Men who ‘self-identify’ as female are being allowed to work for rape crisis centres, to the fury of women’s rights campaigners.
Helplines across England are advertising for transgender volunteers to provide counselling and advice for victims of sex abuse, even if they are not legally or physically female.
Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre wrote on social media: ‘We are looking for self-identifying women to join our amazing helpline and email support volunteer team.’
The charity said it was ‘trans inclusive’ and insisted there was no risk of ‘men dressing up as women to access vulnerable women’.
Helplines across England are advertising for transgender volunteers to provide counselling and advice for victims of sex abuse (file photo)
The centre deleted the remarks on Twitter after a storm of criticism but its website still advertises a job open to ‘self-identifying women’.
Elsewhere, Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre is advertising positions that are only open to women – but said that included ‘self-identifying women’. And Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds said: ‘If you identify as a woman or girl… then we are here for you.’ And it welcomed transgender women to ‘deliver our services as volunteers or employees’.
The services are now facing an angry backlash from those who say that women must be able to access female-only victims’ services. Under English law, only men can be convicted of rape.
There are fears that the policy of allowing self-identifying women to work for such services could deter victims from seeking help.
Last night Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, whose charity has helped thousands of rape victims in Iraq, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It seems to my mind completely contrary to the requirements of the clients. Rape crisis centres should be thinking about the victims.’
Tory MP and former Minister Jackie Doyle-Price said the problem was a misunderstanding of the Equality Act, which bans discrimination – but does allow some exemption for single-sex services.
Campaigner Maya Forstater, pictured last year, said: ‘This is not anti-trans, it is about women’s rights’
‘When it comes to victims of rape and sexual assault, they should be offered a woman-to-woman service,’ she said.
Campaigner Maya Forstater, who was supported by Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling after losing her job over ‘exclusionary’ comments, said: ‘For a woman calling a rape crisis line, being confident of hearing another woman’s voice on the line is critical. Women’s organisations need to know that they can use the single-sex exceptions in the law confidently, and say no to males. This is not anti-trans, it is about women’s rights.’
The revelations come as the Government prepares to reveal its long-awaited response to plans to let anyone legally change their gender by self-identification.
Under the controversial proposals, men would be allowed to declare they were female without having to live for two years as a woman or obtaining a formal medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
Equalities Minister Liz Truss is expected to announce within weeks that the move is being ditched, while added safeguards could be introduced to protect spaces for women such as refuges and public toilets.
Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre did not respond to requests to comment. But in its now-deleted tweets, it said: ‘CRCC is trans inclusive & always will be. We provide support to all women & girls who are survivors of sexual violence. We put the safety of these women and girls first and this is something we are mindful of when we recruit.
‘What about men dressing up as women to access vulnerable women? This is an issue with abusive men and not with trans women. We have never experienced this.’