Trans prisoner Tara Hudson: ‘I felt like an animal in a zoo’

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A trans woman who was sent to a male prison says she felt ‘persecuted’ during her time behind bars.

Tara Hudson is calling for reforms to UK prisons after being treated “like an animal” during her incarceration at an all male prison last year.

Ms Hudson says she was kept in her cell during her six-week 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.”

Ms 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 a man, as she never went through the bureaucratic process to get a gender recognition certificate.

She was finally transferred to a female prison following a national outcry, but claims the system is still failing trans inmates.

Just a month after Ms 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.

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,” Ms Hudson said following her release.

“I will do whatever I can to get this law changed. I can’t not.”