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UK Government Just Quietly Banned Trans Women From Female Prisons

British policemen outside Westminster

In a document published late in the evening on January 25, British Justice Secretary Dominic Raab announced that trans women with “male genitalia” or those who have been convicted of a sexual offense will no longer be sentenced to female prisons.

“Under the reforms, transgender women with male genitalia, or those who have been convicted of a sexual offence, should no longer be held in the general women’s estate,” reads the statement. “This will create a strong presumption, but allow for exemptions to be considered by Ministers on a case-by-case basis—though only the most truly exceptional cases will be considered.”

No further information on what these “exceptional cases” include has been given, but the grouping of trans women with male genitalia and those who have committed sexual offenses does in itself fall back on the dangerous image of trans women as sexual predators.

What’s more, with the recent blocks to reform the process of getting a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), the current attitude of sending trans women without a GRC to male prisons only serves to highlight the need to improve GRC application processes. At the moment, anyone wanting to get a GRC that allows them to change legal documents to match their gender must:

  • be at least 18 years of age;
  • have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria or equivalent
  • have lived in your new gender for at least two years
  • intend to live in your new gender for the rest of your life

Proving all of these criteria has been proven time and again to be an onerous process and the latest decision from Raab means that the need to get one has got ever greater.

The latest data from the Ministry of Justice states that there are 230 transgender prisoners out of a British prison population of 78,058, including 168 trans women, 42 trans men, 13 non-binary people, and seven who identified differently or did not provide a response.

As it stands, there is no obligation for prisons to move trans prisoners to a different prison in accordance with their wishes. According to the Ministry for Justice. 90% of trans women are housed in male prisons and “most” do not request to move.

“The safety of all prisoners is paramount,” closed the statement. “These changes will ensure a sensitive and common-sense approach to meeting the needs of women in custody, while we continue to ensure that transgender prisoners are appropriately supported in whichever estate they are located in.”

Raab’s announcement comes hot on the heels of various allegations of bullying from as many as 24 civil servants. This wouldn’t be the first time that trans issues may have been used to deflect attention away from the (many) issues faced by the Conservative Party.

(featured image: Noralí Nayla on Unsplash)

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