Trans-Identified Sex Offender Becomes Prison Abolitionist

Gender identity activism provides cover for predators

‘Jessica Phoenix’ Sylvia (né Ernest Andrew Sylvia), a convicted sex offender currently incarcerated in Washington state, opened a Twitter account in April of this year to promote the transfer of convicted male offenders under the guise of an organization called the Gender Identity Justice Campaign. On his website, Sylvia describes himself as a “queer theorist” and advertises himself as a public speaker.

The Gender Identity Justice Campaign is little more than a website run by Sylvia, but despite this, several reporters for mainstream media outlets have followed Sylvia’s Twitter account, being run from prison, including:

- Susie Armatage, with bylines in NPR, New Republic, ProPublica, and Atlas Obscura
- Julia Sklar, a science journalism instructor at MIT
- Michelle Delgado, writer for Smithsonian Magazine, Vox, and The Atlantic
Jill Langlois, who has written for The New York Times
Abigail Glasgow, with bylines in Vanity Fair, Bustle, Paper Magazine, and Vox
Katharine Gammon, who has written for The Guardian, The Atlantic, The New York Times and Esquire
- Colleen Hagerty, a journalist who has written for BBC
- Jessica Bateman, who has written for BBC, Telegraph, and The Guardian
Jessica Schulberg, a senior reporter for Huffington Post
Rebecca Long, a writer for Slate, Bitch, and Boston Globe
- Emily Elena Dugdale, a board member for the LA Press Club
Jo Yurcaba, a reporter for NBC Out
Annika Ojala, an alternate to the European representatives in the International Lesbian and Gay Association Board, which regularly petitions the United Nations
- Danielle Muscato, a trans-identified male who has been quoted or featured in The New York Times, CNN, Rolling Stone, NPR, and has been photographed with celebrities (including Jameela Jamil)

The list goes on. Of Sylvia’s 225 Twitter followers, the vast majority are involved in journalism, academic research, and the US’ growing prison abolition movement. Of course, simply following someone on social media is not necessarily indicative of support, yet most of those who do follow Sylvia have listed their pronouns, which suggests a tacit endorsement of his campaigning.

Incredibly, not one of these journalists appears to have noticed that Sylvia is a convicted sex offender (Ernest Andrew Sylvia), who is currently serving a prison sentence for possessing child sexual abuse materials, or that he was also convicted of attempted murder.

Sylvia’s criminal record lists the following charges and convictions:
1) Possession Of Depictions Of Minor Engaged In Sexually Explicit Conduct
2) Failure To Register As A Sex Offender
3) Attempted Murder In The First Degree
4) Interfering With The Reporting Of Domestic Violence

The official legal records also list his ethnicity as ‘white’, but that hasn’t stopped Sylvia from claiming to be a ‘trans woman of color’.

On Sunday, September 12, California-based outlet Truthout published an op-ed written by Sylvia titled “As Prison Staff Try to Erase Queer and Trans Folks, We Assert Our Right to Exist”, in which he states: “Queer possibilities defy prescriptive norms and sometimes move across areas of race and gender, challenging hegemonic masculinities and institutionalized violence,” and “I am still dreaming of a transgender takeover.” Truthout, founded in 2009, is a nonprofit news organization that describes itself as a type of journalism in pursuit of justice.

The case of ‘Jessica Phoenix’ Sylvia is far from the first example of a dangerous man being shielded by gender identity ideology and endorsed by activists and media.

In January 2021, Razvan Sibii, a senior lecturer in journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, wrote despairingly of “the story of a woman confined to a men’s maximum security prison” in reference to Patricia Elaine Trimble, a trans-identified male who raped two nine-year old girls and raped, pimped and tortured another male inmate before killing him. Sibii said of Trimble, “Trimble’s advocacy for, and mentoring of, LGBTQ people in prison acquired a state-wide reputation in 2018,” and “Only when we’re capable of respecting the human rights of someone like Patricia Elaine Trimble, a person relegated to the very margins of our society, we’ll know we’ve made true progress.”

Patrick Edward Trimble was convicted on two counts of kidnapping, four counts of sodomy, one count of rape and one count of sexual abuse in the first degree. He had previously been sentenced to death by gas chamber, which was commuted to life in prison. According to court records, while incarcerated Trimble singled out Jerry Everett, who was “mentally slow and may never have fully comprehended what was happening to him.” Trimble “treated the victim as his ‘punk’ or homosexual partner. He forced the victim to have both oral and anal intercourse with him, compelled him to wear a bra around the jail for the entertainment of the other inmates… and offered to sell him to a jail trustee for a carton of cigarettes.” In order to prevent Everett from informing authorities about the ongoing sexual abuse, Trimble hung him to death and attempted to pass the murder off as a suicide.

