Transgender prisoners ‘should be allowed to express their gender’ behind bars

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The government has concluded a review a review of the treatment of transgender people in the justice system, after a number of shocking cases in which women were sent to men’s prisons.

The government promised a review last year of the way trans people in prisons are dealt with, after two female prisoners died within weeks of each-other while being held in all-male facilities.

A third prisoner, Tara Hudson, was moved to a female facility after a public campaign – and since her release has been vocal in criticising her treatment.

The review, overseen by Peter Dawson of the Prison Reform Trust and Jay Stewart of Gendered Intelligence, was published this week – aimed at reforming National Offender Management Service procedures.

It directs: “People who are living in a gender different to that of their assigned sex at birth should, as a general presumption, be treated by offender management services according to the gender in which they identify.

“Clear, reasonable criteria should be applied from the outset for all transgender people who receive a binary (i.e. either a male or female) service from NOMS, where it is required.

“This process should be free from bias, follow a clear, recorded process and be undertaken by staff who have a sound basic awareness of transgender identity, with
access to specialist advice.

“The transgender person must be fully involved with face-to-face assessment and the giving of reasons both orally and in writing.”

However, the document also states that trans people can be sent to prisons if there is a ‘lack of evidence’ of their gender identity.

It states: “There will be circumstances when a transgender person’s location cannot be straightforwardly reconciled with their views.

“This may be due to a lack of evidence (or the presence of counter evidence) relating to the gender in which they identify and/or concerns raised via an assessment of all known risks, indicating they cannot be safely managed in a prison that does match their self-identified gender. Guidance on how NOMS staff weigh evidence and risk should accompany any new instruction.

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