Domestic abuser allowed into women's refuge after identifying as a female
A domestic abuser who made chilling threats to murder the mother of her child was allegedly allowed into a women's refuge shelter after beginning to identify as female.
While living as a man, Melissa Addis (formerly Mark Addis) spent six months on remand in a male prison in 2014 after sending death threats to her former partner, with one message even containing a photo of a dead body in a shroud.
However, when she was released, she began to identify as a transgender woman and was reportedly welcomed to make "almost daily" visits to the East London Women's Project, despite bosses being aware of her history.
According to a source, Addis threatened the vulnerable women staying at the hostel with violence - something she denies.
The Mail on Sunday reported that St Mungo’s, the homeless charity that runs the hostel, were aware of her conviction but still let her attend social functions including summer barbecues.
One St Mungo's source claimed Addis had caused "alarm and distress" to female residents at the women's shelter by behaving aggressively in front of them and alleged that she was told to leave the hostel for "violence and anti-social behaviour".
They stated: "Addis was in our trans hostel and coming into the women's hostel almost on a daily basis. She was coming into the women's hostel shouting, crying, threatening violence against the other trans women, but doing this in front of frightened, vulnerable women."
Addis disputes these allegations, telling the newspaper the manager at the refuge was "very nice" and let her watch TV.
The 44-year-old transgender woman added that bosses would have allowed her to stay there because she lives as a female now.
"I could have lived at the women's hostel myself if I had asked the lady in charge," she said. "They would have allowed me because I live as a female now. I got on with the girls. They classed me as a female."
The story comes after many charities changed their policies to allow transgender women into their establishments, even if they have not undergone gender reassignment surgery.
It has angered several domestic violence campaigners, with Erin Pizzey reportedly accusing charities of "betraying women" with the policy change.
Pizzey, who set up the world's first women's domestic violence hostel in Chiswick, West London, in 1971 told the Mail on Sunday: "The most important thing in women's hostels is their safety. If you add a male into a women's environment, it will cause havoc.
"It's completely unacceptable to have men who have not gone through any medical transition entering women-only spaces. I believe homeless charities are betraying women by introducing this new policy."
Karen Ingala-Smith, chief executive of the domestic and sexual violence charity Nia, also commented saying: "Homeless charities helping men who identify as transgender is a good thing but it should not be at the expense of women's safety, wellbeing and recovery.
"Allowing a male who identifies as transgender with a history of domestic violence to enter what is supposed to be a safe space for women just shows utter contempt for women in that space. Our revelations are the latest in a series of controversies about transgender rights."
Commenting on the Addis case, a St Mungo’s spokesman said they do not discuss "individual client circumstances".
"Safety is fundamental to our organisation, we have safeguarding policies and procedures in place to ensure clients, staff and volunteers are safe and respected, and we take action in line with those policies as necessary," they said. "Access to our services for trans people is determined by the same referral and assessment processes we use with all clients."
They continued: "Trans women are welcome in our women-only services and spaces, in accordance with the law and our values as a charity. St Mungo’s is a trans-inclusive organisation recognised by Stonewall as a top trans employer."