan is set to close due to the staff (including one of their highest ranking officials) sexually abusing incarcerated people there,” said another. “Like, of all s**t to uplift and highlight.”

 

Another Twitter user created a thread highlighting the abuse at Edna Mahan, and contrasting it with Rowling “demonisation” of trans women.

They wrote: “In Edna Mahan prison, [sexual assault] of inmates by cis male correctional officers has been rampant for decades.

“JK chooses to highlight fear of trans inmates, while remaining silent about the actual assaults by the cis male staff… This prison is clearly not a safe place for any woman, but that is not the fault of the inmates who are trans women.

“JK Rowling could bring attention to campaigns to protect the incarcerated women. But she doesn’t.

“Instead she chooses to demonise and misgender trans women. The ‘real world consequences’ of her actions are increasing transphobia at the expense of protecting women.”

JK Rowling declined to comment.

More: JK Rowling, transphobia

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