Having beaten COVID-19, NRL sets its sights on conquering the Pacific with bid to get rugby league into schools


Rugby league is already considered the national game in Papua New Guinea and the goal is for the sport to eventually reach similar status in Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and the Cook Islands. The proportion of NRL players of Pacifika heritage is estimated to be about 45 per cent, a number that is likely to increase in the coming years.

Tonga has become a powerhouse on the international stage, compiling a team capable of challenging the “big three” of Australia, New Zealand and England at the World Cup. There are hopes that Fiji, Samoa, the Cook Islands and PNG will eventually enjoy a similar rise if young players have proper development pathways in their homelands.

Fiji will this year enter a team in the Ron Massey Cup competition with a view to advancing to the NSW Cup in future years. The participation of the Kaiviti Silktails, financed primarily by the Australian federal government, has been guaranteed after the entire team committed to a seven-month stay in Sydney to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Tonga has become an international rugby league force.Credit:NRL Photos

It is a huge sacrifice by the players, many having left behind their families and jobs to pursue their rugby league dreams in the third-tier competition. Having just come out of quarantine, the team will stay at Kingsford and has formed a partnership with the Roosters.

The Silktails became the first team from Fiji to play in a NSWRL competition last year, but they managed just one appearance before the pandemic forced the competition to close.

“There’s a big welfare component to it, we have a really big community here,” said Silktails chief executive Stephen Driscoll.

“Our home ground is Mascot Oval and when we play there on the weekends we want to make it a real Fijian experience. There are 150,000 Fijians in NSW and we’re excited to be playing here.”

The NRL will also focus on boosting participation numbers in its heartland Australian states. The clubs on Friday were told that the AFL had more than three times as many registered players, despite the NRL investing $40 million in its participation programs.

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Collins sets up Barty clash in Adelaide


American Danielle Collins has set up a meeting with world No.1 Ash Barty after beating Zheng Saisai in the Adelaide International.

Collins overcome Zheng 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 in their first round clash on Monday, figuring out her Chinese opponent after two previous losses.

“She’s a really challenging player to play against,” Collins said. “She has a really versatile game and it can be tricky at times.”

It means Collins, a 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist, will come up against Australian defending champion Barty in the second round on Wednesday.

The American world No.37 pushed Barty to a third-set tiebreaker at the semi-final stage in Adelaide last year.

Australian wildcard Olivia Gadecki, 18, lost her first round clash against eighth seed Wang Qiang 6-4 6-3 on Monday.

On Tuesday the stage is set for two all-Australian match-ups with Sam Stosur to play Maddison Inglis and Ajla Tomljanovic to meet Storm Sanders in the first round.

Stosur and Tomljanovic both took wildcards to play the event while Inglis and Sanders were qualifiers.

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Daniil Medvedev dominates Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets to advance to Australian Open final


Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev will face eight-time winner Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open men’s final after safely advancing from the last four.

Medvedev dominated Greece’s fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second semi-final, winning 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and nine minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

He is the third Russian to reach the men’s final at Melbourne Park and the first since Marat Safin lifted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup in 2005.

Sunday night’s clash with Djokovic will also be his second appearance in the final of a major. He lost the 2019 US Open decider to Rafael Nadal in five sets.

Djokovic is seeking to win his third straight Australian Open.

Medvedev said he would benefit from the experience of having faced Nadal in the New York final two years ago.

“It was my first grand slam [tournament] final against one of the greatest,” he said in his on-court interview.

“Sunday, I’m going to come against one of the other greatest … we will know on Sunday and not know before the match what is going to happen.”

Friday night’s result gave Medvedev 12 consecutive wins over top-10 opponents and it was his 20th overall in tour-level matches.

His serve was outstanding against Tsitsipas, slamming down 17 aces and conceding just two double faults. He only dropped serve once for the match and faced just three break points.

Tsitsipas, appearing 48 hours after his thrilling five-set defeat of Rafael Nadal, was playing catch-up against Medvedev from midway through the first set but could still be proud of his effort in his second Australian Open semi-final.

Given the cap on spectators, Friday evening’s encounter still attracted a healthy crowd size and it was clear when the players walked out on court that Tsitsipas would enjoy the lion’s share of support.

Greek flags could be seen throughout the stadium but Medvedev did not seem bothered by the crowd’s allegiance to Tsitsipas as he gained the upper hand early in proceedings.

