Prison chiefs reject calls for male-bodied transgender inmates to be separated from other women
Calls to separate transgender inmates from other women prisoners over safety concerns have been rejected by prison chiefs, The Herald reports.
Campaigners have claimed that current policy, which provides that male-bodied transgender prisoners should be housed in women’s prisons, is putting people at risk.
The head of a criminal justice charity recently said UK prisons should review their policies, warning that those intended to protect transgender people could be abused.
Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Open University, said: “It does not need spelling out why keeping male and female prisoners in separate accommodation should be one of the minimum expectations for the treatment of prisoners.
“This important principle has, though, been somewhat eroded by attempts to accommodate those prisoners who assert a gender identity at odds with their birth sex.”
Mr Garside said it was concerning that male-bodied prisoners were being transferred to women’s prisons, simply because they asserted a female identity.
“While some transgender prisoners will no doubt sincerely hold beliefs about their gender identity, the system is obviously open to abuse.”
“There are numerous reasons why this should be the case. Highly vulnerable, often traumatised, prisoners are the rule, not the exception, in women’s prisons. Many have faced male sexual violence and exploitation,” he added.
“Consider what it must be like for women who have experienced male violence to have males imprisoned alongside them.
“The Prison Service needs to give serious thought to transgender wings or other facilities.”
Mr Garside added: “It is perfectly possible for the Scottish Prison Service, as it is for the service in England and Wales, to establish individual wings or whole institutions specifically for transgender prisoners.”
At present Scottish Prison Service policy states that “A male-to-female person in custody living permanently as a woman without genital surgery should be allocated to a female establishment.”