At least Ted Cruz understands men don’t belong in women’s prisons

If you had told me when I graduated law school that I would one day use my Ivy League law degree to tell the federal judiciary that women don’t have penises, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Last week, I closely followed an exchange between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn during a nomination hearing about why she permitted a man named William McClain, who goes by the name July Justine Shelby, to be transferred to a federal women’s prison. McClain had previously been convicted of two counts of child rape and one count of distributing child pornography while on parole.

During Cruz’s questioning of Netburn, he asked her directly whether the inmate in question had “male genitalia,” and she stated unambiguously “Yes.”

And thus mainstream liberal America woke up to the knowledge that male convicted rapists with penises are being housed in women’s prisons with vulnerable women.

Unlike most liberals, however, I wasn’t at all surprised about this.

For several years now, Democratic officials have been allowing men, including men with records of committing sexual and violent crimes, to be housed in women’s prisons. Unfortunately, this has largely gone ignored by the legacy media, which is why so few people know about it and why so many were shocked about what Netburn had done.

The men, often referred to as “biological males,” even though there is no other kind of men, are permitted to be housed in women’s prisons because they claim to be women — they claim to have a “woman gender identity.” Some jurisdictions require such men to undergo some form of hormonal and/or surgical changes to be housed in the women’s prison. Other jurisdictions, including California, New Jersey, and Washington state, have laws and policies on the books simply allowing them to state that they are women.

Unlike Cruz, I am not a Republican. I am the president of the U.S. chapter of Women’s Declaration International, which is grounded in leftist, radical, feminist values. WDI USA is a nonpartisan organization, but speaking solely for myself, I am a lifelong Democrat, other than a short stint as a California Green.

Readers would never know it from reading the legacy media, but there are leftist women all over the world pushing back against policies such as the one that allowed Netburn to place a man who is a convicted child rapist and distributor of child pornography in a women’s prison. We’re referred to as TERFs.

TERFs have known that this is happening for years, and we have done our best to speak out about it, but the legacy media largely ignores us. The radical feminist organization Women’s Liberation Front, on whose board I used to serve, sued the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2021, complaining that its policy of allowing men into the women’s prison violates women’s First, Eighth, and 14th Amendment rights. The complaint was dismissed for procedural reasons earlier this month.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, a black woman named Tomiekia Johnson, stated in an affidavit, “I told my male roommate a thousand times I can see his penis and the whole package through his panties. He walks around in a bra and panties, not properly dressed.”

Another group called Women II Women in California has been fighting to get the concerns of incarcerated women heard for years. Hardly anyone has listened.

And it is not just prisons where men have been allowed to walk around with their penises and claim to be women. In 2021, a man was permitted to enter the women-only nude section of Wi Spa, a Korean-style spa in Los Angeles. He had an erection. When women complained, they were told he was permitted to do this because of a state law allowing men to access female-only places of public accommodation on the basis of their “gender identities.” And that’s true — California state law does allow that.

Further north, in Washington state, a man, with a penis, wanted to access a women-only nude spa called Olympus Spa. The spa denied him access and he challenged its women-only policy before the Washington State Human Rights Commission, which ruled that state law does grant him the right to access the women-only nude spa because he claims to be a woman. The spa then sued the WSHRC in federal court to protect its women-only policy, but the district court ruled in favor of the WSHRC. The spa then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, where the case is pending.

WDI USA filed a friend-of-the-court brief in that case in support of the spa’s women-only policy. In its brief, WDI USA makes three main arguments: Forcing places of public accommodation to admit men into women-only spaces constitutes sex discrimination; states cannot enforce both laws that allow men to access women-only spaces on the basis of their “gender identities” and also laws against voyeurism and indecent exposure; and words such as “transgender” obscure the material reality of sex.

The brief reads:

In its orders granting Appellees’ motions to dismiss, the District Court repeatedly used the word “transgender” and the phrases “transgender woman,” “transgender women,” and “transgender women with male genitalia” uncritically and without definition. According to the National Institutes of Health, male genitalia consists of “the external organs (penis; scrotum; and urethra) and the internal organs (testis; epididymis; vas deferens; seminal vesicles; ejaculatory ducts; prostate; and bulbourethral glands).” At no point did the District Court explain how individuals with male genitalia can be a type of women. It goes without saying that women do not have any of these organs. It is truly a testament to where we are as a society today that it must be said in the context of federal civil rights litigation that women don’t have penises.


So, to Cruz, I say thank you. It’s high time liberal America wakes up to what the Left is doing here. That’s why in 2023, I, a Democrat, published a book called The Reckoning: How the Democrats and the Left Betrayed Women and Girls. It’s why WDI USA works to advance the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights throughout U.S. law and policy.

We know that when the Democrats in power champion “inclusion,” they mean the right of men to penetrate women-only spaces with their penises. When President Joe Biden says that “transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time,” he means the right of men to destroy everything feminists have fought for. And if it takes a Republican such as Ted Cruz to bring this to light, I’ll take it.

Kara Dansky is the author of The Reckoning: How the Democrats and the Left Betrayed Women and Girls, and president of the U.S. chapter of Women’s Declaration International. She has a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.


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