Should trans prisoners be sent to women’s or men’s prisons? New poll reveals what Brits think

Most British people believe trans women who have not had gender affirming surgery – and have committed a sexual assault or rape – should be housed in men’s prisons, a new poll has revealed.

The YouGov research published on Tuesday (31 January), examines how attitudes differ depending on the crime committed and whether or not the offender has had ‘full’ gender reassignment surgery.

The YouGov research found 59 per cent of Britons believe trans women who have been convicted of rape or sexual assault, and have not undergone ‘full’ gender reassignment surgery, should serve their sentence in a men’s facility. 

Of those surveyed, 27 per cent were ‘unsure’ and just 15 per cent believe such offenders should be housed in women-only prisons. 

The survey also found most people believe a trans woman, who has undergone gender affirming surgery and has committed a non-violent, non-sexual crime, should be jailed in a women’s prison.

It comes after the controversy of Isla Bryson, a sex offender found guilty by Glasgow’s High Court of raping two women prior to transitioning

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In recent days, the Scottish government has come under fire for remanding Bryson to a women’s prison following her conviction. 

It then announced on Monday (30 January), it would pause the movement of trans prisoners, with a history of violence, to women-only jails

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Deputy leader of the Scottish National Party and justice secretary, Keith Brown, said there would be an “urgent review” into several cases of trans women charged with assaulting women.

Nicola Sturgeon in Holyrood during a parliamentary debate.
Nicola Sturgeon announced Isla Bryson would be housed in a men’s prison. (Getty)

The YouGov poll found Women’s and men’s views are largely identical: 57 per cent of men and 61 per cent of women say a trans woman who has not had “full” gender affirming surgery and has committed a rape or sexual assault should go to a men’s prison, with only 14 to 15 per cent saying they should go to a women’s prison.

The research found 70 per cent of Conservative voters and 50 per cent of Labour voters believe trans women sex offenders who have not had full reassignment surgery should go to a men’s prison.

Notably, those living in Scotland – the setting for the recent trans prisoner debate – believe offenders like Isla Bryson should go to a men’s prison at the same rate (59 per cent) as the wider UK.

The YouGov poll has revealed British people believe trans woman without gender affirming surgery should be housed in men’s prisons (YouGov)

YouGov researchers also asked where trans women convicted of rape or sexual assault should be held if they had received ‘full’ gender reassignment surgery. 

In this scenario, 31 per cent of Britions who believe trans woman prisoners should be held in a men’s establishment.

The number of people surveyed who were ‘unsure’ remained around the same, at 31 per cent, while 38 per cent believe these offenders should be housed in women-only prisons.  

When it comes to trans women offenders who have committed non-violent, non-sexual crimes, 48 per cent of Britons say they should be in a men’s prison if they have not had full gender reassignment surgery, compared with 20 per cent who say they should be in a men’s prison if they have had full surgery.

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Men, older Britons, and Conservative voters are less likely than their female, younger and Labour counterparts to think that trans women prisoners should go to women’s prisons (YouGov)

Overall, YouGov found the Britons surveyed see the crime involved as a less important factor than than whether or not the prisoner has had gender reassignment surgery.

The researchers state: “When comparing the results by whether or not the offender has had full reassignment surgery, the proportion of people saying a trans woman offender who has not had full surgery should go to men’s prison is 28 points higher than the number saying an offender who has had full surgery should do so. 

“By contrast, when comparing the results by whether or not the offender has committed rape or sexual assault, the gap is only 11 points.”

The data also revealed men, older Britons, and Conservative voters are less likely than their female, younger and Labour counterparts to think trans women prisoners should go to women’s prisons.

“Every social group is more likely to say that a trans woman who committed sex crimes but has had full gender reassignment surgery should be in a women’s prison than a trans woman who committed non-violent, non-sexual crimes but has not had full gender reassignment surgery.

“All groups tend to believe that transgender women offenders who have had full gender reassignment surgery and committed non-violent, non-sexual offences should be in women’s prisons,” the researchers concluded.

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