A trans woman has opened up about her experience in an all-male prison – where she was forced to flash her breasts and lived in fear of sexual assault.
Bath woman Tara Hudson was jailed for 12 weeks earlier this year over an assault – but she was sent to the all-male HMP Bristol despite having lived as a woman for years.
Ms Hudson was sent to the prison as she never went through the bureaucratic process to get a gender recognition certificate – though after a public pressure campaign that saw 150,000 people petition, she was moved to a female facility.
Ms Hudson, who was released at the beginning of this month, revealed to the Western Daily Press that she was strip searched by male guards, forced to flash her breasts to male inmates, and lived in constant fear of rape.
She said: “When I walked into the prison, it was like a cat with five legs had entered the building. They were like animals in a zoo – shouting and banging on the doors.”
The prisoner was forced to move cells three times because the abuse got so bad.
She explained: “One whole side of the wing – about ten men – was shouting at me on my first night.
“Within hours of being there, I was bullied into showing my breasts through the hatch in my door.
“I thought if I didn’t do what they said, they would keep hassling me or do something worse. It was pretty scary. I just wanted them to stop.
“There was this tense, violent atmosphere – always. It was just so full of testosterone and anger. I really felt like I didn’t belong there.”
Even after Ms Hudson was moved to the all-female Eastwood Park, she says she was kept secluded from other inmates, while officials referred to her as “Mr Tara Hudson”.
Amid a government review of the prison system, Ms Hudson has called for the complex legal process of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate to be scrapped or vastly simplified.
Ireland recently adopted a revolutionary system that makes changing legal gender as simple as renewing a passport.
She told the newspaper that “more people will kill themselves if changes aren’t made” – after the deaths of two other trans prisoners who were also kept in male prisons.
Ms Hudson added: “Transgender rights are 20 years behind gay rights. It is something that is only starting to come into the spotlight now.
“I will do whatever I can to get this law changed. I can’t not.”