Court date set for trans ex-prisoner Tara Hudson suing government for discrimination
A court date has been set for a trans woman – and former prisoner – who is suing the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for discrimination.
She is suing the government department for damages, after she was allegedly mistreated and made to stay in an all-male Bristol prison, despite identifying as a woman – an experience she described as “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive.”
Hudson has previously called for reforms to UK prisons after saying she was treated “like an animal” during her six-week incarceration.
The hearing will be held over four days in late September, after it was postponed from the original date in April, according to Somerset Live.
In court papers, seen by the Observer, government officials argue that Hudson is “as a matter of biological fact a man,” and that the term “transwoman” does not hold legal significance.
Hudson, who was sentenced after she admitted head-butting a barman, has lived as a woman most of her life but was sent to a male prison as she is legally considered a man because she does not have a gender recognition certificate.
Hudson’s lawyers want a court declaration to state that Hudson was discriminated against, arguing that government officials have used “transphobic and insulting” language in response to her claims.
The Guardian reports this could be the first time the MoJ has been found guilty mistreated a prisoner because of their gender reassignment.
Hudson has said she was kept in her cell during her stay at HMP Bristol, and was segregated from other prisoners due to her gender identity.
“I could tell that they weren’t really ready for a prisoner like myself,” she told the BBC.
“Because of my gender identity they felt they had to lock me up in segregation and keep me away from the main population of the prison.
“I felt like I was being persecuted by the state. I felt I had no rights. I felt like an animal in a zoo.”
She was finally transferred to a female prison following a national outcry, but claims the system is still failing trans inmates. More than 150,000 people signed a petition calling for her to be moved to women’s prison.
Just a month after Hudson was moved to HMP Eastwood women’s prison, two trans prisoners died within weeks of each other while being kept in all-male facilities.
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Inquests were opened into the successive deaths of Vikki Thompson at HMP Leeds, and Joanne Latham at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes, with The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) pledging to review what improvements can be made.
Despite the repeated issue, the government has declined to take emergency action to identify other trans prisoners – opting to wait until the review concludes before undertaking further measures.
“Transgender rights are 20 years behind gay rights. It is something that is only starting to come into the spotlight now,” Hudson said following her release.
“I will do whatever I can to get this law changed. I can’t not.”