New guidelines state rights for transgender prisoners

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New Ministry of Justice guidelines set out rights for transgender prisoners, including what they may wear and how prison staff should treat them.

The rules, which come into force on March 14th, tell prison officers that they must allow trans prisoners to wear make-up, gender appropriate clothing and prostheses, such as bra inserts.

The document says: “An establishment must permit prisoners who consider themselves transsexual and wish to begin gender reassignment to live permanently in their acquired gender.

“Transsexual people, particularly those who have not undergone surgery or extended hormone therapy, may use various items to assist with their presentation in their acquired gender. These can range from sophisticated prostheses to padded bras.

“Regardless of their level of sophistication, access to them can only be restricted in exceptional circumstances.

“These items may only be prohibited when it can be demonstrated that they present a security risk which cannot be reasonably mitigated.”

Transgender people who are undergoing medical treatment to change sex are required to live in the sex they are changing to for a period of time. This is known as real life experience or real life test.

The guidelines say trans prisoners will be permitted to order appropriate clothes at their own expense and staff should address them by their chosen names and titles. Prison officers must currently address inmates as Mr, Miss or Ms.

Trans women who are legally recognised in their new gender must be placed in female prisons unless there are security reasons not to do so, the document says.

Those who have not yet acquired a Gender Recognition Certificate will not automatically be placed in the appropriate prison. Instead, the document says, a meeting will be held to determine where they should be placed.

Rules say: “This is a legal issue rather than an anatomical one, and under no circumstances should a physical search or examination be conducted for this purpose.”

Trans campaigners estimate that there are between 20 and 30 trans individuals in UK prisons at any time.