He did not face a break point in the first set, while Tsitsipas dropped serve in the fifth game.

Tstsipas had his moments though, such as a crisp forehand down the line in the seventh game that drew a loud cheer from the crowd.

The only time Medvedev looked nervous was when he was serving at 5-4 and blew three set points, the third via a double fault.

But he recovered and converted on his fourth set point with an unplayable serve.

Tsitsipas was struggling to lay a glove on Medvedev and this was evident in his first two service games in the second set.

He was taken to deuce before holding in the opening game but dropped serve for the second time in the match to trail 1-2, with Medvedev icing the break with a clean forehand winner.

The forehand had been a weapon of choice for Medvedev and a blistering service return off his right wing — albeit with the aid of net cord — gave him another service break and a 5-2 lead.

He served out the second set to love, marking the moment with another ace.

While Medvedev’s forehand was on song, his backhand was also troubling Tsitsipas.

A classy crosscourt backhand return when Tstispas approached the net in the opening game of the third set was another addition to his highlights reel.

Tsitsipas ended up dropping serve to trail 0-1 but he refused to give up and fought his way back into the set when he gained his first break of the Medvedev serve.

The crowd erupted at this point, with the set back on serve at 3-3.

Tsitsipas gave himself hope of snaring another break when Medvedev was 0-30 down in the 10th game.

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Ash Barty charges into Australian Open quarter-finals, beating Shelby Rogers in straight sets


World number one Ash Barty has made the Australian Open quarter-finals for the third consecutive year following a straight-sets victory over Shelby Rogers.

Barty was at her clinical best for much of her 6-3, 6-4 triumph over the unseeded American on Rod Laver Arena on Monday evening, taking an hour and 11 minutes to book a spot in the last eight.

She only lost one service game against Rogers, surprisingly when she served for the match at 5-2 in the second set.

Barty will next play the 25th-seeded Karolina Muchova, who defeated Elise Mertens — the tournament’s 18th seed — 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 in their fourth-round encounter.

The top half of the draw continued to open up on Monday following the surprise exit of fifth seed Elina Svitolina, who lost to Jessica Pegula in three sets.

Barty is the only seed inside the top 10 to reach the quarter-finals in her half.

The 24-year-old is looking to become the first Australian to win the women’s singles championship since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

A tennis player looks straight at the ball as she prepares to hit a backhand during a match.
Barty dropped serve just once in her win over Rogers.(AP: Andy Brownbill)

She reached the semi-finals last year but lost to eventual winner Sofia Kenin in straight sets.

Barty only returned to the WTA Tour in the week before the Australian Open after sitting out 11 months of the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

She won the Yarra Valley Classic, a lead-up tournament at Melbourne Park, giving her a confidence boost ahead of her eighth Australian Open campaign.

“It’s really exciting to be through to another quarter-final,” Barty said in her on-court interview.

Barty again wore a bandage and tape on her left thigh but as with her past two matches showed no signs of physical discomfort on court.

In contrast to her wins in the second and third rounds, Barty held serve in the opening game.

Rogers did likewise with her first service game but she soon found herself chasing Barty, who quickly took command of the first set.

A cross-court forehand iced a break of the Rogers serve that saw the Australia lead 3-1.

Rogers had two break points when she trailed 2-4 in the seventh game, but Barty refused to panic and got herself out of trouble to hold serve.

Barty made no mistake when serving for the first set 5-3, closing it out in just 29 minutes.

She was cruising to victory when she served at 5-2 in the second set with the luxury of two match points and a double break.

A tennis player outstretches her racquet with her right arm in
Shelby Rogers refused to quit against Barty in the late stages of the second set.(AP: Andy Brownbill)

But Rogers, who gave Barty a stern test during their Yarra Valley Classic quarter-final earlier this month, did not roll over when staring at defeat.

She won four consecutive points to claim her first service break of the match before holding in the next game.

An unfazed Barty, however, rebounded by serving to love to earn a quarter-final berth against Muchova.

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Palm-fringed fury – A Zoom call sets off a diplomatic dust-up in the Pacific | Asia


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Ash Barty beats Ekaterina Alexandrova in straight sets to reach Australian Open fourth round


Ash Barty’s tilt at becoming the first Australian since 1978 to win the women’s singles championship at their home major has gained momentum courtesy of a straight-sets defeat of Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Barty, again wearing a bandage and tape on her left thigh, was down a service break in both sets but recovered each time on her way to recording a 6-2, 6-4 over the Russian 29th seed in an almost empty Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open.

