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MP calls for urgent review after trans woman sent to a men’s prison

Michelle O'Toole October 27, 2015

PinkNews Exclusive
Tory MP Ben Howlett, who sits on the Women and Equalities select Committee, has has called for an “urgent review” after a trans woman who has been sent to an all-male prison.

It emerged today that 26 year old trans woman Tara Hudson has been sentenced to 12 weeks in the all-male Bristol Prison.

Current policy states that a Gender Recognition Certificate is required for trans prisoners to be placed in the correct prison for their gender, which Ms Hudson did not have despite living full-time as female for six years.

Mr Howlett, the MP for Bath, said of the situation, “I have heard similar evidence in other cases about the challenges faced by the transgender community.

“In this case, I am particularly concerned as on the face of it, it does appear that the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Guidance does not appear to have been appropriately followed.

“Within NOMS there is a provision for transgender inmates, who do not have a Gender Recognition Certificate, to still be housed within the prison estate, under the gender they live if they are likely to meet the criteria required for a Gender Recognition Certificate.”

‘Someone like Tara, who has lived as a woman her whole adult life, and has undergone six years of gender reconstruction surgery, in my mind, clearly fits into this category. The nature of her crime does not seem to warrant her detention in male environment on security grounds. I have therefore written to the Prisons Minister, and highlighted the case to the Equalities Committee, requesting an urgent review of Tara’s case.

I will do all that I can to help Tara, and her family, through this period and I urge members of the public to sign the Change.org petition in support of Tara as I already have.”

It comes after a Ministry of Justice spokesperson declined to take action, telling PinkNews: “It is longstanding policy to place offenders according to their legally recognised gender.

“There are strict rules in place to ensure transsexual prisoners are managed safely and in accordance with the law.”

Transgender activists have long voices their concerns over the current pathway to legal gender recognition – including at the recent Transgender Equality inquiry held by Parliament’s Women’s and Equalities committee – of which Ben Howlett is a member.

Today trans people have started the hashtag #IseeTara, and are gathering on social media to put pressure on members of the Women and Equalities Committee, as well as those listed to give evidence in tomorrow’s transgender equality inquiry.

Earlier this month, Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee heard about flaws in the current GRC process, at its third meeting of its transgender inquiry.

James Morton of the Scottish Transgender Alliance told Parliament : “You send in a big wad of documents and then they pick those apart and they send you back a ‘legalese’ document complaining that various parts aren’t in order and people get incredibly stressed out about it.”

“We have also had to support a number of trans people who’ve been really traumatised and humiliated by the process.”

Last month, the government received a parliamentary petition with over 30,000 signatures calling for a simple system of gender self-declaration, as is currently in operation on the Republic of Ireland.

However, the government insisted that “the state has a legitimate interest in ensuring that people who take on a new legal status can establish that they meet certain criteria.”

It claimed that “a person’s gender has important legal and social consequences”, adding: “The required statements and evidence are limited to what is necessary to establish that an applicant meets the criteria for recognition.”

 

More: Ben Howlett, Conservative, mp, Tara Hudson, Tory

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