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High Court Hears Legal Challenge On Trans Prisoners

In a legal challenge being made against the Ministry of Justice, a female prisoner has opened up about her experiences with trans women, which she argues put born-women in danger of assault.

As it stands the current policy by the Ministry of Justice is to give preference to how an individual self-identifies, regardless of any treatment already taken or not taken to change their gender. This means that for men who identify as women, they can be and are being placed in female prisons.

For one female prisoner, this has brought her to the High Court. The prisoner is known as FDJ and she has informed the High Court that the current policy places women in increased danger of sexual assault.

The current system, the Court has heard, discriminates against women who were born with that gender. FDJ further argues that allowing trans prisoners to be placed amongst born-female prisoners subjects them to a risk of assault, which would not exist if the preference system was not in place.

In backing her case, FDJ has given testimony of her own experiences, in which she claims to have been sexually assaulted in prison in 2017 by a trans woman. The trans woman had a gender recognition certificate, which is not admitted by the MoJ.

Further evidence has been brought forward, stating that while 1% of the female prisoner population is trans, it makes up 6% of the sexual assaults in women’s prisons. The lawyers for FDJ have further asserted that, in 2017, 45% of trans women in female prisons had convictions for sexual offences, with a significant proportion of these involving rape. In the same year, only 4% of the born-female prison population had been convicted of sexual offences.

FDJ’s lawyers have also submitted claims that trans prisoners are five times more likely to carry out sexual attacks in women’s prisons. FDJ’s legal team cited responses to parliamentary questions heard in 2019. However, an expert has been allowed to intervene in the case. As such, Dr Sarah Lamble has made statements that further investigation is needed into these statistics, due to the short period in which they were collected.

Dr Lamble also stated, in a response to a parliamentary question in 2020, that there had been no cases of sexual assault carried out by trans individuals in women’s prisons in 2020. Instead, she said, trans individuals were themselves more likely to be victims of sexual assault.

The hearing continues and judges will be giving their rulings at a later date.