The world number one will next meet unseeded American Shelby Rogers in the fourth round.

No doubt speculation will build on whether Barty can become the first Australian to lift the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup since Chris O’Neil did so 43 years ago.

But Barty has made it clear in her media appearances so far this Australian Open that she does not listen to any outside noise.

Her half of the draw has opened up, however, to make the path to the final a little less treacherous following the early exits of defending champion Sofia Kenin and sixth seed Karolína Plíšková.

Barty has also played down fears she is carrying a thigh injury, despite wearing heavy bandaging in her past two singles matches.

But concern she is managing more than just general soreness grew when she withdrew from a doubles match on Friday.

Her movement did not appear restricted against Alexandrova and if she recovers well following Saturday night’s victory, she will be heavily favoured to beat Rogers and advance to the quarter-finals for a third consecutive year.

Barty normally walks out to wild applause from her home crowd at the Australian Open but tonight it was a different story.

She was greeted by a virtually empty Margaret Court Arena, with spectators not allowed to attend Melbourne Park because of Victoria’s five-day coronavirus lockdown.

With only members of her support staff in the stands, Barty made a shaky start when she was immediately broken by Alexandrova.

A double fault ended Barty’s first service game and Alexandrova then held for a 2-0 lead, although she had to survive three break points to do so.

Barty was not rattled, however, and she soon settled into her groove. The 2019 French Open champion won her next service game and broke Alexandrova to level at 2-2.

Ash Barty stretches for a forehand against Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Barty was again wearing strapping on her left thigh.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

Another two breaks of the Alexandrova serve helped Barty finish off the set, having won six consecutive games in the process.

Alexandrova racked up 16 unforced errors in the first set but she still had her moments, with a cracking forehand on a service return in the seventh game making her highlight reel.

A nifty backhand drop shot in the fifth game of the second set gave her a service break, which she consolidated to jump out to a 4-2 lead.

Games were soon back on serve though, as Barty held and then broke Alexandrova to level at 4-4.

A fifth service break for the match saw Barty complete her assignment on the back of winning four straight games, with a superb forehand winner icing the victory.

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Australian Open 2021, day four, as it happened: Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev through to third round in straight sets as Sam Stosur bows out in second round against Jessica Pegula



After a superb night of tennis headlined by Nick Kyrgios’ win, Ashleigh Barty leads the charge as we approach the end of the first week of the Australian Open.

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new president sets ambitious target


Drummond grew up in Leongatha listening to the Cats on the radio before he headed to school at Scotch College then Melbourne University on his way to a career in investment banking.

It’s those experiences, rather than his memories of standing on beer cans to watch Geelong from the terraces, that have him well placed to tackle the financial challenges ahead.

He plans to be an understated president, working more in the unassuming reliable style of a Corey Enright than displaying the flamboyant, unpredictable flair of Steve Johnson.

“One thing I am very conscious of is understanding where the line is between executive and non-executive and so my philosophy has been very much to employ great people in the executive and let them get on with their job,” Drummond said.

“We have recruited for many years at our football club, very good people, not just football people but very good people in administrative roles and I think that is important. You want to go an organisation that is safe, caring and respectful and I think our club – and we don’t always get it right – embed that in our culture.”

When corporate life took Drummond to Sydney he flew to Avalon airport about 16 times a year to watch Geelong games and attend board meetings.

However, in keeping with his predecessors in the job at Geelong, Drummond is no high-flyer.

He sees the role of the football club stretching beyond what happens on the field each week.

“The contribution that we make to society and the whole social-licence aspect of the footy club will remain a central piece for what we do going forward as well as how we conduct ourselves as a club more broadly,” Drummond said.

He said that philosophy underpinned their move away from gaming despite the financial risk because they found their presence in that business to be inconsistent with their community values. They have sought alternative revenue sources such as investments in fitness and catering ventures.

Drummond, who is married to Bernadette and has two children, April and James, is up for the challenge at the Cats as he also leads Medibank, a business that employs 4500 people.

“Although maybe the words are slightly different, many of the behaviours, many of the actions and the people are very similar,” Drummond said.

