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Trans prisoners with ‘male genitalia’ banned from women’s prisons by Tory minister Dominic Raab

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Dominic Raab

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab announced on Wednesday (25 January) that the government will no longer place trans women who have ‘male genitalia’ in women’s prisons. 

The latest data from the Ministry of Justice shows there are 230 transgender prisoners out of a prison population of 78,058.

Of these 230 prisoners, 168 identified as trans women, 42 as trans men, 13 as non-binary and seven identified in a different way or did not provide a response.

On 4 October last year, the then-justice secretary Brandon Lewis announced plans to reform the government’s policy on where transgender prisoners are allocated. 

Under the reforms, the Ministry of Justice has said transgender women with “male genitalia” – or those who have been convicted of a sexual offence – should no longer be held in general women’s prisons.

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The ministry said this will “create a strong presumption” but also allow for exemptions to be considered by ministers on a “case-by-case basis”. 

However, the department noted that only the “most truly exceptional cases” will be considered.

Currently, the government estimates that 90 per cent of trans women in prison are housed in men’s prisons, saying “most do not request a move to a women’s prison”. 

The government’s current procedure is transgender women without a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) are initially sent to a male prison as “a matter of course”.

The Prison Service has “no obligation to move transgender prisoners according to their wishes”.

Current trans prisoners will undergo a ‘thorough assessment’

In regards to trans women who are currently housed in women’s prisons, the Ministry of Justice said there would be a “thorough assessment of individuals – both the risks to them and any risks they pose to others – before any move is considered”.

They added that transgender women who “cannot be held safely in either the male or female estate” could be held in a specialist unit.

Following Wednesday’s announcement, the government said it will publish an updated policy framework that will set out the new guidance in detail and how it will be implemented by the Prison Service. 

This new policy will take effect after the government has published the revised framework.

“The safety of all prisoners is paramount. 

“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,” the Ministry for Justice said in a statement. 

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