Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/877/21676
Transgender woman locked up in male prison by senseless courts
Brian Caton, Former prison officer and general secretary of prison officers' union POA
Tara Hudson, a transgender woman, was locked up in an all-male prison after her conviction for assault.
It seems the courts may now have moved her to a female prison, after national media coverage and a 160,000-name petition. But it should never have happened in the first place.
When asked to sign the petition for this woman, who has lived as such all her adult life, l had absolutely no difficulty supporting it.
Transgender women in male prisons are always at risk.
Prison managers know this. They isolate such prisoners. This prevents access to rehabilitation, ties up staff and can be severely damaging to the inmate.
Prisoners still have human and civil rights, which are not removed by the act of imprisonment.
You wouldn't put any other woman in a male prison. It is only the bureaucracy and bigotry of the judicial system which insists the decision rests on the 'official' gender on your passport.
It also seems that, like most in-mates, Tara may have some mental health problems. More than 70% of prisoners in England and Wales have two or more mental health disorders.
Transgender people are already more at risk of depression than others. Subjecting them to harassment and isolation only makes this worse.
It took me back in time. As a newly appointed prison officer, I faced all these difficulties. The duty of care falls not on the decision makers, but those carrying out their foolish instructions.
What should the justice system do to solve this problem? It's simple - apply common sense. When we locate transgender women in female prisons it works.
The Socialist Party calls for:
- A united campaign by LGBT people, minority communities and trade unions to end prejudice in criminal justice
- An end to transphobic sentencing
- All transgender people to have access to fully funded, readily available, gender-appropriate services and support
In The Socialist 4 November 2015:
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