“In a corporate setting the key for me is having absolutely outstanding leaders around me that I delegate to and having them exhibit exceptional judgment on the decision making that they undertake. It is the same in a footy club.”

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Blackstone’s Tynan sets the group on a growth path


Blackstone is one of the most closely watched firms in the US investment markets – Schwarzman, whose net worth is estimated at $US19 billion, is one of America’s most celebrated business figures (although he has recently suffered criticism for his strident support of former US president Donald Trump).

The firm has kept a low profile in Australia since setting up an outpost here a decade ago, although the size and significance of its presence, particularly in real estate, is rising.

Since Tynan joined Blackstone in 2015 to work on the drawn out takeover battle for Investa Office Fund the global real estate investor has grown its Australian property portfolio to more than $15 billion in Australia and NZ. Its headcount has grown from one employee to more than 30 and it remains one of only a handful of global real estate investors to keep a dedicated team on the ground in Australia.

The biggest chunk of its Australian operations are in real estate where its portfolio is split 20 per cent retail, 45 per cent logistics, with the remainder in office. Its logistics portfolio, which includes nine industrial estates with key tenants like Woolworths and global food packaging giant Huhtamäki, returns $150 million annual income fully leased.

Perhaps most notably, Blackstone emerged with a 10 per cent stake in James Packer’s Crown Resorts in April last year. It applied to increase that stake in October, fuelling speculation it could be interested in a broader play for the besieged casino operator.

Mr Tynan wouldn’t be drawn on the group’s intentions for Crown. But Blackstone’s investment mantra is famously ‘buy it, fix it, sell it’. And Crown may fit the bill nicely. The gaming group was last year hit by two shareholder class actions, an enforcement investigation by financial intelligence operator AUSTRAC, and a damaging inquiry led by the NSW gaming regulator.

Tynan is more forthcoming on Blackstone’s other potential targets for growth in areas such as data centres, land-rich shopping malls and even redundant office towers.

Globally, Blackstone has tracked the expansion of internet giant Amazon’s fulfilment centres, buying up logistics real estate in high growth segments. It has been a profitable exercise, and Tynan expects to see more of it in Australia. “We identified ecommerce as a growth sector and started buying up logistics assets pretty aggressively, not because we thought, it’s going to be the flavour of the month in Australia in 2020,” he says.

“But because we thought there’s a catalyst for demand [of online shopping] that we haven’t actually seen hit Australia yet. And I think that that probably is still the case. So if you’re asking whether we’re done on logistics yet? Our answer is definitely ‘No’.“

But even with the rising tide of e-commerce, he warns that once the government’s pandemic-busting JobKeeper wage subsidy and other lifelines are withdrawn next year, it will spell trouble.

“Retail has been impacted already. And COVID made it worse. I think as they wean the retail industry off those lifelines, you will see the real impact of Coronavirus and the subsequent rise in ecommerce.“

“That’s not to say that you can’t go and find good value in a shopping centre, but I think a lot of centres are going to need help. I don’t think that the distresses have truly come home to roost just yet.“

Tynan says shopping centres will survive with more tenants looking to use their stores as part showcase, part click and collect and part warehouse.

But coming into 2021, the talk of the town is whether staff will return to office towers en masse or continue to work from home, and what that means for occupancy rates.

“The Blackstone view is that Steve and John who are the CEO and COO, are huge believers that collaboration and creativity happens best when you’re together. And whilst tools like Zoom are phenomenal versus being on the phone, they aren’t the only answer,” he says.

“And so they are very encouraging of the offices getting back together when it’s safe. And when it’s practical to do so.″

“Where we’ve found ourselves most inclined to make investments in the office space, certainly in the last little while, has been trying to think of themes that are going to really drive that office take up regardless of whether people partially working from home and fully working,” he says.

Chris Tynan, the head of Blackstone real estate investments in Australia, SydneyCredit:Jessica Hromas

“These meetings are a hugely important part of our process and global investment committee, and for real estate, the investment committee starts at 10am New York time on Monday,” Tynan, the senior managing director and the head of Real Estate Australia, says in an exclusive interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“And the reason that it’s fairly inflexible is because Steve and John attend all of the investment committees during the day.”

Using the Blackstone mantra of buy it, fix it and sell it, Tynan says every proposal is considered by the committee and benchmarked against global deals.

