This is a piece I wrote for Graham Linehan’s substack. I am including it on my blog so I can do a series on Irish Prisons.
BarbieKardashian is the adopted name by a male, with a history of sexual violence against women. Barbie is now incarcerated in a female prison in Limerick. This is possible because Ireland allows males to self-Identify as “women”. In the United Kingdom we don’t allow self-ID but, in case you were not aware, in the UK we also house males in female prisons, on the basis of their self-declaration. This is a widely circulated photograph of ”Barbie”.
The details of this case have been subject to reporting restrictions in Ireland. However, as it happens, I was familiar with this person from an earlier judicial case concerning the same individual. That case centred on an appeal against a special order to detain them in a secure facility. (Judicial Transcript linked here) 👇
A word about pronouns.
The legal situation in Ireland, and the journalist conventions, means that female pronouns are used, both in the legal case and in the media. I will not be adhering to those conventions. Firstly, they are inaccurate. The use of female pronouns distort perceptions of male violence, they are an insult to his victims and, finally, I believe they do great harm to this young man himself. Males in flight from their sex are not women. These are #NotOurCrimes
Cycles of abuse
The immediate outrage is for the women with whom he is incarcerated, a concern I share. However, I also want to look at the inter-generational, cycle of abuse in which this young man is ensnared.
At the time of this case the appellant was known only by the initial G. The household is described as one of “extreme depravity and domestic violence” Below is a flavour of his experiences when still a baby. His mother was prevented from breastfeeding him or tending to him as a baby. Both mother and son were abused by the father. I vehemently disagree with the framing of the parents as in a “sadomasochistic relationship”. One of them may well have been a sadist. Women in abusive relationships, coerced into participating in sadomasochistic acts, can’t be assumed to be involved in consensual BDSM!
G eventually learns that their best mode of self-protection is to ally himself with the person with the most power, unsurprisingly this is the male person. This is described as being “recruited” by the father to also abuse his mother. This is all the more tragic because, we are told, she was the “only source of benign interaction” 👇
This poor child was forced to perpetuate the abuse against the only person who could, in other circumstances, have been a source of comfort to him.
Anyone who has been involved in abusive family dynamics, as I have, (though to a much lesser degree), know the urge to deflect the violence in any way you can. Sometimes this means betraying your siblings. As an only child G deflected by colluding with the abuse of his mother. My own situation was rooted in my father’s history. I can certainly see the roots of his behaviour in his own experience. However, understanding the why of trauma, and cycles of abuse, should not be mistaken for excusing the perpetuation of that abuse. Women are less likely to repeat the cycle of abuse and societal influences, which fail to deal with male violence, are a significant factor. Men are thus given permission to externalise their trauma while women are more likely to internalise it,
Nevertheless, the psychological toll this must have taken, on this young boy, is heartbreaking to contemplate. However, even as a child, he become an abuser of women and disassociated from the consequences for his mother. He learned to associate ”cold violence” with survival.
Like father, like son
By the age of nine his mother escaped to a domestic violence refuge. However there was soon concern for the level of violence G displayed against his mother. Before long this violence resulted in care proceedings which removed him from his mother’s care. There was nothing recorded to suggest his mother provided insufficient care but clearly she was unable to restrain his violence against her, or others.
There followed a series of foster placements. Each broke down. The first two because of an inability to deal with his, escalating, violence. The last one lasted around a fortnight and seems likely to have broken down for similar reasons.
By the time he was 13 he remained in care settings and his violence had developed a sexual dimension directed at women. This is the detail of one attack which left his female victim hospitalised. The Gardaí (Irish police) expressed concern for female staff after this attack 👇. He attacked the social worker while she was driving tearing her eyelids all accompanied with threats to kill her.
The details of the attack are distressing. G’s response can only be described as chilling. While interviewed by the police he expressed a desire to murder his victim and showed annoyance that he had been unsuccessful adding this detail:
Thereafter psychiatric assessments show an increasingly callous and unemotional adolescent. During the same period, from age 15, he began to identify as transgender, seemingly after encountering another trans-identifying male at one of his placements. Of course this begins with make-up!
Amateur psychologists may hazard a guess at why a male, subject to male violence, and now a perpetrator of the same, may seek refuge in a kind of “rebirth”. Professional psychologists, instead, obtain a referral to a Gender Identity Clinic.
G obtained a referral to the Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic, in London. The, thirty minute, assessment confirmed his testimony was in line with a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria. However, the clinician judged that his history was well researched, unemotional and seemed “scripted”. A description many parents of Gender Dysphoric kids recognise. The clinician also noted that the teenager “seemed on the verge of offensive attack at all times”.
Thereafter the judicial transcript makes repeated warnings about how this individual is a danger to women. For emphasis, I assume, some of the statements refer to the risk to females. My inference is the judge is well aware that the risk is to the female sex, as distinct from people who merely self-identify as women. G knows which sex to target. He is also reported as being much more compliant with male staff. Furthermore he shows a complete inability for self-reflection, which makes him unwilling to access any therapeutic interventions to help change his behaviour.
His next statement is eerily reminiscent of a U.K. case of a pre-op, trans-identifying male. He committed attempted rape while released, on license, from prison. The mitigation offered for his offence was that he was not motivated by “sexual desire” (rape is about power not desire) but by envy of the woman for being what he was not. I cover that case, in full, here: 👇
Here is a quote from that case. Also from a judicial transcript
I see echoes of that same sentiment in this statement by G. Their failure to be recognised as a woman and observing others happiness . 👇. This unhappiness could easily turn to jealousy and anger against women who are born women and result in escalated violence.
The judgement also makes repeated references to G’s controlling personality and need to manipulate those around them. They instrumentalise any tool at their disposal to get their own way. This extends to manipulating clinicians in their orbit:
One aspect of this manipulation is the repeated threats of suicide and self harm. Yet, it is made clear, that there is no bodily evidence of self harm. Below is a statement, by G, re their threats to cut off their own genitalia. Yet the second paragraph veers off into a teen fantasy albeit focussed on a future in adult films.👇
Another clinician, who interviewed G highlights that they are very deceptive and this makes risk assessments particularly difficult:
Fast forward to September 2020. G has changed his name to Barbie Kardashian. They were charged with four counts of making threats to kill, or cause serious harm, to two people, a woman and a man. His address was given as no fixed abode. Giving evidence via video link he was keen to emphasise his Gender Identity and fear of being put in the male estate. His legal representative presented his Gender Recognition Certificate to the court. He is already legally a woman. He has been remanded in custody, to a female prison.
What could possibly go wrong?
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