A transgendered person with a male passport and genitalia, but “identifying” as a woman, has lost an appeal to be housed in a female prison. As expected, the ruling revealed he had a long, violent criminal history, which could make him a threat to biologically female inmates.
Unemployed make-up artist Tara Hudson, 26, has lived as a woman for most of his adult life, putting himself through six years of reconstructive surgery and hormone treatment. He was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison after admitting to attacking someone in a bar on Boxing Day, 2014.
After his mother made a public appeal, a social media storm ensued and a Conservative MP Ben Howlett promoted a petition, which was signed by over 140,000 people, calling for him to be moved. A demonstration in favour of the move was also held outside the Ministry of Justice today.
— Rupert Evelyn (@rupertevelyn) October 30, 2015
Mr. Howlett raised he case with the government’s new Women’s and Equalities committee, which resulted in the Ministry of Justice promising to review their guidelines.
However, today, the Recorder of Bristol, Llewelyn Sellick, said that Hudson had a “worrying criminal record” which contained “numerous offences”.
“It is for the prison service and not the court to establish where a sentence should be served,” he added.
Current Ministry of Justice guidelines, from 2011, state “it may be appropriate to place them in the estate of their acquired gender, even if the law does not yet recognise they are of their acquired gender.” But, factors to be considered include “where the prisoner would feel most comfortably housed” and “the risks both to the individual and to other prisoners.”
Therefore, according to current guidelines, it is likely the Recorder deemed Hudson enough of a “risk” to biological women to discount where she felt “comfortable”.
However, it remains to be seen if the new guidelines, expected in the coming months, will maintain the same level of concern for the wellbeing of biological women. Two days ago, Conservative Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan stated that she is “open” to the idea of allowing people to self-declare their gender.
This could mean the UK follows Ireland in allowing people to be legally recognised as female merely by saying they are, without living or appearing as women. Once legally recognised as a woman, they can be housed in a female prison.
Currently in the UK, the transgendered are require to undergo surgery and sterilisation, or be diagnosed with a mental disorder and get divorced if they are married, in order to have their chosen gender legally recognised.