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Trans woman demands move to female prison

Ramsey DeHani July 24, 2009
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A trans woman who is serving life for manslaughter and attempted rape has claimed that the refusal to move her to a women’s prison is a violation of her human rights.

The inmate, known only as ‘Prisoner A’, has already had her new gender recognised by law and her birth certificate changed, under the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

Speaking to the High Court, the prisoner’s lawyer said that keeping her in a men’s prison was a violation of the right to respect for her private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Barrister Phillipa Kaufman also described her as “a woman trapped inside a man’s body”.

She told the court how the prisoner was desperate to get her gender reassignment surgery, but that medics refused to perform the procedure until she had lived as a woman for a significant amount of time, which would only be possible in a women’s prison.

Deputy judge David Elvin QC heard how she was forbidden from wearing skirts or blouses, and only allowed “subtle” make up at the men’s prison, where she is being held on a “vulnerable prisoners” wing.

The prisoner, who was still legally identified as male at the time of her conviction, has already had the hair on her face and legs permanently removed by laser, and has developed breasts through hormone treatment.

Kaufman said: “If she remains in the male estate, she is looking at the bleakest future in terms of what matters to her.”

“What she would have in the female estate is hope,” she continued, “hope that she will be able to live in role and persuade her doctors that she should have gender reassignment surgery”.

Prisoner A is serving time for the strangulation of her boyfriend and the attempted rape of a shop assistant.

While she has served her minimum jail term, she has already been denied parole on the grounds that she remains an unacceptable risk to the public.

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