These meetings are a hugely important part of our process and global investment committee, and for real estate, the investment committee starts at 10am New York time on Monday

Chris Tynan, Blackstone

Having completed a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Law at the University of New South Wales, Tynan joined Morgan Stanley where over the course of almost 13 years he left as the managing director.

But when not at work he spends most of his time chauffeuring kids around to various sporting events. He, with wife Nancy, have three children, two girls and a boy at primary school.

“I swim next to my girls who are in regular squads when they’re not at ballet or gymnastics. On the weekends I’m doing the sport shuffle between Jujitsu, ballet, swimming all Saturday and Sundays are for family time,” he says.

Since Tynan joined Blackstone in 2015, where his first high-profile deal was working on the long takeover battle for Investa Office Fund, which eventually went to Oxford Properties, the global real estate investor has grown its Australian property portfolio to more than $15 billion in Australia and NZ. Australia accounts for the lion’s share with $12 billion of real estate assets.

Blackstone also owns La Trobe Financial and the former Valad Property group, which is now called 151 Property.

The global business is run using three investment fund principles: a more aggressive ‘opportunistic’ platform, a longer term ‘core plus’ profile, and non-bank debt lending.

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The biggest chunk of its Australian operations are in focused around real estate. In general, its portfolio mix is split towards 20 per cent of retail and 45 per cent logistics, with the remainder in office and the rapidly evolving build-to-rent sector.

It has teamed up with Beck Property Group, run by property veteran Max Beck’s son, Sam, to take the next stage of its Caulfield Village project. Under the deal, Blackstone signed a fund-through for 437 apartments across seven buildings with an end value around $300 million, an investment it will hold and manage in its portfolio.

Other targets for acquisition and expansion are data centres, land-rich shopping malls and even redundant office towers.

Starting with one employee ten years ago, its Sydney office now houses a robust team of 30 employees, one of only a handful of global real estate investors keeping a dedicated team on the ground in Australia.

That team will grow amid expectations the property outlook will improve over the coming year, underpinned by a reliable vaccine and Australia’s ability to manage the pandemic’s impact.

Globally, Blackstone has tracked the expansion of internet giant Amazon’s fulfilment centres, buying up logistics real estate in high growth segments, a profitable exercise.

For Tynan, there is more growth to come, particularly in Australia. “We identified ecommerce as a growth sector and started buying up logistics assets pretty aggressively, not because we thought, it’s going to be the flavour of the month in Australia in 2020,” he says.

“But because we thought there’s a catalyst for demand [of online shopping] that we haven’t actually seen hit Australia yet. And I think that that probably is still the case. So if you’re asking whether we’re done on logistics yet? Our answer is definitely ‘No’.”

But even with the rising tide of e-commerce, he warns that once the government’s pandemic-busting JobKeeper and other lifelines are withdrawn next year, it will spell trouble.

“Retail has been impacted already. And COVID made it worse. I think as they wean the retail industry off those lifelines, you will see the real impact of Coronavirus and the subsequent rise in ecommerce.”

“That’s not to say that you can’t go and find good value in a shopping centre, but I think a lot of centres are going to need help. I don’t think that the distresses have truly come home to roost just yet.”

Tynan says shopping centres will survive with more tenants looking to use their stores as part showcase, part click and collect and part warehouse.

But coming into 2021, the talk of the town is the impact on the office market and whether staff will return to work and what that means for occupancy.

“The Blackstone view is that Steve and John who are the CEO and COO, are huge believers that collaboration and creativity happens best when you’re together. And whilst tools like zoom are phenomenal versus being on the phone, they aren’t the only answer,” he says.

“And so they are very encouraging of the offices getting back together when it’s safe. And when it’s practical to do so.”

He says from the Blackstone real estate view, there is a range of different tenants with different outcomes that they’re talking about with respect to 2021.

“Where we’ve found ourselves most inclined to make investments in the office space, certainly in the last little while, has been trying to think of themes that are going to really drive that office take up regardless of whether people partially working from home and fully working,” he says.

“Time will tell when we enter 2021.”

