Thompson law NEWS & ARTICLES

Prison transgender headaches

A judge has said that having transgender women in female prisons increases the risk of sexual assault. However he stated that the rules on where they are held do not need to change.

A female prisoner, named only as FDJ, brought a legal challenge against the Ministry of Justice for allowing transgender inmates to serve their sentence in a prison that corresponds with their gender identity.

Lawyers representing the woman argued that placing trans women with a history of sexual violence in female prisons put other inmates at risk. However, two High Court judges found that although it may appear “inappropriate” for a transgender prisoner, possibly with a “masculine physique and male genitalia”,to be held in a women’s prison, that the Government had sufficient checks and balances in place to reduce any risks.

The judges were told that during two months in 2019 there were 34 transgender inmates in women’s prisons, seven of whom were sex offenders. However, Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with Mr Justice Swift, said he believed specialist panels could ensure that those who posed a risk were moved to a male prison, kept on a specialist wing or only allowed to meet cis females under supervision. He found that rules on how such prisoners were held balanced the “sensitive” rights of transgender people with the need to protect women’s rights.

Speaking on the verdict, the Ministry of Justice said: “We are pleased the court agrees that the way we manage transgender offenders strikes the right balance between protecting their legal rights and ensuring the safety of all prisoners.”