Tory Govt Placing Trans Women in Female Only Prisons Is Lawful, UK High Court Rules

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Transgender women who were born as men can legally be placed in female-only prisons in England and Wales, the High Court has ruled.

A lawsuit put forward by a female inmate, referred to as FDJ, argued that Britain’s policy of allowing trans inmates to be housed in women’s prisons — regardless of whether they have been legally recognised as women or have had any gender reassignment surgery — exposes female inmates to a higher risk of being sexually assaulted while in prison.

The female inmate alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a transgender prisoner who had previously been convicted of sexual assault and therefore argued that the Ministry of Justice’s trans-prison policy was endangering biological women, the BBC reported.

The MoJ said that the intention of the policy is to facilitate “the rights of transgender people to live in and as their acquired gender (and) protecting transgender people’s mental and physical health.”

While Lord Justice Holroyd accepted that which showed that statistically, the likelihood of trans prisoners being convicted of sexual offences was “substantially higher” than natural-born female or male prisoners, he argued that it was a “misuse of the statistics, which… are so low in number, and so lacking in detail, that they are an unsafe basis for general conclusions.”

Justice Holroyd said that while he “fully understood” the concerns of the claimant and of other female prisoners if they are imprisoned alongside inmates with male sexual organs, the rights of trans inmates should also be considered.

“The unconditional introduction of a transgender woman into the general population of a women’s prison carries a statistically greater risk of sexual assault upon non-transgender prisoners than would be the case if a non-transgender woman were introduced,” the judge admitted.

“However, the policies require a careful, case by case assessment of the risks and of the ways in which the risks should be managed,” he added.

“Properly applied, that assessment has the result that non-transgender prisoners only have contact with transgender prisoners when it is safe for them to do so.”

The ruling also revealed that between 2016 and 2019, there were 97 sexual assaults recorded in female prisons. Of those assaults, seven were committed by trans inmates who were not granted a gender recognition certificate. It was not revealed if any of the assaults were committed by trans inmates who legally changed their gender.

While the United Kingdom opened its first transgender prisoner wing in a women’s prison in Downview in 2019, there are still trans inmates being placed among biologically female prison populations.

In 2015, the then-President of the British Association of Gender Identity Specialists, Dr James Barrett, warned the British Parliament that there is a “plethora of prison intelligence suggesting” that the “driving force” behind male sexual offenders identifying as female was in order to “make subsequent sexual offending very much easier”.

In a notable case of transgender sexual violence in female prisons, convicted rapist Karen White, born Stephen Wood, was convicted of sexually assaulting several female inmates after being transferred to a women’s prison on claiming to be transgender.

In another example, a double rapist, Martin Ponting, later identified as Jessica Winfield, was forced into isolation after reportedly sexually harassing female inmates at the Bronzefield women’s prison.

In response to the High Court ruling this week, 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.”

The female inmate who brought the case forward, FDJ, said that she was disappointed by the ruling, saying: “By bringing this challenge, I did not seek to prevent trans women in prison from living in dignity or to exclude all trans women from women’s prisons. However, I feel that trans women who have a history of violence and sexual offending against women should not be in a situation where they can put our safety at risk.”

Britain’s Secretary of State for Justice is Robert Buckland MP, of Boris Johnson’s notionally conservative Tory party.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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