Convicted rapist wants state to fund transitioning

March 9, 2009

I’ve just read an article in the Toronto Sun which raises some difficult and emotive questions.

Should a convicted rapist who’s serving a sentence at “an institution for the criminally insane” expect to benefit from the same civil and legal rights afforded to others? Human rights should be available to all, shouldn’t they? Even those who have been found guilty of crimes which may, in their execution and outcome, have restricted or denied the human rights of others?

What if that same convicted rapist was then diagnosed with gender identity disorder, and asked the state to pay the financial costs of transitioning? That is the crux of the report in the Toronto Sun (link here).

I’ve talked elsewhere about the trans-misogyny of including details of trans peoples’ gender presentation, and about the cissexism inherent in revealing pre-transition details as if one’s post-transition life only achieves any validity in the context of what went before. And I’ve also talked about that problematic phrase “a woman trapped in a man’s body”.

The article itself is predictably and unhelpfully couched in the usual histrionic manner and loaded words favoured by the mass media, but having been unable to find any other perspectives on it, I’m assuming it’s at least fundamentally accurate:

Rapist wants us to pay for sex change

An inmate of an institution for the criminally insane who insists she is a “female trapped inside a male’s body” is begging for a $15,000 assessment that would qualify her for a government-funded sex change.

“I’m going to fight this to the finish,” Shauna Taylor, 52, said outside court yesterday, as three guards from the Oakridge division of the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre stood by.

Wearing a skirt and high-heeled shoes, Taylor — formerly named Vance Egglestone until she got a legal name change — began transitioning into a female in 2000, with extensive hormone therapy, nose surgery and $15,000 worth of permanent hair removal.

But now she wants an orchidectomy — the surgical removal of her testes — and she wants the province to pay.

In 1976, Egglestone was found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity of the brutal rape of a woman. Since then most of her time has been spent at Oakridge.

Eggleston was released for a brief stint in 1985 and was again charged with aggravated sexual assault, forcible confinement and choking of another female. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of sexual assault and was re-incarcerated.

“I don’t like talking about my past — I’m ashamed of it,” Taylor said. “I am terribly, terribly sorry for what I have done.”

She blames her gender identity disorder for her criminal behaviour and believes that having the orchidectomy to complete her transition into womanhood will go a long way in her treatment.

“I was a female trapped inside a male’s body,” she said. “I started acting out in ways that I thought a male was supposed to act … my head was in a spin back then.”

But before she can qualify for the surgery under OHIP, she must go through a battery of rigorous testing to determine whether or not surgical intervention is necessary for Taylor’s health and welfare.

That assessment would cost $15,000 and lawyers for the Attorney General and the Ontario Review Board, the independent provincial agency that oversees people found not criminally responsible, argued in court over who should foot the bill for the assessment.

Justice Clair Marchand will give a decision next week.


ETA: At the moment I’m thinking about this from the human rights pov. I think it’s fair to say that gender dissonance is a condition which causes deep distress and anguish – so shouldn’t Ms Taylor have the right to access appropriate treatments for that? Otoh, she has inflicted sexual violence on two women and in the process denied them their human rights. But Ms Taylor is serving a lengthy custodial sentence for the crimes of which she has been convicted, thereby curtailing her rights to such things as freedom of movement – so is that sufficient mitigation in itself? Do two wrongs make a right? And is the logical outcome of following a strategy of an eye for an eye, a society which is unable to see?


(Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia)


3 Responses to “Convicted rapist wants state to fund transitioning”

  1. Ruth Moss Says:

    Hmm. I guess… much as what she’s done is despicable, if other medically essential treatments are available to her in prison, so ought this one to be.

  2. Jen Says:

    There are no circumstances where any person should be denied any civil rights whatsoever. Universal free healthcare is one of those rights, so whatever crime she has committed is completely irrelevant to this. She should get the surgery.

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