A trans woman who was sent to an all-male prison has now been moved to a female one, sources tell PinkNews.
It emerged this week 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.
The Ministry of Justice has repeatedly declined to intervene in the case – but senior sources in Whitehall and Parliament have today confirmed to PinkNews that she will be moved to a female facility, HM Prison Eastwood Park.
Ben Howlett MP told PinkNews “We have had contact confirming that Tara has been moved… I’m really pleased to hear that she has been transferred to a female prison, and will no longer be held in a male facility.”
“He added: This afternoon we have heard from a source that Tara has been taken from Court to an all-female prison. We will be pressing the Ministry of Justice for a formal line following this and work to ensure there is no repeat of this situation in future.
“We look forward to the outcome of the Trans-Inquiry from the Women & Equalities Select Committee to ensure others are spared Tara’s ordeal.”
The news comes after a petition in support of Ms Hudson was signed by more 100,000 people, with backing from her MP Ben Howlett and Lib Dem leader Tim Farron.
A number of senior sources in Westminster and Whitehall have confirmed that the prisoner has now been moved to a female prison – a decision which is understood to have been made by the prison service.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron told PinkNews: “It is welcome news that Tara has been moved to a female prison. But she shouldn’t have gone to a male prison to begin with.
“I urge the Justice Secretary [Michael Gove] to use this case as an opportunity to fix the system.”
In order to receive a Gender Recognition Certificate at present, trans people must pay a £140 fee, and secure letters from medical professionals, evidence of having lived in their “chosen gender”, and approval from a gender recognition panel.
Due to the vast number of requirements, some trans people spend years living without legal recognition.
A protest was held outside the Ministry of Justice earlier today in support of Ms Hudson, before the news was announced.
A number of trans activists accused the MoJ and prison service of treating Ms Hudson in an unfair way.
Justice and Equalities Minister Caroline Dinenage was asked about the case during yesterday’s Women and Equalities Select Committee, and pledged a number of reforms.
The Tory minister said: “As much as I would love to speak about the individual natures of this case, I could be committing a criminal offence if I do so – I can’t go into the individual details of [Tara’s] case.
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“To talk more generally about decisions on trans prisoners: The first thing to say – the absolute fundamental underlying concern is the safety of that prisoner and indeed the safety of the wider prison population as well.
“What happens when a decision is made on prison location someone is going to go into is that their legal gender will be determined by the birth certificate or gender recognition certificate if there is one.
“If there isn’t, then an individual decision has to be taken on the basis of the location for that particular trans prisoner, and that has to be done on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the individual needs of that particular prisoner.
Once that decision has been made, it’s not game over – that case will be discussed on arrival in prison in a case conference, where all the different stakeholders in that case will be brought together
“Until that point, that person will be protected from the mainstream prison estate – they won’t just be left in the normal prison estate as a normal prisoner.”
She added: “We want to do more on this, which is why their is guidance that’s being updated to take into consideration everything we know and everything we’re learning about the trans population in our prisons. That new guidance is in draft form at the moment and will hopefully be issued before Christmas.
“In addition to that, there is a new equality information form we hope to introduce very shortly – that will actually happen at the very earliest stages that someone engages with the criminal justice system, so they can disclose that sort of information, which will very much help the judges when making decisions about where that person is going to go. Also it will help the prison governors and staff when they decide upon a location.
“The key message is that our guidance was originally issued in 2011, and a lot has changed – we’ve had many more trans prisoners through the doors of our prisons.
“We’re learning all the time, and the key things are their protection and that everyone must be seen as an individual. Their individual needs must be met within this protection sphere.”