NICOLE RUSSELL: Ted Cruz is right—Men must be kept out of women's prisons

To the left, codifying gender identity into laws like Title IX seems progressive and even altruistic. What about when it clashes with real-world scenarios that harm women?

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) pointed out this real-world question during a recent confirmation. The Biden administration nominated Judge Sarah Netburn to the Southern District of New York. Cruz questioned Netburn about why she chose to approve the transfer of a 6’2″ male to a women’s prison after the criminal identified as transgender. The prisoner had been convicted of molesting a nine-year-old boy, raping a 17-year-old girl and possessing child pornography.

“The other women in that prison, do they have any rights?” Cruz asked.

“Of course,” Netburn replied.

“Do they have the right not to have a 6’2″ man who is a repeat serial rapist put in as their cellmate?” Cruz asked.

Netburn responded that she had reviewed the specific facts of this particular prisoner and said that “every incarcerated person has the right to be safe in their space.”

Even Chris Cuomo, hardly a friend of Ted Cruz, posted on X, “Forget about how you feel abt Cruz...and forget the last 10 seconds of this clip but what is the counter to everything before that?” Cuomo is right. What do people say to oppose such logic? The only answer can be that progressive ideology on this issue trumps everything, including logic, safety and privacy.

In August 2022, Netburn approved the request of July Justine Shelby, born William McClain, now a transgender sex offender, to be sent to FMC Carswell, a female federal correctional facility in Fort Worth, Texas. The federal Bureau of Prisons had originally rejected Shelby’s request for female housing, based on the severity of the prisoner’s crimes, which Netburn noted in her opinion.

Shelby was convicted of his sex crimes in 1994, was released, violated parole, and was in prison until 2015. Upon release, Shelby underwent hormone therapy but two years later, was convicted of distributing child pornography and received a lengthy sentence, followed by supervised release and mandatory sex offender treatment. Shelby alleged harassment in men’s facilities and requested to be relocated.

What’s stunning about Netburn’s decision to purposely transfer a prisoner who committed sex crimes to a women’s prison is that she did so totally aware of Shelby’s criminal history.

Given Shelby’s record of abuse, the federal Bureau of Prisons claimed “that permitting Petitioner to live among women will be traumatizing and possibly dangerous to them,” Netburn wrote in her opinion as magistrate.

“This concern is overblown,” she wrote. “Petitioner identifies as bisexual and her 1994 convictions were against both a male and female. She has not sexually assaulted anyone since 1993. Moreover, the hypothetical concern that Petitioner will hurt someone must be counter-balanced by the actual evidence that she has been assaulted and harassed in a men’s facility.”

All this may be true. As a woman, I hope it is true that the prisoner now housed at a woman’s correctional facility previously convicted of rape has changed and is uninterested in perpetuating further harm to other women, whether as male, female or transgender. It does not seem wise, ethical or intelligent to house a man convicted of sex crimes, even if he now identifies as another gender, with women. But whether or not he will commit a crime again is in some ways beside the point.

Women, even women in prison, are deserving of privacy and safety. Even if a transgender prisoner never harms a person again. Netburn overlooked this because she embraces the progressive worldview that a transgender person’s rights somehow usurp women’s rights. This is both anathema to Title IX and yet a direct result of what else we will continue to see now that Biden has revised it again to codify gender identity into its protections.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, there are 10,584 females in prison, 145,724 males in prison, 1,406 transgender females in BOP custody and 753 transgender males. The question of where to house transgender prisoners, and whether to house transgender females with females will continue to surface. It already has in California. Biden’s revision of Title IX will only bolster this.

Cruz’s line of questioning pinpoints exactly the issues with allowing the progressive mindset on this topic to override the basic rights women deserve to have.

Image: Title: cruz prison