Trimble is listed as a contributing writer for the Prison Journalism Project, which describes itself as “independent journalism by the incarcerated”. In 2019, Trimble was sympathetically interviewed by Vice, where he describes how, after being sexually assaulted in prison in 2015, he began writing to LGBT organizations. One of these organizations sent Trimble a pamphlet in the mail which described ‘gender dysphoria’, and in 2018 Trimble was given a prescription for estradiol and testosterone blockers and began advocating for sex self-identification policies for violent male convicts. Trimble began a letter-writing network among other trans-identified male prisoners which educates them on how to politically organize for transfers into women’s prisons.

According to Vice, “Trimble’s strongest ally in her activism is Jessica Hicklin, a fellow inmate without whom she likely wouldn’t have gotten access to hormone therapy.” Jessica (James) Hicklin is serving a life sentence in the state of Missouri for murder, and with the help of Lambda Legal, a legal non-profit focused on LGBTQ rights, he successfully sued the MDOC and its private health care provider, Corizon Health, for access to female hormones, costing taxpayers $300,000.

In 2014, trans-identified celebrity Laverne Cox published a video in support of a trans-identified inmate called ‘Synthia China Blast’, né Luis Morales, who was convicted for the rape, murder, and abuse of the corpse of a 13 year-old girl named Ebony Williams. According to an article in The Advocate, “What Cox was seemingly unaware of at the time she agreed to record the video were the crimes of which Blast had been found guilty.”

Obviously, Cox would have been unaware of the crimes committed by Morales because he had changed his name, obscuring his criminal record and the brutal nature of his crimes. Morales was a member of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a New York-based organization which publishes resources instructing inmates on how to change their names and legal documents:

“Under the law, trans people are not required to show medical evidence of our transitions to change our names. Most of the time, judges correctly follow the law. If your name change gets denied because you did not include medical evidence, you can either seek legal help to get your name change or you can submit the medical evidence to speed up the process.”

US prisons are notoriously dangerous, and even moreso for males who are convicted of child sexual abuse. What pedophile in his right mind would turn down the opportunity to transfer into a women’s prison, safe from the threat of being killed by a cellmate? What sex offender would refuse the chance to change his name, thereby rendering null the requirement to be listed on a sex offender registry, erasing his crimes from public consciousness?

In the UK, more than 16,000 registered sex offenders breached their Harm Prevention Orders to notify authorities of any changes in their information, including of their legal names, over the past five years. More than 900 registered sex offenders went ‘missing’ between 2017 and 2020, and that data was obtained from within only 16 of the 43 police forces that responded to Freedom of Information requests. According to an investigation by The Times, convicted child sex abusers changed their names by deed poll, did not inform authorities, and used their new identity to gain access to children.

Pedophiles can even be potentially granted access to children from within prison. Take, for example, the case of Mark Campbell, convicted of raping his own daughter, which caused her such distress that she has attempted suicide several times. In prison he began ‘identifying as a woman’, and in December 2020 a judge in Wisconsin ordered the state to fund a surgery that will allow him to be transferred to a woman’s facility. If Campbell is later transferred, it will likely be to Taycheedah Correctional Institution, which hosts a summer camp for children and mothers.

In April of this year, Illinois adopted a policy of allowing inmates to change their legal names while still incarcerated: “The bill crafts exceptions to the Arsonist Registration Act, the Sex Offender Registration Act, and the Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registration Act for persons who want to change their name due to… gender-related identity.” Astoundingly, the policy was intended to protect victims of trafficking and of domestic violence, who are in need of extra protections and are overwhelmingly women. Last year, a woman in Illinois’ Logan Correctional Center accused trans-identified inmate Janiah Monroe (Andre Patterson) of rape, claiming that she was discounted and punished by prison staff for reporting the assault. Patterson was also accused of sexual assault by several other women, and had discontinued ‘hormone therapy’ upon arrival at the women’s facility. While in a men’s institution, Patterson had murdered a cellmate, strangling him with his bare hands.

Several US states, including Washington state, where Sylvia is incarcerated, have implemented policies allowing male convicts to transfer into women’s prisons should they claim to possess a female mind in a male body — a religious belief clearly unsubstantiated by science or reason. According to an investigation by Women’s Liberation Front, “At least seven men are currently housed in Washington women’s prisons, including Donna (Douglas) Perry, convicted of serially murdering victims of prostitution, and Hobbie Bingham ('Princess Zoee Marie Andromeda Love'), convicted of raping a 12-year old girl.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is currently seeking to expand sex self-identification policies in prisons to other areas of the US, and is involved in a lawsuit in Washington, DC, to this aim.

It is mad-making to witness journalists for major US publications supporting the ‘right’ of sex offenders, pedophiles, and murderers to legally change their identity, misappropriate womanhood, and be incarcerated with a vulnerable population of women, the majority of whom are themselves victims of male violence. Journalists, activists, and human rights organizations alike are failing women and children, in thrall to a toxic ideology that positions abusive men as helpless victims, and paints as bigots those who object to their predatory demands. As J. K. Rowling said in an essay published to her website in June 2020, “I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it.”