By Heat Street Staff | 4:17 am, March 21, 2017
A convicted rapist who had a publicly-funded sex change operation while in prison has been moved to a women’s jail.
Father-of-three Martin Ponting was jailed for life in 1995 after attacking two girls. He was serving his sentence at the high security men’s jail HM Prison Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire, eastern England.
Having decided to live as a woman, Ponting, now 50 years old, had a £10,000 ($12,500) sex change operation courtesy of British taxpayers and now goes by the name Jessica Winfield. He changed his name at least a decade ago.
According to The Sun, Winfield is currently serving time in the women’s jail HM Prison Bronzefield in Surrey and is hoping to be released this year.
One of Winfield’s victims told The Sun: “He may have changed physically but his brain is still the same. To assume the identity of a woman after what he did is a kick in the teeth. There are not enough words to describe him and the evil he has done. It is diabolical they have allowed him to have a sex change and diabolical that he could be freed this year. He may have changed physically but his brain is still the same. You can change somebody’s genitals but it’s not going to take away the urge and impulse inside them to do horrific things to children. I feel like it mocks the people he offended against. It is a kick in the teeth for me and his other victim.”
Transgender prisoners in the UK have been allowed to apply for publicly-funded gender surgery since 1999.
It is rare for an article about a transgender person not to reveal their previous name. This conveys the false impression that transgender people are happy to have their previous names made public. A transgender person takes a new name to reflect their public change of gender. They discard the old name in the process and the deed poll on change of name is quite emphatic about this. Under no circumstance is the old name retained.
Why should you avoid revealing a transgender person's former name?
- You may place the transgender person at risk or harrassment.
- You may place yourself at risk of prosecution.
- It may be very difficult for you to undo your actions.
When a Gender Recognition Cerificate (GRC) is awarded, it becomes a criminal offence to reveal the owner's transgender history. At present the fine is £5000. It is the individual who reveals the name, not the organisation for which they work, who will face charges. There are no exemptions for journalism as there are with the Data Protection Act. Section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act was created with an "expectation of privacy" in mind.
It is important for a transgender person to be able to wipe the slate clean, to live a life free from persecution. Provided they have no outstanding debts, their credit history will be erased. They will be entitled to a new passport and driving licence. There is even a fresh birth certificate to help them through life. All of this is to no avail if their previous and current name are linked on a website. When this happens, such a person has no choice but to change their name again if they want the privacy to which they are entitled.
Whilst the legal position is not cut-and-dried, it is heavily weighted in favour of the transgender person. Even colleagues discussing a post-transitional person may be in breach of this law. Even before the award of a GRC, charges of harassment may be applied if the person is reported about on separate occasions using their previous name. Any article remaining on the internet following the award of a GRC may expose its author and editor to risk of prosecution.
The award of a GRC is never publicly announced, of course. There have been no high-profile prosecutions under Section 22 but that situation is unlikely to last. It is best to respect the terms of the person's deed poll and refer to them by their chosen name only.
Cristine Jennifer Shye B.acc. BL (GS Admin)