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Nine out of 10 trans inmates are in the wrong prison for their gender

Reiss Smith November 29, 2019
The prison where Oscar Wilde served time for gay sex is for sale

Interior of Reading Gaol (Dan Kitwood/Getty)

Government figures have revealed that while more than half of UK prisons house transgender prisoners, less than one-tenth of trans inmates are in the correct facility for their gender.

A Ministry of Justice report said that of 163 trans inmates in England and Wales, only 11 are housed in the correct facility for their gender.

Officials counted 130 trans women in the prison system. Worryingly, 119 of those were housed in men’s prisons, with a further 11 in women’s prisons.

The MoJ also reported 20 trans men – all of whom are in women’s prisons.

A further 13 trans prisoners did not identify with either of the binary genders.

The report continued: “Prisoners were asked to specify another identity and 88 gave a response – 15 identified as gender-fluid, eight as transvestite, seven as intersex, six as non-binary and the remaining 51 preferred not to say.”

Ten of the prisoners identified as black, asian or ethnic minority (BAME).

The report means that of every 1,000 prisoners in England and Wales, at least two are trans. Last year’s figures found 139 trans inmates, meaning an increase of 24.

Ministry of Justice figures underestimate number of trans prisoners.

These figures do not account for trans people who have obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). Rather, the MoJ defines trans inmates as “individuals known within prison to be currently living in, or are presenting in, a gender different to their sex assigned at birth.”

The report admitted: “The figures give an estimate of the number of transgender prisoners and are likely to underestimate the true number.

“There might be some transgender prisoners who have not declared that they are transgender or had a local transgender case board, and some who have a Gender Recognition Certificate.”

A Stonewall spokesperson told PinkNews: “Many trans people in prison face particular vulnerabilities in custody, including bullying, discrimination and harassment.

“It’s vital that all trans people in prison are treated with dignity and respect, so better training to support prison staff is needed to ensure their needs are met.”

In February, The Sunday Times quoted justice minister Ed Argar as saying that the government was revising guidelines on trans inmates. He reportedly said that the “great majority” of trans prisoners should be allowed to “experience the system in the gender in which they identify.”

At the time, a MoJ spokesperson told PinkNews that as it stands, inmates are remanded in custody in accordance with their “legally recognised gender unless there are exceptional circumstances.”

If an inmate does not self-identify with their legal gender then a Transgender Case Board is held to “decide upon the location” of where the individual is to be imprisoned.

The spokesperson said that a “review is ongoing and no final decisions have been made.”

Since then, a dedicated prison wing for transgender inmates has opened within HMP Downview, a women’s prison in Sutton, south London, initially catering for just three trans women, all of whom have obtained a GRC.

PinkNews has contacted the MoJ for further comment on this story.

 

 

More: ministry of justice, trans prisoners

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