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Prisoners’ dilemma – Putting trans women in female prisons sets up a clash of rights | United States


KARLA BELLO, a care assistant in Florida, had been living as a woman for years when she missed a court hearing following a series of traffic violations, failed to pay bail and wound up in a male jail. There, the guards called her “sir” and confiscated her bra and “gaff” (a piece of fabric used to hide male genitalia), leaving her feeling humiliated. Worse, she says, she was denied access to the cross-sex hormones to which she had become habituated, inducing chest pains and intense anxiety. Putting transgender women in men’s prisons can be cruel. It is also, in an already dangerous environment, perilous: research suggests that transgender inmates are much more likely than other prisoners to be assaulted.

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A growing awareness of this, combined with activists’ call for transgender people to be recognised as members of the gender with which they identify, is leading to changes in the way trans prisoners are housed. In most cases, such inmates (the majority of whom are trans women) are incarcerated with members of their biological sex. But this month, California introduced a law allowing prisoners to request to be housed in accordance with their gender identity. Similar policies have been introduced elsewhere after transgender inmates sued for mistreatment.

Trans activists’ insistence that trans women be treated as women is also influencing federal lawmakers. On his first day in the White House, President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing agencies to consider anti-discrimination measures in which he said that “children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room or school sports.” The Equality Act, which he has promised to make law, would redefine the “sex” of the amendments of the Civil Rights Act to include “gender identity” (that is, a person’s sense of their gender regardless of whether they have taken cross-sex hormones or undergone surgery). The logical outcome of that would seem to be admitting trans women to spaces once reserved for women, from sports teams to prisons.

America needs federal legislation to protect trans people from discrimination: in many states there may be nothing illegal about a landlord refusing to rent an apartment to a trans person, for example. But policies grounded in the flawed conflation of biological sex and gender identity will lead to more problems than they solve, because they create a clash between the rights of women and those of trans women.

Prisons offer a particularly worrying example of this. There are two obvious problems with putting trans women in female prisons. The first concerns safety. Most trans women pose no threat to women. But denying the reality of biological sex ignores the fact that men are much the more violent of the two sexes. In America they commit 90% of murders and constitute 92% of the prison population. There is no evidence that trans women have lower levels of criminality than men.

California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) says the 130-plus prisoners who have so far requested they switch prisons (out of a trans population of around 1,000) are “predominantly” trans women. (This may also be because there are fewer trans men). Inmates’ requests to move are not granted automatically; they are assessed by a panel that is mindful that some male sex offenders will claim to be trans to gain access to victims.

But even if it were possible to weed out all sexual predators—some assaults, like flashing, rarely show up in criminal records —there would remain another, more widespread problem. Women’s right to separate spaces is not only about safety; it is also about privacy. “Women have a right to disrobe out of the sight of men,” says Ann Menasche, a lawyer with Feminists In Struggle which is lobbying to change the wording of the Equality Act. In prison that may be especially important. Most incarcerated women have suffered trauma: the American Civil Liberties Union says 92% of all women in California prisons have been “battered and abused”.

No one has surveyed female inmates about their views on how trans prisoners should be housed; “no one would dare, in the current climate,” says Ms Menasche. But it seems probable that most would rather not share a cell or shower with someone with the defining sex characteristics of a man. Most transwomen have not undergone “bottom surgery”: a survey by the National Centre of Transgender Equality found that 12% had undergone vaginoplasty or labiaplasty and 11% had a orchiectomy (the removal of one or more testicle).

How to balance the welfare of trans women and women inmates? When posed this question, transgender activists, who increasingly express dislike of the term “biological sex,” deny that any such tension exists. “Trans women are women,” says Shawn Meerkamper, a lawyer with the Transgender Law Centre, which helped draw up California’s new law.

The refusal to discuss any alternative to policies that ignore the meaning of “sex” precludes the exploration of better solutions. In Britain, the fear that allowing transwomen into women prisons endangers females prompted the establishment of a separate trans wing in a women’s prison in London. But this is unlikely to be copied in America: transgender-only spaces correspond with laws that protect transgender people as a separate category rather than those that count them as members of the sex with which they identify.

Changes to the way trans prisoners are housed are likely to come slowly. Guidelines introduced in 2012 that require all federal and state prisons to ask trans inmates whether they would feel safest in a men’s or women’s prison appear to have had little effect on where they are placed. But as more trans women enter women’s prisons, the problems this will entail will spark court cases. That may prompt a rethink. In the meantime, this policy will be tested at the expense of an unusually vulnerable and voiceless group.

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline “Prisoners’ dilemma”

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